In this week’s parsha, the son of the Moabite king, Balak, wants to send a prophet named Bilam to curse Bnei Yisrael because of their strength. There are several delegations sent to convince Bilam, each promising more rewards, but because Hashem had said no, Bilam did not go. Then, Hashem said to go, and Bilam eagerly packs up and sets off – a little too eagerly. On the path, the donkey Bilam is riding sees an angel waiting, and three times swerves and is beaten. We see the second and final talking animal in the Torah, as Hashem allows her to tell Bilam why she swerved – and that she had saved his life. He goes on, but only to say what Hashem tells him.
When Bilam gets to Balak, Balak complains a little about the amount of effort he had to put forth to get him there, and then makes sacrifices and tells Bilam to curse the Israelites. But instead, he gives them a blessing. This happens a total of three times, and then Bilam goes home. The prayer “Ma tovu…” comes from this section.
Last, we hear about the Israelites who got too friendly with Mideonite women and started worshiping baal-peor. They were executed and a plague struck the people, killing 24,000. It was stopped when Pinchas, son of Elazar (current Cohen Gadol) took a spear and killed a man and the Moabite woman as they went into a tent.
Here’s a printable Balak – Bilam book.
Make a donkey puppet like this (or maybe play pin the tail on the donkey)
Here’s a really cool parsha cake for Balak
Learn/review Ma Tovu
Talk about being dans l’kaf zehut – judging others favorably. In this case the donkey!
Here‘s a book on our list for this year that is a great way to bring this in.
What are you doing this week?