This week’s parasha contains a story about a king, a prophet, and a talking donkey. The King of Moab, Balak, implores a renowned foreign prophet, Bil’am, to go and curse the Israelite people, offering a handsome reward. Echoes of Egypt’s Pharaoh abound, in Balak’s paranoid view of the Israelites: “…they are too numerous for me; perhaps I can defeat them and drive them out of the land.” (Num. 22:6) Bila’am sets out to do the king’s bidding, but fails repeatedly as God intervenes, even speaking through the prophet’s donkey. One commentator asks why Balak did not ask the prophet to bless his own people, instead of cursing another. Beit Ramah concludes: “He was so consumed by hatred that he forgot about his people’s needs and could think only about hurting his enemy. “ (Etz Hayim commentary, p. 895.) We will take up this story at our Parashat Hashvuah (Weekly Torah Portion)study this Shabbat on Saturday at 9:30am. (Under the umbrellas in the BHT backyard. Inside, if rainy or too hot.) Join us!