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5 Facts About Parshat Balak that You (Maybe) Didn’t Know

Published on Friday August 27th, 2021

Discover and learn every week, "5 Facts" written on the weekly Parshah that you can share at your Shabbos table.

וַתֵּ֨רֶא הָאָת֜וֹן אֶת־מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהוָ֗ה וַתִּלָּחֵץ֙ אֶל־הַקִּ֔יר וַתִּלְחַ֛ץ אֶת־רֶ֥גֶל בִּלְעָ֖ם אֶל־הַקִּ֑יר וַיֹּ֖סֶף לְהַכֹּתָֽהּ׃ (22:25)

The ass, seeing the angel of the LORD, pressed herself against the wall and squeezed Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he beat her again.

1.     What did the donkey accuse Bilaam of?

  • The donkey accused Bilaam of mounting her to satisfy his carnal desires. (Sanhedrin 105b)


וַתֹּ֨אמֶר הָאָת֜וֹן אֶל־בִּלְעָ֗ם הֲלוֹא֩ אָנֹכִ֨י אֲתֹֽנְךָ֜ אֲשֶׁר־רָכַ֣בְתָּ עָלַ֗י מֵעֽוֹדְךָ֙ עַד־הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה הַֽהַסְכֵּ֣ן הִסְכַּ֔נְתִּי לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת לְךָ֖ כֹּ֑ה וַיֹּ֖אמֶר לֹֽא׃ (22:30)

The ass said to Balaam, “Look, I am the ass that you have been riding all along until this day! Have I been in the habit of doing thus to you?” And he answered, “No.”

2.     What happened to Bilaam’s donkey?

  • An angel killed the donkey as soon as it finished speaking so that people wouldn't make it into something to be worshipped. Another reason it was killed was becuase  it had  completed its  purpose for having been created. . (Meam Loez original)


וַיִּקָּ֥ר אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶל־בִּלְעָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֗יו אֶת־שִׁבְעַ֤ת הַֽמִּזְבְּחֹת֙ עָרַ֔כְתִּי וָאַ֛עַל פָּ֥ר וָאַ֖יִל בַּמִּזְבֵּֽחַ׃ (23:4)

God manifested Himself to Balaam, who said to Him, “I have set up the seven altars and offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.”

3.     What did these 7 altars correspond to?

  • Before each of attempt to curse the  Bnei Israel, Bilam built 7 altars and offered 7 sacrifices. This was intended to correspond to Adam, Hevel , Noach, Avraham, Yitzchak, Yakov and Moshe who also built altars. Others say that they symbolized the 7 altars built by the Patriarchs. (Tanchuma, Rashi)


וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהוָ֜ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה קַ֚ח אֶת־כָּל־רָאשֵׁ֣י הָעָ֔ם וְהוֹקַ֥ע אוֹתָ֛ם לַיהוָ֖ה נֶ֣גֶד הַשָּׁ֑מֶשׁ וְיָשֹׁ֛ב חֲר֥וֹן אַף־יְהוָ֖ה מִיִּשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (25:4)

The LORD said to Moses, “Take all the ringleaders and have them publicly impaled before the LORD, so that the LORD’s wrath may turn away from Israel.”

4.     How were the Benot Moav punished?

  • Benot Moav were later punished by miraculous means. In order to expose the sinners, the clouds folded and let the sun rays shine and brighten the sinners faces only. (Rashi, Midrash Tanchuma)


וַ֠יָּבֹא אַחַ֨ר אִֽישׁ־יִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל אֶל־הַקֻּבָּ֗ה וַיִּדְקֹר֙ אֶת־שְׁנֵיהֶ֔ם אֵ֚ת אִ֣ישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאֶת־הָאִשָּׁ֖ה אֶל־קֳבָתָ֑הּ וַתֵּֽעָצַר֙ הַמַּגֵּפָ֔ה מֵעַ֖ל בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ (25:8)

He followed the Israelite into the chamber and stabbed both of them, the Israelite and the woman, through the belly. Then the plague against the Israelites was checked.

5.     What are the 12 miracles that happened to Pinchas?

  1. He would have parted them but could not.
  2. Their mouth was closed so that they could not cry out; for had they cried out, they would have been rescued.
  3. He drove the lance through both of them.
  4. The lance remained fixed in the wound.
  5. When he bare them aloft, the lintel was uplifted for him until he had gone forth.
  6. He carried them through the whole camp, six miles, without fatigue.
  7. He held them up by his right arm, in sight of their kindred, who had no power to hurt him.
  8. The lance was made strong so as not to be broken with the load.
  9. The iron transpierced them, but was not withdrawn.
  10. An angel came and made bare their corpses in sight of the people.
  11. They lingered alive till they had been carried through the entire camp, lest the priest in the tabernacle should be defiled by the dead.
  12. Their blood thickened so as not to flow upon him; but when he had borne them through the camp, it broke forth, and they died. Answering, he said before Hashem, Can it be that, on account of these, twenty and four thousands of Israel shall die? Immediately the compassions of Hashem was moved, and the plague was stopped. (Targum Yonathan)
Eytan Yéhouda DZIKOWSKI - © Torah-Box Account

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