Commit: Came to Curse — Come to Bless

O holy Shabbes Inspiration Balak
in which Balak King of Moab brings the prophet Bilaam
from the north to curse and he blesses

I think he was a real prophet [Sifre on Deut. 357]
though I don’t think he spoke God
that is — he didn’t bless
he didn’t curse
he didn’t have the power of either [Meam Loez]
words do not curse
there is no such power
we will defeat ourselves
if left alone

Nor did he have the power to bless
because we were already blessed [Meam Loez]

Something missing in his vision don’t you know
he was blind in one eye [Numbers 24:3 and Sanh. 15a]
he was missing the eye that sees his own smallness
with his good eye he saw the greatness of God
he was that kind of prophet [Hacohen al HaTorah, v.4, p.115]

The text doesn’t say outright
that the donkey made human sounds
surely the presence of God communicated to Bilaam
through the donkey
as if the animal had spoken
or maybe it was all a vision [Guide II:42]

The mouth on that donkey
another of the ten miracles
created in the in-between time [Avot 5:9]
not the six days not the Sabbath either
between the suns the between-time
part day knowledge part night knowledge
built into Creation at the mystery time
miracles to appear when necessary
like stem cells
like transplants
like the cures we are waiting for
like the peace we are praying for
when we howl WHEN
we want a hurry-up
something wonderful we are waiting for
created but not-present
like the mouth of Bilaam’s donkey speaking
when it came time for the animal to speak
it spoke

I don’t think he was a magician or a sorceror either
though Joshua did [Joshua 13:22]
not magic we are yearning for
we are waiting for science
we are yearning for discovery
my daughter told this to the guys in the legislature
but they do not think that far
they do not see the future
and they have false certainty about the past
when it’s time when it’s time
they will never get that
it’s always God’s time don’t they know
aha – God says – here it comes
we built it in at the beginning
it was created so to speak to appear in its time
and you will not interfere with that
I have made miracles already

Bilaam was like Job
a prophet among the nations [Tanna debei Eliahu 28]
the world can never accuse us
of monopolizing prophecy
would that they were all prophets
there are so few of them nowadays
within and without the camp

In the hospital the old rebbe said
is that we are doing?
just giving language to what we know?
take the just out of that sentence, I said.
we are giving language
to what we know
a vocabulary

I really loved the tents of those people
said Bilaam in his most famous passage
we quote him first thing in the prayers
you know how the tents were [Baba Batra 87a]
not one tent opening looking into any other tent opening
community and individuality
we worked it out as a people

As a person —
ma tovu oholekha Yaakov
how good are your tents O Jacob
the singular
respect the individual
mishkenotekha the places where you dwell O Israel
— the peoplehood the community
we worked out the confluence of the two

That’s what Bilaam saw and that’s what he blessed
here is your blessing, Bilaam said
now you have words for it
first, you are already blessed

Secondly, you are bound to each other
none of your tents open onto one another
you are never alone when you are alone

I can’t see into your tent
but I know you’re there