Balak: Our Donkeys, Ourselves

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Balak: Our Donkeys, Ourselves

Welcome to Shabbat Moment, a text study series with Yael Shy, from our friends at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Every week we share Yael’s Torah text study, mindfulness practice tips, and discussion questions for you to reflect + share with others at your Shabbat table. Subscribe here to get the Shabbat Moment delivered straight to your inbox!

This week’s Torah portion is Balak: Our Donkeys, Ourselves.

How do you talk to your body? What would if be like if your body could talk back?

This week’s Torah portion offers a powerful parallel lesson on our relationship to ourselves. Balak, a Moabite king, is frightened by the military prowess of the Israelites as they advance closer to his land. He asks Balaam, a pagan prophet, to ride out to the mountaintop overlooking the Israelites and to curse them. Balaam saddles up his female donkey and begins the journey.

God, angry at Balaam, puts an angel of death in front of Balaam’s donkey that only the donkey can see. At each point that the donkey turns away from the angel of death, Balak beats her. Finally, the donkey begins to speak.

The donkey sounds so much like what our bodies and our inner selves might sound like if God “opened their mouths.” Why are you abusing me? Why don’t you trust me? What have I ever done to you? Why can’t you believe I have wisdom that your thinking mind cannot comprehend?

About the Author

Yael ShySpecial thanks to Yael Shy and our friends at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality for joining us in creating weekly Shabbat moments for your Friday nights.

Yael Shy is the CEO of Mindfulness Consulting, LLC, where she teaches and consults on mindfulness for universities, corporations, and private clients around the world. She is the author of the award-winning book, What Now? Meditation for Your Twenties and Beyond (Parallax, 2017), and the founder of Mindful NYU, the largest campus-based mindfulness initiative in the US. Yael is a graduate of the IJS Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Training Certification.

OneTable empowers people who don’t yet have a consistent Shabbat dinner practice to build one that feels authentic, sustainable, and valuable. The OneTable community is funded to support people (21-39ish), not in undergraduate studies, and without an existing weekly Shabbat practice, looking to find and share this powerful experience.

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