In today’s Chumash, Bilaam asks Hashem again if he can go to Balak. Hashem tells him he can go — but he will have to do what Hashem wants.
When Bilaam got up in the morning, he told Balak’s messengers that he wouldn’t come, because Hashem won’t let. But he added something not true — he said that Hashem wouldn’t let because the messengers weren’t important enough. He wanted them to think that he is very special to Hashem!
When Balak got the message, he sent more messengers, this time, very important people. He promised to pay Bilaam a lot of money too. Bilaam told the messengers that really Balak should give him ALL his money, because he would have had to use that money to pay his army. By hiring Bilaam he doesn’t have to fight at all so Balak really owes him all that money!
Still, now he had to tell the truth — he couldn’t curse the Yidden unless Hashem let. He told the messengers to stay over, and he would try to ask Hashem again.
Hashem told Bilaam that he could go if he wanted to, but he would have to do whatever Hashem tells him!
Bilaam tries to go curse the Yidden: Bilaam woke up early in the morning. He was so excited to go with the officers from Moav and curse the Yidden! He was also hoping that Hashem would think, “If Bilaam gets up early to do bad things, why don’t the Yidden get up early to do GOOD things?” and then get upset at the Yidden. But this didn’t work, because the Yidden have the zechus of the Avos. Avraham already got up early to do what Hashem wanted, by the Akeida, and that zechus is with the Yidden forever!
Bilaam’s donkey won’t go: Hashem was not happy that Bilaam was going even when he knew that Hashem didn’t want him to. Hashem sent a malach to block the road and try to stop Bilaam. If Bilaam would have stopped trying to go, it would have been good for him too, because then he wouldn’t get punished at the end!
Bilaam wasn’t able to see the malach, but his donkey was! She moved off the road to get out of the malach’s way. Bilaam hit the donkey to make her go back onto the road.
The malach stood in front of them again a little later, and the donkey squeezed up next to a wall so she wouldn’t bump into the malach, which squashed Bilaam’s foot. Bilaam hit her again to make her move back onto the road.
The next time the malach stood in front of them, there was nowhere to go, and the donkey had to bow down. Bilaam was angry and hit her AGAIN!
Hashem makes Bilaam’s donkey talk: Now Hashem made a big neis, and the donkey started to talk! She said, “Why did you hit me three times?” Bilaam said, “Because you embarrassed me!”
The officers from Moav were watching Bilaam argue with the donkey. They asked Bilaam why he didn’t take his horse instead of this donkey. Bilaam lied and said that he left his horse to eat in the field. The donkey spoke up, “Isn’t it true that I am your donkey and you don’t have a horse?” Bilaam said yes, but that he usually only uses the donkey for shlepping things. The donkey said, “You always ride on me!” Bilaam said, “Only this time!” The donkey again said, “Am I not the same donkey you ALWAYS ride on?” Now Bilaam didn’t have anything else to say! The donkey asked Bilaam, “Do I usually not listen to you?” Bilaam had to admit that the donkey usually did listen.
Bilaam talks to the malach: Now Hashem let Bilaam see what the donkey saw: A malach standing with a sword, blocking the way. Bilaam bowed down. The malach told Bilaam that the donkey saved his life! If the donkey hadn’t moved, the malach would have killed Bilam.
Bilaam admitted that he had done the wrong thing to hit the donkey, but he still didn’t feel bad about going to curse the Yidden. “Hashem told me I can go if I want to!” he said.
The malach let him go, but warned him again — he can only say what Hashem tells him to say.
Balak asks Bilaam why he didn’t come before: When Bilaam finally came, Balak came out to meet him. He said, “Why didn’t you come the first time I asked you to? Do you think I can’t give you enough kavod?” Balak didn’t realize, but he was actually saying a nevuah of what would happen at the end — he really wouldn’t give Bilaam any kavod! Bilaam would leave embarrassed at the end instead.
Bilaam said, “I am here now — but I can only say what Hashem tells me to.”