The medrash Tanchuma on parshas Balak #9 says ויאמר בלעם לאתון כי התעללת בי(בלק כ׳ב כ׳ט). אף על פי שמדבר בלשון הקדש גוי לשונו סרוח. The Etz Yosef explains that התעללת is an impure expression as we find it used ויתעללו בה כל הלילה.

The question is we find Hashem saying the same expression in parshas Bo 1:2. ולמען תספר באזני בנך ובן בנך את אשר התעללתי במצרים.

How can we hold this terminology against Bilaam if Hashem said it too?


I think that the issue here is less to do with the word itself, which is used some eight times altogether in Tanakh, than it is with the fact that it denotes an action being done to Bilaam. God is mit'alel the Egyptians, the men of Gibeah are mit'alel the concubine, Saul is concerned lest the Philistines might mit'alel him (1 Chr 10:4), but Bilaam declares that his donkey has already done so!

In other words, if it denotes something disgusting, being the agent is less demeaning than being the patient. The former might denote an act of aggression or of torture (in the case of God, of retributive violence), but the latter implies degradation. God's doing this to the Egyptians says something disgusting about the Egyptians; Bilaam's having it done to him by his donkey says something disgusting about himself.


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