We read in Balak that the ass 'spoke' to Bilaam. This was a special miracle that an ass could speak, made during the six days of creation.

Hashem doesn't make miracles for nothing. What is the great lesson we can draw from this that made it so necessary?

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    groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/talmud3/n0M7MQJFA5A for many similar types of questions
    – cham1
    Jul 1, 2015 at 5:03
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    You question would be much improved if you would edit into it support for your claims (1) that an ass spoke to Bil'am, (2) that the miracle was created during the sheshes y'me v'reshis, and (3) that Hashem doesn't make miracles for nothing.
    – msh210
    Jul 1, 2015 at 5:28
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    What is the great lesson seems either too broad or primarily opinion based. I think that a simple "Why" would be a much better question Jul 1, 2015 at 6:10
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    Different approaches to this can be taken. Some useful source material includes Zohar (Balak 201b, for a kabbalistic approach), P'siktasa Zutrasa (Balak), Rabbeinu Bechaye (Bamidbar 22:28), P'ri Tzadik (ibid.), S'fas Emes (ibid.), Alshich (Sh'mos 34:1-3), and Meiri on Avos (ch. 5). (Actually, a number of these sources complement each other).
    – Fred
    Jul 1, 2015 at 6:52
  • Most questions have more than one answer. The torah is made up of 'pardes'. Your answer seems to include them all. Not everyone is capable of looking all this up. Perhaps you can give us some idea of what the answers are @fred
    – cham1
    Jul 1, 2015 at 8:18

2 Answers 2


Rabbeinu Bechayei on Pirkei Avot 5:8 expands on the Mishnah citation that among the 10 things created during twilight prior to the start of Shabbat, is the mouth of the donkey that spoke to Bil'am.

He states that all 10 things in the list were created for the honor of Israel. The main idea to be learned is that the donkey doesn't speak on its own, but rather, that it is G-d who gives the donkey the power to speak. I.e., rather than viewing this as an unusual "miracle" and be surprised or "shocked" by it, Jews would understand that there is nothing too unusual or powerful for G-d to create, and a talking donkey is not unusual.

Take a close look at the wording of the Mishnah itself. It says ten things were created, not "ten miracles", as you have written in your question. Yes, we (not just you and I, but many of us) think of these ten items as "miracles" because we are not used to talking animals (i.e. - besides parrots & maccaws, etc. that, to some degree, can speak in "human" language). But, in fact, the Mishnah teaches us that these were part of creation, so at the point that it occurs, and when we read about them, we are not viewing them as unusual miracles, but part of G-d's plan.

Also, note, that this may explain why Bil'am doesn't seem surprised about his talking donkey. Perhaps he watched Shrek the movie, first ;-) Seriously, Rash"i, among others, explain that Bil'am was a prophet almost equivalent to Moses. So, granted, that this Mishnah was not written (though, it may have been orally transmitted by Moses, already), but, at the least, having a high, prophetic intelligence, Bil'am may have understood that a talking donkey was part of G-d's powers.

See this M.Y. question / answer explaining the significance of why these 10 items were specifically created before Shabbat.

  • Thanks, If you look at your link you will also find an answer to my question which is the standard answer. It would also explain the talking fish. But that is not my understanding of Rabainu Bchayai that every animal has the power of speech. My own answer (in my style) is entirely different especially why Balaam wasnt 'fazed' by it speaking.
    – cham1
    Jul 1, 2015 at 18:04

The Avarbanel here explains that god did that to warn bilam and make him understand that just as he can put whatever he wants in the ass's mouth , so he will do with bilam's mouth

  • Rabainu Bchayai quoted earlier says something similar.
    – cham1
    Jul 2, 2015 at 5:05

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