This text is from next week's Torah portion. Balak, king of the Moabites, has asked Balaam to curse the Israelite people, who have stopped in his land on their wandering in the desert. God tells Balaam that he can only say what God allows. This text picks up as Balaam prepares to go towards the Israelite camp.
(21) When he arose in the morning, Balaam saddled his donkey and departed with the Moabite dignitaries. (22) But God was incensed at his going; so an angel of the LORD placed himself in his way as an adversary. He was riding on his donkey, with his two servants alongside, (23) when the donkey caught sight of the angel of the LORD standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. The donkey swerved from the road and went into the fields; and Balaam beat the donkey to turn her back onto the road. (24) The angel of the LORD then stationed himself in a lane between the vineyards, with a fence on either side. (25) The donkey, seeing the angel of the LORD, pressed herself against the wall and squeezed Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he beat her again. (26) Once more the angel of the LORD moved forward and stationed himself on a spot so narrow that there was no room to swerve right or left. (27) When the donkey now saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam; and Balaam was furious and beat the donkey with his stick. (28) Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?” (29) Balaam said to the donkey, “You have made a mockery of me! If I had a sword with me, I’d kill you.” (30) The donkey said to Balaam, “Look, I am the donkey that you have been riding all along until this day! Have I been in the habit of doing thus to you?” And he answered, “No.” (31) Then the LORD uncovered Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, his drawn sword in his hand; thereupon he bowed right down to the ground.
This is a text about the origins of Rabbi Akiva, one of the greatest rabbis in our tradition. He appears in the Talmud.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
What we need more than anything else is not textbooks but textpeople. It is the personality of the teacher which is the text that the pupils read; the text that they will never forget. The modern teacher, while not wearing a snowy beard, is a link in the chain of a tradition. He is the intermediary between the past and the present as well. Yet he is also the creator of the future of our people. He must teach the pupils to evaluate the past in order to clarify their future.