There is something magical about an outdoor theatre. Nearly four decades on, I can remember my first experience of Midsummer Night’s Dream in Regents Park. The rustling leaves, the cooling air, and the sweep of night only added to the beauty and the mystery of the experience. I was completely immersed in the story, and utterly absorbed by the fairytale with all its silliness; not least a talking donkey. And yet, though clearly fiction, there was a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from that parody, especially from the silliest of characters - Bottom the donkey. 


It is nothing new, that in the realm of theatre -

as it can be in real life - some of the most challenging and profound things come out of the mouths of those who play the fool. Even older than these ‘wise’ fools are the tales of animals who speak up, and, in so doing, open the eyes of the supposedly intelligent humans who, until hearing their words, have missed the entire point. Certainly, that is what we encounter in this week’s Torah portion, when a talking donkey changes the approach by Balaam - a wizard who is so dazzled by his own brilliance that he has failed to see what is obvious even to a simple donkey. 


Such is the magic of theatre, that we, the audience, watching from the other side of the fourth wall, get to see so much more than the characters in the scene. The same can be said for our day-to-day encounters. Sometimes, we need to step back, or become playful, before the truth we’ve been searching for can be revealed. More often than not, it’s out there, ready to be heard, it just might take the odd talking donkey to make us listen.

Shabbat Shalom