Vayechi: Is Being Called “Donkey” a Compliment?



Even without being compared to politicians, donkeys get a bum rap. People make fun of their stubbornness, which is sometimes equated with stupidity.

Yet, that’s being very unfair to a wondrous animal that can teach us much about our service to our Creator.

Indeed, in this week’s Torah reading, we read about how, and why, the donkey exemplifies Issachar, the tribe of Torah scholars.

Two donkey stories round out this sermon: the first related by Rabbi Yonasan Eibushutz, about putting a particular anti-Semite, Graf Gumprecht von Hartzlossergezelschaft, in his rightful place; the second by the Chatam Sofer, in which he explains to a certain Jew that he is making a donkey of himself by comparing the saintly Torah scholarship of the sages to mere “human” wisdom.


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