There is another story of the desert.
There is more than "leaving" and "journeying to."
There is a story of "on the way."
Today we tell the story of curses turned into blessings.
King Balak sent Balaam, the greatest magician in the world,
to curse the children of Israel so they would die.
Balaam went up to the mountain top.
He made the proper sacrifices
-- seven rams and bullocks on seven altars.
He stood above the Israelites, arms outstretched,
ready to pronounce the curse.
He opened his mouth to say the words of death,
the words of power.
The words hung in mid-air.
The curses tumbled, down, down,
and landed as blessings:
"Mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov, mishk'notecha, Yisrael."
"How good are your tents Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel."
This is our story today.
Today, many stand on mountains.
Many Balaks stand ready to send forth curses.
May the source of blessing again turn curses into blessing.
Here are the places now cursed and in need of blessing . . . [name the places]
Mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov, mishk'notecha, Yisrael.
(based on Numbers 24:5)