The following is a brief summary of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.
In Bamidbar 22:29, Bilaam says to the donkey - you are making fun of me? If I had a sword, I would kill you.
Rashi comments that this conversation was an embarrassment for Bilaam. Bilaam was coming to curse the Jews, why did he need a sword to kill the donkey? Rabbi Frand followed with a colloquialism - couldn't he just tell the donkey to drop dead? He was coming to curse the Jews, why not curse the donkey?
Before answering the question, R' Frand gave a long introduction which began with a citation to a second pasuk in the parsha. Bilaam's first beracha to the Jews includes the pasuk in Bamidbar 23:9 - Ki Meirosh Tsurim Erenu U'migvaos Ashurenu. Literally, the pasuk is translated as "from its origins I see it rock like and from hills, I do see it." However, R' Frand offered a deeper explanation from R' Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld, which is derived from a pasuk in the haftorah.
It states in the haftorah (quoted from Micha) - remember what Hashem did for you from Sheetim to Gilgal. We know that Sheetim was where they were in the desert, but Gilgal was in Israel. What is the connection?
R' Frand answered that a person who is effective at cursing causes Shamayim to look at the person closely. What Bilaam was interested in doing was mentioning things which showed that the Jews had failed and that it would evoke close review in the Heavens.
Bilaam realized that the entire time the Jews were in the desert they did not perform bris millah because it was a danger due to the conditions. Bilaam says to Hashem - look 40 years they did not do it. Hashem responds - they could not do it because of danger. But the proof is --what happens when the danger is not there?
The answer is found in the Haftorah for Pesach where it states that as soon as the Jews entered Israel they gave bris millah to all the men. This took place in Gilgal. Because as soon as they entered Israel, Yehoshua told the Jews make swords to do bris millah and there were mountains of orlahs.
This was Bilaam's observation - I can't the curse the Jews over this because they went from Sheetim to Gilgal and immediately used their Tsurim - swords, to create Givaos - mountains of orlahs. So I must leave them alone.
This was also the reason that Bilaam was unable to curse the donkey. A donkey is a dumb animal which is not responsible for its own acts. There was no examination of the donkey that Bilaam could cause in Shamayim. Thus, he needed a sword to hurt the donkey.
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