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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

Beha'aloscha: Misplaced Complaint

ועתה נפשנו יבשה אין כל, בלתי אל המן עינינו; והמן כזרע גד הוא 
“But now, are lives are dry, without anything, we have nothing to look forward to other than the Manna; and the Manna was like coriander seed, with the appearance of crystal”

At first glance, the verses seem contradictory; we report the complaining of the people over their dissatisfaction with the Manna, and then laud the Manna as being as beautiful as crystal! Rashi, citing the Sifri explains, that the first half of the statement was indeed made by the complaining people. But the second half of the verse is a response- look what the people are whining about! About My beautiful Manna! In essence then, this verse is written as a criticism that the people were really complaining over nothing.

Rav Elya Lapion z”l asks an insightful question:  Later on, in Parshas Eikev, the Torah itself states that the Manna experience was difficult! "ויאכילך את המן אשר לא ידעת ולא ידעון אבותיך  ויענך וירעיבך". He afflicted and starved us by feeding us the Manna! So why is it so surprising that we are complaining now? 

Explains Rav Elya, we often feel that if we had affluence and plenty, with all of our needs and wants fulfilled, we would be in the perfect frame of mind to learn, and serve Hashem. In truth, the opposite is true- the more we have, the more we need; and the more dependent we are on external things, the less internal peace of mind we have. If we become accustomed to having our ‘steak’ every day, it no longer is a luxury, and instead becomes a necessity. The same is true with most indulgences and pleasures. 

Hashem tested and ‘starved’ us with the Manna, to wean us off the needs of this world, and to accustom us to looking towards Him. On the contrary, the Manna had the potential to completely satisfy us in the most wholesome and delicious way, without the fear of ‘addiction’ and enslavement to the world around us. Had we followed along and allowed the lesson to sink in, we would have seen the beauty and the crystal inherent in the Manna. 

This is really a recurring theme in our service of Hashem; any hardship or difficulty that we encounter is really meant to help us grow; and, easier said than done, every pain is gain towards are ultimate goal of becoming better servants of Hashem!

Have a wonderful Shabbos. 

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