These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

That’s my favorite flavor of Manna!

Posted on May 26, 2013 by Hannah Perlis

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My dvar Torah from the Galil Shabbaton:
sImagine hypothetically waking up late because you snoozed your alarm too much. Then, you go to put your ethnically thick, but luscious, hair into a ponytail and you snap yet another hair tie. Then, you slip on your size 6 pink flip flops to run to school and you realize you have gum on the bottom of them…this is all hypothetical of course…
You think to yourself “Could anything get worse?”
YES, the answer is yes, that things could always be worse.
hpI’m going to talk about the parsha this week, Behaalotcha. It seemed to me that Bnei Yisrael had short term memory loss in this week’s Parsha. I’m pretty sure they were enslaved in Egypt and were crying out to be freed. Then, they were actually freed. Now, they are complaining about the food to Moshe. They are not happy with the food they received because they desire meat, not Manna.

In פרק יא, פסוק יד, Moshe says to God:
יד לֹא-אוּכַל אָנֹכִי לְבַדִּי, לָשֵׂאת אֶת-כָּל-הָעָם הַזֶּה: כִּי כָבֵד, מִמֶּנִּי.
14 I am not able to bear all this people myself alone, because it is too heavy for me.
From this Pasuk, we learn there must have been a lot of complaining going on and, also that Moshe is very brave. I think it must have taken a lot of courage for Moshe to go to his boss, G-d, and tell him that he needed help. Asking for help can be seen as a sign of weakness. It takes a true leader to care more about the happiness of the people than his own pride. Now, I want to take a closer look at this kvetching heard ‘round the world. It is as if Bnei Yisrael had not just been slaves and witnessed a poor quality of life. Rather than focusing on the positive aspect of their lives, their freedom, Bnei Yisrael picked out the things that could have made their lives perfect.
In פרק יא פסוק כב Moshe states,
כב הֲצֹאן וּבָקָר יִשָּׁחֵט לָהֶם, וּמָצָא לָהֶם; אִם אֶת-כָּל-דְּגֵי הַיָּם יֵאָסֵף לָהֶם, וּמָצָא לָהֶם. {פ}
22 If flocks and herds be slain for them, will they suffice them? Or if all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, will they suffice them?’
Had Bnei Yisrael received meat from the beginning, then surely they would have had something else to complain about. Rather than celebrating their leader’s guidance, they complain about the food. When we get into a mind frame where we are constantly striving for a better situation, then we lose sight of a fortunate one that might already exist.
In פרק ד משנה א Pirkei Avot states,
איזהו עשיר? השמח בחלקו.
“Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot.”
Sometimes if I have a bad day, I think that things could not be worse! Instead of being so sad that I only have a month left here in Israel, I will be happy that I have a month left here in Israel! It is important to put things into perspective and look at possible hardships with a positive light. After being slaves in Egypt, Bnei Yisrael then receive free food from heaven that can taste like anything they wanted except for a few foods….So the people focused on the negative and complain about the few foods that the food COULDN’T taste like. So, my blessing for us is to not focus on the negative, but rather rejoice the positive aspects of our life! There will be many hurdles in life that might have us craving “meat/ tofurkey. Let us not focus on what food we lack in our mouths, but rather what rewards we already hold in our hearts.
Shabbat Shalom!