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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Beha'alotcha

Seeing is believing

The solution for complaining is to re-order our eyes. To direct our focus on the cup half-full which Hashem pours for us each morning.
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If only there was an Olympic competition in complaining, we might finally get those gold medals we so crave! Our Sedra, sometimes called parshat Ha’mitlon’nim, the saga
of the complainers, has Bnei Yisrael grousing at every turn. We complain about the hurried journey through the harsh desert; the lack of meat, the absence of all the delicacies we had in Egypt (cucumbers are a delicacy?!).

Even Miriam & Aharon get in the act, when they complain that Moshe is neglecting his poor wife, Tzipora.

But perhaps the most perplexing protest is that about the Mahn. "Nafshenu y’vaysha; ayn kol – bilti el ha-mahn aynenu – Our souls are parched, we have nothing, only
this Mahn to look at!" they moan & groan.

But what are they saying? If their throats were parched, from lack of water, I could understand that. But their very souls being parched?! What is THAT all about? And why this focus on what the Mahn looked like; the main thing is that it miraculously TASTED like anything they had a craving for!

I suggest that the key to unlocking their skewed psyche is the little two-word phrase, "Ayn kol." This could mean, "we have nothing;" or it could be translated, "we don’t have everything. In other words, the people were saying that while it is true that they had lots of perks & privileges in the desert – they were guarded by fire & cloud, they were taught by Moshe, their every need was provided for them without having to work for it – they still felt they did not have everything. "Where’s my steak, smothered in garlic & onions, with watermelon for dessert?!

Extreme entitlement is a potent emotional disease; it makes us desire that which we do not have, while denigrating & denying all the amazing gifts which G-d does
shower upon us. When we focus on what’s missing from our lives, rather than appreciating what we DO have, our souls become dry & parched, leaving a taste in our
mouths & souls as empty as the vast, barren desert.

The solution, as the pasuk itself hints at, is to re-order "ayneynu," our eyes. To direct our focus on the cup half-full which Hashem pours for us each morning, to dwell on the beautiful world in which we live, on the spectacular Israel we now control, on the good fortune we have to be living in such dynamic, exciting, historic times.

Each morning, as we start our prayers, we first thank & acknowledge G-d for giving us clothes, freedom, health, strength & life. And, perhaps most importantly, pokeyach ivrim; the ability to see it.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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