Shabbat Parashat B’ha’alotecha Complaints: Then and Now

Dear Friends,

The wonderful thing about being Jewish is that it is okay to complain. It is okay to speak one’s mind. It is even okay to complain to God and about God. It’s okay to complain.

Having said that….our Parsha teaches us that when complaining becomes a way of life and the focus of all that we do, that’s when complaining becomes a problem. That’s when God loses patience with us.

When our people wandered through the desert, they complained when there was no water. God understood, and provided water. They complained that there was no meat. God understood and provided lots of meat. But, in our parsha, the Torah tells us that the people simply complained and complained for no good reason at all. That’s when God lost patience with us.

In Numbers 11:1 we read that the people were steeped in a culture of complaining. As our Sages understood it, our people spent their free time with family and with friends complaining! They became completely focused on what was missing in life, rather than on what good could be found in life. This time, when Moses expressed exasperation with our people, God understood Moses!

As Jewish people, we are allowed to complain. Thank goodness for that. But, we are not allowed to turn our whole lives into non-stop complaining. Instead, let’s save our complaints for real issues that can be addressed. And, let us turn our attention, every day, to the things that give meaning to our lives and hope to our souls. Let us do what we can to make the world around us a better place, and let’s make room in our lives for the blessings of gratitude and of life.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Gilah Dror