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Perashat Beha'alotekha 5779

Home > Rabbi's Weekly Message > Perashat Beha'alotekha 5779

Perashat Beha'alotekha 5779

Friday, June 21, 2019 Author: Rabbi Shlomo Farhi

There's one in every family. If you can't find the one in your family, it might just be you!

וַיְהִ֤י הָעָם֙ כְּמִתְאֹ֣נְנִ֔ים רַ֖ע בְּאָזְנֵ֣י ה וַיִּשְׁמַ֤ע ה וַיִּ֣חַר אַפּ֔וֹ
And the people were like complainers, speaking evil in the ears of Hashem. And Hashem heard and was angered.
The commentators point out that of the many times the Jews complained in the desert this verse is unique. It doesn't tell us what they were actually complaining about, just that they were "like complainers".

Also, what does that even mean? If they were complaining then they were complainers, not "like" them!

Lastly, the irony cannot be lost on us. "And Hashem heard and was angered. "Heard what? When we look, there isn't anything that they are recorded as saying!
The Torah is teaching us a profound lesson in the nature of some of the negative nellies that we encounter. 
Rashi says that the Jews had decided that they wanted to be free of God's commandments; they were simply seeking an excuse. In trying to understand some of the cynical people in our lives, we think they just see the negative side of situations, but the negativity isn't in what they are witnessing. It's in themselves. They make a choice as to how they want to behave, and then everything just becomes fuel for their chosen agenda. 
They aren't negative because of the bad experiences they've had. They have bad experiences because they are negative!
What angered Hashem here was that He listened, and heard NOTHING. They didn't actually have anything to say. They were just griping, moaning and whining, "like complainers" who decide to complain first and then look for what to complain about. 
Sometimes people actually have a point. Great. Criticism properly taken is growth. But as I saw on a napkin in a restaurant, "If you hated your meal please tell us. If you loved it, please tell everyone else!" Somehow many of us have this in the reverse. We complain about people to others, and we compliment them to themselves, when really, the helpful thing would be the reverse. 
Often, we can lift people out of that state by challenging the view gently and showing that their perspective is a bit skewed! How lucky are we??  The people in the desert even complained about bread that was falling for them from heaven! May God bless us with an eye to see our many Blessings!

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Shlomo Farhi

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