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All You Can Eat ...

06/08/12 11:35:57


R Pesach Siegel

Parshas BeHa'aloscha 5772

The converts among the Bnei Yisroel were filled with a ta’avah, a passion. They wanted meat. “Who will give us meat?”

They longed for the fish that they ate freely in Egypt. They sought the produce of the land of Egypt; the gourds, melons, leeks, the onions and the garlic. They cried and they caused the Jews to cry along with them.

They had no patience for the heavenly manna, which descended from the heavens. Its natural flavor was paradise and it took on the flavor of whatever one imagined.


They had meat in the form of the animals that they brought out with them from Egypt.

Hashem granted their request. He sent them fowl. What of their other requests, e.g. the gourds and melons?

If they wished for these items, all they had to do was imagine their taste while eating the manna.

The manna was their only source of sustenance at the time. They are in a desert. They are totally dependent on Hashem’s miracles. If they complain about the manna, what remains for them to eat? How do they justify such a complaint?

Moshe cries out to Hashem, “They are asking for the impossible.” Is anything impossible for Hashem?

Background/Deeper Understanding

The manna had miraculous qualities. It reflected the level of its consumer. The higher level one was on the less preparation one required. For the tzadik, it was able to be eaten as is, for someone on a lower level it had to be ground and prepared.

For those deemed worthy, it landed right outside their doorstep. Others had to travel to retrieve their daily measure.

There were no waste products excreted from the body.

It was truly lechem abirim, the bread of angels. It did not conform to the nature of this world, where the internalism of G-d’s creation is hidden.


My rebbe, Rav Aizik Ausband, z”l, would explain, “Could you imagine a tzadik, each and every day, his manna falls right outside his doorstep. One day, he falls in his avodas Hashem. Nobody knows, but G-d always knows. The next morning, he has to walk a mile for his manna. His shortcomings are exposed for all to see. It is very difficult to lives one’s life under such scrutiny.

Klal Yisroel, in the desert, were on the level of angels, but there is a “price to pay” for this privilege.  An angel is close to perfection, and Klal Yisroel were expected to live up to the standard of the angels.

Those that complained about the manna claimed that they were not seeking to end their relationship with Hashem, they sought to readjust the relationship. They wanted to relate to Him as human beings. Their primary taavah was to eat freely, as they did in Egypt. They expressed this desire in the form of a desire for meat. Meat was forbidden to the first man, Adam. His nature was so lofty that the meat of an animal would have an effect on him, causing him to be more animalistic. The Bnei Yisroel WANTED to become more animalistic. They wanted to serve Hashem from the aretz and not from the shamayim.

It was not the fish, leek or garlic that they wished for. It was the freedom to eat and not have one’s innermost secrets revealed. They wanted to eat without responsibility.

The fact that they could enjoy the flavor of these foods while eating the manna would be of no comfort to them. Their own livestock would not satisfy them. They wished to relate to Hashem on a totally different level.

Moshe was challenged. All is within G-d’s ability. G-d can miraculously produce anything. But this is exactly what they did not want. They wanted food that would come to them in the natural order of things, not through miracles. How could that be managed in the desert?

Hashem understood. He understood that it is not the produce of Mitzrayim that they wished for, but they wished to be worthy of eating the flesh of animals. And so, He gave it to them. He gave them more than they had ever asked for.

Had they eaten their fill, and then desisted, perhaps they would have survived. Avodas Hashem is a ladder and if they felt that they were not worthy yet of climbing so high, Hashem might have granted them the chance to serve Him in a somewhat lower fashion, taking smaller steps, rising steadily.

But they ate, and ate, and then ate some more. They ate out of taavah, out of passion and self gratification. They ate when there was no longer a basis for eating. The ones who did so revealed their true inner self.

Hashem was brought to anger. And they were smitten down with the flesh of their prey still between their teeth.

Fri, January 24 2020 27 Teves 5780