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 Parshas Behaaloscha - Vol. 4, Issue 35
Compiled by Oizer Alport


Zacharnu es hadaga asher nochal b’Mitzrayim chinam (11:5)

During their travels in the wilderness, a group of complainers began to protest the Manna that they were forced to eat day after day. They wailed that they missed the fish that they used to eat in Egypt, and now they had nothing to look forward to except Manna. Commenting on this complaint, the Medrash Pliah cryptically remarks “Mi’kan she’madlikin neiros b’Shabbos” – from here we may derive that it is obligatory to light candles for Shabbos, a mitzvah which has no apparent connection to their grievance.

            The Chida explains by noting that we must first understand what they were complaining about. Rashi writes (11:5) that the Manna tasted like whatever the person eating it desired. If so, why were they mourning the fish they used to eat in Egypt when they were capable of making the Manna taste like fish with no effort whatsoever?

The Gemora in Yoma (74b) teaches that although a person could make the Manna taste like anything he desired, it nevertheless retained its original appearance. Even though the complainers were able to make the Manna taste like fish, they lacked the pleasure and satiety which comes from seeing the food that they wanted to taste. The Gemora adds that a blind person won’t enjoy or become as full from a meal as a person with normal vision who consumes the same food.

In light of this complaint, the Medrash questioned how a person will be able to avoid the same dilemma on Shabbos since he won’t be able to appreciate the Shabbos delicacies if he is forced to eat them in darkness. The Medrash concluded that from their protest, we may derive that a person is obligated to light candles so that he can see and enjoy his food on Shabbos!


V’hamon k’zera gad hu v’eino k’ein hab’dolach (11:7)

            During their travels in the wilderness, a group of complainers began to protest the Manna that they were forced to eat day after day. They wailed that they missed the succulent tastes of the meat, fish, and vegetables that they ate in Egypt, and now they had nothing to look forward to except Manna. Rashi writes that in response to their complaint, Hashem wrote in the Torah a description of how wonderful the Manna was as if to say, “Look, inhabitants of the world, at what my children are complaining about.”

Rav Pam notes that although we don’t merit hearing it, a Bas Kol (Heavenly voice) still frequently expresses similar frustration over the things that we complain about. We live in a time of unprecedented freedom and material bounty. We are surrounded by a society which influences us to believe that we are entitled to immediate gratification and to have everything we want exactly how we want it. If we would only step back and view our lives with the proper perspective, we would be so overwhelmed by the blessings we enjoy that there would be no room to complain about trivialities.

            Although we don’t normally hear Hashem’s direct communication on this point, sometimes He sends us the message about priorities and values through a human agent, as illustrated in the following story. A group of yeshiva students were once complaining about the quality and selection of the meals they were served. Each boy heaped more and more criticism on every aspect of the food, until they were jolted to their senses by one of the elderly teachers in the yeshiva. The Rabbi couldn’t help but overhear their loud complaints in the dining hall and walked over to teach a succinct lesson: “In Auschwitz we would have done anything to have gotten such food.”

            Every time that a husband comes home to a messy house, filled with children’s toys and dirty clothes, and berates his wife over her inability to keep their house clean, a Heavenly voice challenges, “How many families would do anything to have children and would gladly clean up the mess that accompanies them, and here is somebody who has been blessed with healthy children and is upset that they make his house disorderly? Where are his priorities!?”

When a husband or a child complains about eating the same supper for the third consecutive night, Hashem can’t help but point out how many poverty-stricken families would do anything to eat this dinner every night for a year, if only to enjoy a nutritional and filling meal. Every time that the parents of the bride and groom quarrel over petty wedding-related issues, a Bas Kol wonders how many parents will cry themselves to sleep that evening over their inability to find a proper match for their aging son or daughter, and who would gladly accede to any terms the other side would set … if only there would be another side.

The next time that we find ourselves upset about issues which are objectively nothing more than nuisances and minor inconveniences, we should remember the lesson of the Manna and open our ears to hear Hashem’s response to our complaints.


Vayakam ha’am kol hayom ha’hu v’kol halayla v’kol yom hamacharas vaya’asfu es ha’slav hamamit asaf asarah chamorim vayisht’chu lahem shatoach sevivos hamachane (11:32)

During their travels in the wilderness, a group of complainers began to protest the Manna that they were forced to eat day after day. They wailed that they missed the succulent meat that they ate in Egypt, and now they had nothing to look forward to except Manna. Hashem responded by sending them an abundance of meat.

The Torah records that the people spent an entire day, night, and the following day gathering the meat. The person who gathered the least meat had 10 chomers. The Vilna Gaon explains the mathematics behind this statistic. The Torah relates (11:31) that the meat fell around the Jewish camp. It stands to reason that those on the outside of the camp were closest to it and were able to make the most trips and gather the most meat. The people who collected the least were those who lived in the middle of the camp.

The Gemora in Pesachim (93b) teaches that an average person is capable of walking 10 parsaos in a day. The Gemora in Berachos (54b) teaches that the size of the entire Jewish camp was three parsaos by three parsaos. A person walking from the middle of the camp to the edge and back to his tent would traverse three parsaos. Since they gathered for two days and one night, each person was able to walk a total of 30 parsaos. Given that each round-trip for a person living in the middle of the camp was three parsaos, he could make a total of 10 round-trips. Since an average person is able to carry one chomer, those who lived in the middle of the camp and gathered the least ended up with exactly 10 chomers!


Answers to the weekly Points to Ponder are now available!
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Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):

1)     Rashi writes (8:2) that there was a step in front of the Menorah upon which the Kohen would stand when cleaning out and lighting it. As the Menorah was only 18 tefachim tall (approximately 5 feet), why was it necessary for the Kohen to stand on a step to light it? (Peninei Kedem)

2)     Rashi writes (27:5) that Moshe was punished by the laws of inheritance being hidden from him, which required him to ask Hashem regarding them in response to the argument made by the daughters of Tzelafchad. Why wasn’t Moshe’s unfamiliarity with the laws of Pesach Sheini, regarding which he also had to ask Hashem in response to the complaint of the impure men, similarly considered a punishment? (Rabbeinu Bechaye)

3)     Moshe asked Yisro to remain with them in the wilderness to serve as eyes for them (10:31). Why did they need Yisro’s advice or guidance when all of their travels were conducted based on Divine instruction (9:17-18)? (Rabbeinu Bechaye, Peninim MiShulchan Gevoha)

4)     In what way were Eldad and Meidad (11:26) related to Moshe? (Targum Yonason ben Uziel, Daas Z’keinim, Peirush HaRosh)

5)     The Torah testifies (12:3) that Moshe was more humble than any person on the face of the earth. Was this true only in relation to those in his generation, or even in reference to those from earlier generations such as the Avos? (Avos D’Rav Nosson 9:2, Sifri Behaaloscha 43)

 © 2009 by Oizer Alport. Permission is granted to reproduce and distribute as long as credit is given. To receive weekly via email or to send comments or suggestions, write to


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