By Mark Gerson
The Torah, in Numbers 11, offers a tantalizing possibility. In so doing, the Torah performs its wonder in guiding us toward a happier, better, and more meaningful life today—in this case by showing us what might be the most fundamental human need and what it means to be created in the image of God.
In the previous chapter, Moses pleads with his beloved Gentile father-in-law, Jethro, to stay with the Jews for what would become the crucial final months in the wilderness en route to the promised land. He tells Jethro that he had been “as eyes for us” and uses the term “good” several times in describing their situation. Without substantively commenting, Jethro declines, saying that he will return to his family instead.
Does Jethro—the “eyes” of the Jews—see the situation as something other than “good”?
Three days after Jethro departs, the Jews start behaving “like complainers.” What a phrase—“like complainers”! The language indicates that they are not actually complaining. And how could we be? We Jews are protected by God from the heat of the day and the cold of the night, we are led by the great Moses and his remarkable siblings, we are spiritually nourished by the Torah, we have defeated every external enemy, we are en route to the promised land, and we are fed by manna reliably delivered from Heaven that tastes like “wafers dipped in honey.”
Read more at What We Crave.