Parashat Behaalotekha: Stand
What does it mean to complain about something? Complaining typically has less than good connotations. It just sounds annoying. It is the kind of word you hear, and you just want to roll your eyes. According to the dictionary to complain means, “to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault.” It is a way to express something that feels wrong. Although maybe sometimes we overuse the privilege. However I want you to think about complaining in another way. Perhaps through another perspective, what might be considered complaining to one person, could be standing up for oneself by another.
In this week’s Torah portion, Behaalotekha, the Israelites complain to G-d about the Manna He has been sending them to eat, “But the multitude among them began to have strong cravings. Then even the children of Israel once again began to cry, and they said, "Who will feed us meat? We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt free of charge, the cucumbers, the watermelons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now, our bodies are dried out, for there is nothing at all; we have nothing but manna to look at (Numbers 11:4-6)." The Israelites missed meat! You may be asking yourself, how can they be complaining? G-d has been providing them food to eat. How could they be complaining when they could be starving? With that being said, perhaps in the minds of the Israelites they weren’t “complaining” like you or I think of complaining. Perhaps, they were just trying to share with G-d that Manna wasn’t completely sustaining their bodies, their health. They found a way that would get G-d’s attention and make a change. In the end G-d heard their cries and gave them real meat to eat.
Tonight at your Shabbat dinner table, think about “complaining” in another way. Think about what your “complaining” can do. Think about what it means to express your pain, your dissatisfaction, your uneasiness, your grief. Maybe it can make a difference in someone else's world. Maybe someone else’s "complaining" could make a difference in yours. So, pay attention when you hear complaining. It could hold a deeper meaning.