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Moses Had A Bad Day (Beha’alotecha – 06/02/18)

Rabbi Neil Schuman

Moses Had A Bad Day
We all have our bad days. Sometimes we’re just not up to par.
In our Parsha, Moses, our great leader, has one of those days. It appears as though our fearless leader just “loses it.” After a year of eating the same food, Manna, day after day, the desert-bound Jews start craving “real foods.” Numbers 11: 4-15
“Then the children of Israel began to cry, and they said, “Who will feed us meat? We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt, 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…” Moses heard the people weeping with their families, each one at the entrance to his tent. He said to the Lord, “Why have You treated Your servant so badly? Why have I not found favor in Your eyes that You place the burden of this entire people upon me? Did I conceive this entire people? Did I give birth to them, that You say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom as the nurse carries the suckling’ Where can I get meat to give all these people? I alone cannot carry this entire people for it is too hard for me. And if this is how You’re going to treat me, just kill me now and let me not see my suffering!”
Wow, this is the man who brought plagues upon Pharaoh, split the Red sea, smashed the Tablets of the Law and ground the Golden Calf to dust, now he’s crippled because the masses want meat? It must have been an off day for Moses. But even here there’s a great message.
There’s progression in the relationship between God and humanity. When Adam sins, he hides. When Cain kills his brother, he’s hoping God won’t find out. When Noah’s told that all of humankind is to be wiped out, he doesn’t make a peep.
Abraham is the first we find to speak up to the Lord. When told of Sodom’s demise, he requests mercy on behalf of the righteous in the city.
God promises Abraham when he leaves for Israel he’ll become a great nation, but after ten more years of barrenness, he complains of his childlessness to God. We find Jacob speaking to God for relief from his problems with Esau and Laban.
Moses speaks to God forcefully to forgive the Jewish people, but it only in this story that we see a man open his heart to God. Bearing the burden of this people has finally gotten to Moses. With no one to share his sorrow other than the Lord, he lets his feelings and fears flow.
We don’t find an insulted or punitive God; rather a compassionate One. God recognizes that Moses has been taking on too much by himself and instructs him to share his gift of prophecy with others. They will help him lead the people.
We will all come to that day when we need another to lean on. If we’re lucky, we can open up to a parent, spouse, friend or therapist. Yet “Hashem Echad-God is One” informs us that God is one being who is everywhere. There’s a loving Being, a Force that listens to us and is concerned about our struggles. God may not alter the universe to accommodate our every wish, but we always have Someone to talk to, Who desires our speech. Moses advanced the Divine relationship for all of us. Thankfully, when we need someone to share our struggles, we don’t have to be Moses to initialize this heavenly conversation.

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