Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch… what is wrong with these people? Anyone would think that Jews were born to complain. Oh, perish the thought? The parsha of B’ha’alot’cha, though, seems full of it. On the one hand, Aaron is lighting the lamps of the Menorah – surely a wonder to behold. The Levites are purified and inaugurated into service and some of the rules of Passover are given. On this occasion, some ask Moses a very reasonable question, not because of any ill feeling, but because they want to be allowed to prepare the Passover offering, but are concerned about their having become ritually unclean. The divine signs for moving and settling are described, more wondrous sights, surely awe inspiring, what with the cloud rising from the Tent and settling when the people were to come to rest. Yet the people complain and moan. On one occasion we are not even told what about, so we can assume it was some pretty heavy grouching about everything and nothing. Even Moses, who usually pleads on behalf of the people and begs God to be merciful, has had enough. Then Miriam and Aaron complain against their brother, who has showed no sign whatsoever of wishing to lord it over them, or over anyone else for that matter.
Well, that was last week. This week, in Sh’lach L’cha, Moses sends out spies, who come back, all, except Joshua and Caleb, cowed and fearful from what they have seen. Then, there is another mighty bit of kvetching, matched only by the fear that leads the people to say that they would prefer to return to Egypt and slavery. They so easily forget that the God who delivered them from slavery can surely deliver them to a new land. I like to think that, had I been there, I would have joined Caleb and Joshua and shouted to the people to be stout of heart, to believe in themselves as they believe in God. But would I?
There is more in Sh’lach L’cha, and to hear and read it, to sing, pray and join in conversation, come along this Saturday at 10:30. Pat Lipert will lead us.