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Table Talk: Behaalotecha Print E-mail

Shabbat TableThe Challenges of Change: I am not referring to the difficulty of change but to the challenges that arise from change. It is a challenge to adjust to a move from one city to another. A new relationship challenges us in unexpected ways. There are numerous examples in this portion of transition of the challenges that arise from change: One of the complaints about the Manna is that it was a perfect food and there was no waste. People did not feel human. They could not believe that they had changed through eating Manna and experiencing the miracles of the exodus, Revelation and God’s care in the desert. They had changed but continued to see themselves, as they were two years earlier. The change occurred; they refused it. However, they had no trouble acknowledging other changes: The portion describes Manna that is compared to mother’s milk. It is a perfect food. The Manna could taste like anything other than foods that nursing mothers should not eat. Moshe compares himself to a nursemaid. The people are compared to a nursing baby, but the baby quickly grows teeth and wants to leap from mother’s milk to meat. Moshe is torn by their change and the nature of his relationship with Israel, well, changes. Do we believe in change? For example: When we finish our prayers do we act as if we believe that our prayers changed our lives and us? People who believe in prayer will never speak and disturb others who are praying. People who speak while others pray usually do not believe in the power of prayer. Consider changes in your life and how you responded to those changes.


The Vocabulary of Evil:

Maimonides rules that one who does not believe that Moses achieved a unique level of prophecy is a heretic. After Aaron and Miriam spoke to Moses, God reacted by teaching them that Moses was different from all other prophets. Does that mean that Miriam and Aaron were heretics before they learned that Moses was different? Did they not know that the man who went up to Sinai for three sets of 40 days and nights was a different sort of prophet? Did they not experience Sinai? My father zt”l taught that Miriam and Aaron knew that Moses was different, but assumed that his great level of prophecy was a gift from God and not earned. They therefore spoke to him as less of a great human being than he was, and that is considered Lishon Harah. This implies that we must always speak with others with an appreciation of all they are. Anything less may cause us to converse in the vocabulary of evil.

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