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Table Talk Series II: Behaalotecha Print E-mail

ShabbatAs Complainers: (See The Blame Game & Kvetching) “The people took to seeking complaints.” (Numbers 11:1) Rashi explains that they were, “Looking for an excuse to turn away from God.” There are times when we will argue with others over important issues. However, there are also times when the issues are only an excuse to find a cause about which to fight. A person will want to fight against responsibility or authority, but unwilling to openly admit his intention, will look for an issue against which he will fight. The issue is not his real agenda. It’s only an excuse. This relates to another Rashi that describes the people leaving Sinai as, A child running away from school.” What can we learn from the responses of God and Moses about how to respond to such complaints? How can we recognize in ourselves whether our complaints are legitimate or only excuses?

Perspective
“At the image of God does he gaze,” (Numbers 12:8) “Yabit.” In Lech Lecha, when God says to Abraham, “Gaze, now, toward the Heavens,” Rashi explains that God lifted Abraham above the stars so that he could look down from that perspective. Rashi defines “Habeit,” as looking down from a high place. How would Rashi explain how Moses gazed upon the image of God?

A Position Earned
“Gather to Me seventy men from the elders of Israel.” (Numbers 11:16) Those who were the foremen who allowed themselves to be beaten by the Egyptians rather than inflict punishment on their brethren. (See Exodus 5:14) For being willing to suffer to protect their fellow Jews, they deserved to be elevated to high positions. (Rashi) In last week’s portion, “They were the leaders of the tribes,” (Numbers 7:2) Rashi explains that the twelve Princes earned their position because they had been the Jewish foremen in Egypt and had been beaten because of the Jews. Examine the differences between the two Rashis and discuss the why some of the foremen were chosen as Princes and some as Elders.
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