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Bye Bye, Complainers

By Tzvi Fishman
6/26/2008, 12:00 AM

Apparently, there is a Jewish gene for complaining. In any crowd, there are always the Complainers who have to spoil things for everyone else.

 In this week’s Torah portion, we meet them again, Korach and his Crowd of Complainers. This time, they complain about the leadership of Moshe and Aaron. Two of them, Datan and Aviram, are longtime Complainers. They complained about Moshe in Egypt; they complained about the travel accommodations in the wilderness; now they are complaining again that Moshe has led the Jews out “of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness” (Bamidbar, 16:13).

What chutzpah! Look how they turn things around. Eretz Yisrael is called the land flowing with milk and honey, but they describe Egypt in this way! Sound familiar? Over our history, Complainers have rejected Eretz Yisrael and found their own lands of milk and honey in Spain and France and Germany and America and Japan.

The Torah commentator, the Abarbanel, reveals what was really at the core of their rebellion. In a last ditch effort to save the situation and give the Complainers a chance to repent before the test of the incense, Moshe sends for Datan and Aviram, but they stubbornly answer, “We will not come up” (Bamidbar, there). The simple meaning is that they will not come up to the Mishkan to meet with Moshe, but the Abarbanel teaches that their declaration "לא נעלה" was a call of rebellion, meaning “We will not make aliyah to Eretz Yisrael.” They remained adamant in their opposition to G-d’s plan for the Jewish People, that even if G-d were to forgive them for the sin of the Spies and allow the generation to enter the Land of Israel, “We will not come up.” This was the source of their rebellion against the leadership of Moshe, who was committed to bringing the Jews to Israel. They wanted the milk and honey of Brooklyn and Paris and Mexico City, where they could remain important people, and not Eretz Yisrael, where they would be just another worker of the Land.

"Fishman and his blogs are true!"

We all know the rest of the story. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed up all the Complainers. Hikers traveling through the Sinai today, can still hear their screams emanating from the bowels of the wilderness, “Moshe and his Torah are true!” Just like the Complainers of today will one day proclaim, “Fishman and his blogs are true!”

Shabbat Shalom