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Sometimes you just can`t talk sense into a complainer. No matter how much you give them, they`ll find something to kvetch (complain) about.

Kvetching in Paradise

Translated and Adapted by Braha Bender

 

The generation that travelled through the desert for forty years lived the good life. Clouds of Glory surrounded them and protected them from any danger the desert might have had in store. They were led by a pillar of cloud. Every morning they breakfasted on manna falling from the sky. The manna could be ground, baked, cooked, or fried. It tasted like anything they wanted. The manna was also the ultimate health food – for those forty years, sickness was unheard of. The Torah summarizes what life was like back then: “...This forty-year period Hashem, your G-d, was with you; you did not lack a thing” (Deuteronomy 2:7).

If only we had been born back then, huh? Life would have been so easy. No need to work for a living. No health problems. No leadership issues – Moshe (Moses) and Aharon (Aaron) were standing at the helm. Imagine – an idyllic life of Torah study, material abundance, and a wonderful sense of intimacy with the Almighty.

Apparently, the generation of the desert didn’t see it that way. “The people took to seeking complaints; it was evil in the ears of Hashem, and Hashem heard and His wrath flared, and a fire of Hashem burned against them, and it consumed the edge of the camp” (Numbers 11:1). Despite everything they had been given, the Jewish People had complaints, and were punished for it.

When the fire broke out, the Jews cried out to Moshe to make it stop. Moshe prayed for the fire to die down, and it did. Don’t you think that they would have learned their lesson? They didn’t. They had another complaint. Manna wasn’t good enough; they wanted meat.

So the Almighty sent them meat, and not just any meat, but pheasant. Ten large piles of pheasant was the least any Jew gathered - most gathered a lot more. Were they finally happy? No. Now they wanted bread...

Sometimes you just can’t talk sense into a complainer. No matter how much you give them, they’ll find something to kvetch about.  It’s not just what they do. Finding problems and harping on them is a lifestyle.

So what can we say about such a generation? They were seriously ungrateful! How could they live in such a paradise and still have complaints? If we were in their place, wouldn’t we be happy?

Would we?

Just imagine telling one of your ancestors, who had lived hundreds of years ago, that you no longer needed to go schlep water out of a well to have a drink. Rather, you’d explain, all you need to do is turn a handle and – presto! – water comes out of a spout in the wall, fresh and clean. He would probably give you a strange look and shrug his shoulders in disbelief.

“No, no, really, grandpa,” you would continue, going on to tell him that there is no longer any need to go to all the trouble of gathering wood and kindling a fire, either. Instead we have stoves and ovens and microwaves. We also have a refrigerator and freezer to keep things cold and fresh. No need to carry loads of laundry to the riverside, grandpa. We’ve got washing machines, dryers, irons, and even dry-cleaning if you need it.

At this point, your ancestor would probably be standing there shaking his head muttering, “Could this be true? Only when the mashiach (messiah) comes, when the mashiach comes...”

But, grandpa, the list isn’t finished. We also have electric lights, air conditioning, watches, pens, computers, calculators, and thousands of other modern-day conveniences... It’s true!

Now just imagine your ancestor’s reaction when you add just one little detail to the picture you painted of convenient modern-day life. “Uh, grandpa, what with all that stuff...people are still not really so happy.”

“Not so happy?!,” he would explode.

Grandpa, you would try to explain, they drive cars wherever they want to go, they talk to whomever they want to whenever they want to on their telephones and cell phones, they fax and e-mail in seconds all over the world...but most people are basically pretty stressed out and bitter about their lives.

“They live in paradise and still have complaints?,” your ancestor would ask curiously.

Have we really grown and changed since the generation of the desert? Or are we as ungrateful as they were?...


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