One of the incidents recounted in this week’s Sedra is that of the Slav. The Torah tells us that the Eirev Rav (Hasafsufa – the Egyptians who had attached themselves to Am-Yisroel) had a burning desire for meat. Klal-Yisroel had been receiving Manna every day as their food and there was now a tag along element of the nation that that was complaining about not having meat. The Torah then tells us that this craving for meat spread to parts of Am-Yisroel proper. Hashem responds to their demands in a most fascinating fashion. Hashem tells them that not only will they receive meat but that they will have so much meat for a month straight that they will be sickened by it.
While it is difficult to understand how a part of Klal-Yisroel could complain about heavenly food, the ‘how’ of Hashem’s response appears quite astonishing. It is as if His answer is formulated in the form of a barely veiled threat: “you want meat? – I’ll give you meat…”.
Manna was an extremely special food. From its every characteristic it was clear that it was a heavenly food. Whatever one received sufficed to satiate, and after digesting man one’s body didn’t produce any waste. Manna was a completely perfect food. Meat on the other hand is tasty but it is a complicated food on many levels. There are many steps that must be taken before meat can be made palatable.
Klal-Yisroel was complaining about the Manna; they were saying that they were already sickened by this perfect food. Generally the reason people may become disgusted by something is because eventually they can, and do focus on the negative aspects. Somehow Klal-Yisroel had started to complain about the fact that they had something perfect and they were asking Hashem instead for something far from perfect – meat. The only way Hashem could teach them how they misconstrued their own state of being was to show them the opposite side of the spectrum. The only way Hashem could teach them this lesson was by allowing them to contrast this perfect food with something that was far from perfect like Slav.
In life we often focus on the negative; often this negative focus prevents us from seeing how perfect so many aspects of our lives in fact are.
A very warm Good Shabbos, Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski