Linus, of Peanuts comic strip fame, sits down for a bowl of cereal. After pouring the milk he runs off to find a book to enjoy with his cereal. First he looks for the sports section of the paper or the comics, but he can’t find either. He nervously scans the bookshelves for a book he hasn’t read, but there’s nothing to his liking. With visible desperation on his face, he runs to the comic books, flips through a few until he’s finally satisfied — he finds one that he hasn’t read. Now panting, but ever hopeful, he hurriedly returns to his cereal bowl to discover the obvious — it has long since gone soggy.
While the Heavenly gift of Manna was falling daily, many of the Jews in the desert reminisced about “the delicacies” of Egypt. They cried, “Who will feed us meat?” After the miraculous Exodus, the splitting of the sea, and while Manna fell from the sky, more faith, gratitude and self-control was expected of them. Ever patient, G-d promised they would have their meat in the desert, but with the warning that they would eat so much of it that they would become sick and die. With another open miracle, G-d directed a massive flock of quail towards the encampment. Anxious to fill their desire for meat, the people collected heaps of quail, feasted on their find, and before the supply was finished, many had met their deadly end.
What I find telling is that no one was forced to eat the quail. In fact they were warned that they would be tempted, and in the end the pursuit would kill them. It becomes clear that a warning from G-d Himself, even while His loving Manna rains from the sky, will not stop one whose sole focus is physical comfort. All the values one holds dear, building a family, a career, staying healthy, or, for Linus, enjoying a bowl of crisp cereal, will be forfeited for the sake of soothing even minor discomforts. Continually remind yourself of what you truly hold dear, and with G-d’s help you’ll maintain the proper focus and not sacrifice life for comfort.
Rabbi Mordechai Dixler
Program Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org
Are Jews today by-and-large of the quail-eating bent of those in the story?
Why does God no longer speak to Jews in the same manner as God spoke to them about the quail?
Those of the quail eating bent were amidst their own unique challenge. I would say that anyone, Jew or non-Jew, is bound to face many challenges of that sort throughout their life.
Re:Prophecy read this from jewishanswers.org
This “note” is a powerful re-set for me.
Excellent article. It really spoke to me. Thanks and Shabbat Shalom
It was just this morning that I watched my grand-children acting just as Linus did , and honestly , the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree . It was an insightful piece on the temperment and disposition of the western world in our day . . In fact it is in itself lean and provokes one to dig deeper to search out more corroborating material . Why are the world economies on the tipping point of failure? Same reason! What links the tenth commandment to your thoughts? Ditto! We could LEARN A LOT from you! Thanks so very much
I found that this really was very meaningful to me. Carole
This lesson is so wonderfully written and speaks to many areas. However, truly in the area of greed and what it will do if not paid attention too. Thanks
Many years ago I was at a retreat for the weekend where the meals were all vegetarian. I remembered this verse when some of them were anxious to go to Burger King to get a hamburger.
Thanks so much for the teaching today…Linus and his cereal but leading to deeper things. Rabbi, you do a great service putting the Holy words out there, challenging us to a better, more faithful walk with G-d. We are so blessed and favored but we want more…which is sometimes good, if we intend to help others with our gain, but usually not. Contentment and Shalom is enough. We can always choose to trust Him to provide for us well. Thank you again!
Where does it say in the text that G-d warned Bnei Yisrael that eating the quail would kill them? He only told them they would get disgusted with the quail. The death penalty that comes later is a total surprise.
Thanks for your question. Excellent point. The Midrash makes it clear they knew it would kill them and the commentary of Rashi (Num. 11:20) cites an opinion that “L’zara” does not mean sickened, but stricken by the sword, meaning death.
Here is what you said: All the values one holds dear, building a family, a career, staying healthy, or, for Linus, enjoying a bowl of crisp cereal, will be forfeited for the sake of soothing even minor discomforts. Continually remind yourself of what you truly hold dear, and with G-d’s help you’ll maintain the proper focus and not sacrifice life for comfort.
Here is what I wonder: Where is the line between what we determine that we NEED to reduce stress in our lives as opposed to what you are saying finding ways to sooth the discomforts. Don’t our discomforts become our stress?
Thanks for your insightful question. What you’re pointing out makes it clear that it takes a balance. I proposed at the end of the piece that what might help would be regularly reminding ourselves of the values we hold dear. As the awareness of those values strengthen their roots in our conscious we’ll be progressively more equipped to judge what is needed and what is not.
WoW, That was very inspirational! It reminds me of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. They had the best of everything and it wasn’t enough for them. They allowed evil to seperate them from paradise. They had food and water they did not have to pay for, yet they had to have more. They were not content with what they had. They did not realize how good they had it until they were seperated from it. They had everything provided for them. Sometimes in this modern society we live in, we are sometime not content with what we have. We always want more. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just sit back, and thank G-d for what we already have? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could learn to trust G-d completely without doubting what is possible. He is all things to all people, and can provide everything we need. We just have to allow him to do it and trust Him without doubt.
This is my birth Torah Portion and I am finding so many enlighting things that apply to and for my life. Last year my oldest son passed away and I have been in a deep search to understand how to go on. The need to remember what I truly hold dear is always a priority. Thanks for your insight.