G-d blessed the Jewish people with the miraculous Manna to collect each morning as they traveled and camped in the desert. Most, of course, were grateful for this daily sustenance, literally a gift from Heaven, but many of them complained. “If only we had meat! We remember the fish we had in Egypt, the vegetables, and the melons.. All we see now is Manna!”
The verse that follows (Bamidbar 11:7) their gripe makes an unusual pivot, lauding the uniqueness of the Manna: “The manna was like coriander seed, it looked like crystal. It tasted like cake, kneaded with oil, and it would fall every night with the dew. “Why does the narrative suddenly shift from the complaints against the Manna, to a detailed description of its qualities?
Doris and Beatrice rocked back and forth outside the retirement home, chatting about their newlywed children. “Doris! Don’t get me started about my son, Brian. His new wife Amy is so needy. Every day he has to call her from work, to check up on her. When he gets home, he does whatever he can to please her. He offers her fruits, snacks. Then he has to entertain her and sit with her the whole evening, listening to her babble on, keeping her busy with board games and walks. He never gets a break! But, enough about my troubles.. Doris, how is your daughter Ellen doing?” “Oh, I’m so happy you asked, Beatrice. Ellen’s dear husband, David, is so considerate – an angel! Every day he calls from work to see how she’s doing, and when he gets home he only wants to please her. He offers her fruit, goes for long walks, plays board games… she is so blessed!”
Rashi (the classic medieval commentary of Rav Shlomo Yitzchaki zt”l) explains the changing narrative: The Jewish people complained, “All we see is Manna!” However, at the same time they were complaining, G-d bemoaned the incident saying, “People of the world! Look at what my children are complaining about… The Manna was really so special. It was like coriander seeds, crystal…”
What allows people to get frustrated and complain when things don’t go their way? Most often it stems from a lack of perspective. If we take a moment to contemplate the blessings we have, we can see our life in the proper context. How could people blessed with Manna from heaven, desire a return to Egypt to eat fish and melons? Only because they ignored the blessings of the unique gift they were given.
If only G-d’s call, “See what my children are complaining about…” would ring in our ears, if we’d take the time to see in full perspective what we’re complaining about, the bountiful blessings would break through the negativity, and transform our thinking to gratitude, contentment and joy. (Based on Sefer Atara L’Melech, Rav Avraham Pam zt”l).