As the Jewish people are traveling through the desert, and we're talking now about 7 months after they received the Torah at Mt Sinai, they start complaining. According to the Ramban they are worried about how they will survive in the center of the desert that they are now reaching, and their mistake was that they should have had a bit more bitachon, trust, that Hashem was going to get them through it.... I mean, He did create the world... He can easily provide them with enough food and safety, and they should have followed Him b'simcha. With happiness and gratitude. That's what the Ramban says.
Rashi disagrees. He says here that they were rebelling completely against God. He says that when they complained about this tiring journey in the desert and how little rest they had had, really they were complaining because they wanted specifically to make Hashem angry. Why? Because 7 months after receiving the Torah, they got sick of all these laws and commandments. The passukim say they dreamt of the 'free fish' of Egypt. Rashi points out that they weren't getting any free fish in Egypt... they weren't even given straw! Let alone fish! Rather, free fish means free of mitzvot. In Egypt they had no mitzvot. They nostalgically 'remembered' a life were everything was simple. No worries, no strings attached. They wanted that back.
Both of these explanations are difficult to understand. How can you complain when you are following Hashem in the desert? Have a little faith! However, of the two explanations, Rashi is much more difficult to understand. He says they are now rebelling against Hashem. They want to throw away the mitzvot. 7 months ago they accepted those same mitzvot and performed them with the greatest excitement! How could they have fallen so far in such a short time?
I think maybe, that really Rashi and Ramban aren't arguing so much. If we can understand the Ramban properly, maybe that will help us understand what Rashi is telling us.
The Ramban says the mistake of our ancestors here was that they didn't serve Hashem b'simcha. With happiness. Now, there are two types of service of Hashem: 1) From awe/fear, and 2) from love. We are supposed to try and combine both of them in our service of God, being motivated by both simultaneously. Which of these categories does simcha fit into? It fits into serving Hashem out of love. That's what they lost in those seven months. The Ramban never said they were rebelling against Hashem. They did everything He said, but not out of love. Only out of fear/awe of God. That's not good... You need to love Hashem in order to have a proper relationship with Him! You can't just have awe. It's just not possible to keep that up. It's too suffocating. After a while, you'll start complaining. That's what the Ramban sees going on here.
Now maybe we can understand Rashi. How can they rebel against Hashem and His mitzvot now, 7 months after exitedly receiving them? For exactly the same reason as the Ramban said: Because they only served Hashem out of awe/fear. Rashi just thinks we are a little bit further down the line than the Ramban. First you start complaining, then you've had enough: "Forget it, we don't want these mitzvot. It's too many obligations!" That's the second step, and it all follows from not serving Hashem out of love, and only out of awe or fear.
Don't get me wrong... It's important to serve Hashem out of awe. He is our King and Creator, and a certain respect has to be there, but if we stop here, then slowly we start to resent having all these 'obligations' all the time, and you're in for a rough ride.
We need to serve Hashem first and foremost out of love. That's the better motivation, and that's what we should aim for. To serve Hashem out of love means to realise how special He is, that He is perfect, and that He created me and gives me so many good things. More than that, He gave me His Torah and mitzvot, a way to connect to Him that would not be possible otherwise. When we realise these things, and internalise them, we realise these commandments are not 'obligations'.... they are 'privileges'. They are the greatest gift, and source of meaning and happiness, that a person could ever receive. When that is our motivation to serve Hashem, to fulfill His Torah, we'll never ever come to complain again. We'll just become more and more grateful that He chose us to be His nation, and gave us a way to connect to Him and feel close to Him, whenever and wherever we are.
I have to make an amendment to the title of this dvar Torah... Really you don't only need love. You need fear as well.... I just wanted to make it catchy, and there's no song "All you need is both love and fear, you got it", so I took poetic license. But love of Hashem is more important. And you do need it. And I'm sure as well, that if you haven't got it at the moment, when you stop and think for awhile.... you will.
Shabbat Shalom!

Add comment

Have something to say?
Please make your comment below!
All comments are reviewed prior to publication. Absolutely NO loshon hara or anything derogatory or hurtful to anyone will be permitted on the website.

Security code