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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Don’t Curse the Darkness, Create Light

by Rabbi Daniel Epstein (Posted on June 8, 2023)
Topics: Behaalotecha, Sefer Bamidbar, Torah

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The purely righteous do not complain of the dark, they increase the light; they do not complain of evil, they increase the good; they do not complain of heresy, but increase faith; they do not complain of ignorance, they increase wisdom.” Rav Kook Ha Cohen

In this week’s parsha Behaalotecha, we learn about a ritual called Pesach Sheni, second passover, in which a group of people approach Moshe, and ask to bring the korban Pesach, the passover offering, since they were unable to bring because we were ritually impure. Is there something he can do for them, is there some way to remedy this situation for the future, is there some way they can be involved.

This is in sharp contrast to the multitude of complaints that are lobbed at Moshe throughout Sefer Bamidbar, including in this week’s parsha where a group of people complain about the Man, their free food in the desert. They complain and say how the food they ate in Egypt was so much better. They have a selective memory where they are remembering the past in a weird way. They are ignoring how they were enslaved and in indentured servitude, and are focusing on the food they were given.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks states that Judaism is the only civilization whose golden age has not yet happened. We are still looking to the future, looking to create a better world. So the group that asked about Pesach Sheni, about second passover, were answered. Moses came up with a solution and actually created a second opportunity for passover, showing you that you can always do teshuvah. There are always ways of coming back and filling in what we missed. The group that complained about the mann are forever calcified as complainers about free food and about a wonderful gift that God gave us. I think the deep lesson here is about constructive criticism. In order to be productive and positive and contribute to the world we have to look forward, look how we can improve or how we can make something better, or how we can be involved to help future generations. not just to look and complain about the past and think about how things used to be or even how we thought they used to be. There is a beautiful quote by John Schaar that really sums this all up.

“The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.”

I hope we can all together this shabbat think about creating a better future for all of us.

Shabbat Shalom.