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“We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt free of charge; the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic” (Numbers 11:5)
Could it really be that the Jewish people were missing all this in Egypt, the place that destroyed them physically and spiritually? Do we really think that the greatest generation in the history of man that saw G-d face to face at Mount Sinai, saw all the plagues in Egypt and the miracles in the desert really remembered “the good times and food” in Egypt? What is the deeper explanation here?
The challenge for this generation was that G-d wanted them to work on their emunah i.e. their belief in Him and how He runs the world. This was done through the plagues where the Jewish people witnessed the utter destruction of the Egyptians and their country while they were left unscathed. At the same time, they saw and ate the manna that sustained them in the desert. Nonetheless, G-d wanted them to continue in the desert so they could flex these emunah muscles to reach even a higher spiritual level to be able to enter the land of Israel.
Through the sin of the spies, that generation was not allowed to enter the Promised land. At some level their belief in G-d was weak. How could the Jewish people not think that G-d would help them defeat the “giants” in the land and where is their reliance on Him for all their needs?
The reality is that if someone has food now and is being taken care of, they cannot think about the future of “what will be” because that is a lack of trust in G-d. This means they have to take each day as it comes. The problem is that although the manna came yesterday and the day before that and the day before that, who is to say that it will come tomorrow?
The issue possibly is that they may have thought that all their merit had been used up and they were no longer worthy of such miracles. The spies themselves did not doubt that G-d could destroy the nations in the land of Egypt. They were afraid that their spiritual “luck” had run out and they were no longer under G-d’s Divine protection.
We learn this out from our forefather Yaakov. He tells G-d to provide for him and take care of his needs. G-d assures him that He will but Yaakov asks a second time. The commentaries tell us that the reason for this is because he felt if he does something wrong, he will no longer be under G-d’s Divine protection. In other words, when we do the right thing, all things being equal our needs should be taken care of.
The problem is that we do things we shouldn’t and therefore there are ramifications for our actions and we don’t merit the same Divine help. We must realize that we cannot rest on our laurels and have to be constantly striving in Torah and mitzvos, never letting our guard down against the evil inclination. That way, we are always growing spiritually trying to reach higher and higher levels to reconnect ourselves to G-d and His Torah.
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