Trying to Escape: Book of Numbers Response on Ask the Rabbi
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Trying to Escape

When the Israelites were in the wilderness and were 'craving' meat so badly, why didn't they just use some of the cattle that they had. I realize some of that was for offerings, but there had to be a few extra. This has always stuck in my mind.

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Your question was asked in the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni - B'Ha'alotcha 736).

The answer is that they had plenty, and were just looking for things what to complain about, even if there was no reason to complain. See "Rashi" Numbers 11:1,4, that they were trying to turn away from God, and were fabricating excuses.

We see from here the inclination to move away from God, to escape into a "world" of independence.

Kurt Vonnegut's novel, "Breakfast of Champions," brings home this point in a dramatic way. In one scene, the main character, Kilgore Trout, is having a drink in a bar, minding his own business. Suddenly, he feels an awesome presence is about to enter the bar. He begins to sweat.

Who walks in?

Kurt Vonnegut. When the author of the book steps into the novel to visit to his character, Kilgore's perception of the world is changed forever. He realizes that he does not exist independently. Rather, every moment of life requires a new stroke of the author's pen. Without the author, he ceases to exist.

So what is Kilgore's reaction? He starts to run away! In an attempt to maintain independence, he tries to hide from the very source of his existence!

The metaphor is clear. God has His plans, and we are destined to either follow along, or suffer the consequences. The choice is quite clear. The only true existence is the Infinite. And why fight it?? Whenever we peel back the outer layer of this world and get a glimpse of the higher Infinite dimension, we have a moment of awe-filled transcendence. We lift beyond our finite limitations and touch eternity. Perfection itself.

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