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Be'halot'cha(Numbers 8-12)

The Best Things In Life Are Never Free

As they say in Hollywood, "You just can't make this stuff up." There are some things in the Torah that could not have been written unless they actually happened.

This is the scene: approximately 3-6 million Jews leave Egypt and find themselves in the desert. Now imagine all the issues and difficulties they would face.

Of all those things could you have at all imagined that they would say this:

"We remember the fish we ate in Egypt for free, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic." (Numbers 11:5).

Don't get me wrong, I like fish as much as the next guy, fresh cod or mahi mahi can make my day, but give me a break, onions! That's what you call me in here for?

As much as I really don't want to do this, it's really worse than it sounds. The Jews were slaves in Egypt for crying out loud, free fish? You've got to be kidding me.

I am.

Rashi, the medieval commentator, points out there is no way they got free fish. Egypt wasn't a cruise ship vacation, for sure they had to pay for the fish. Not only that, but what is it with the cucumbers?

But the truth is, it's really worse than even that. While in the desert the Jewish people had food, it was a miraculous food called Manna, it fell every day and it tasted of whatever you wanted to think of.


No not everything. There were five things it didn't taste of.

Yes, you've guessed it, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.

What about fish?

Nope, the Manna even tasted like fish, it just wasn't free.

You mean to tell me, that this Manna was like walking into a restaurant and everything was on the house except a few incidentals, and that's what they are complaining about?

You've got it.

Your right, you can't make this stuff up.

So, why couldn't it taste like leeks?

Rashi explains these five vegetables are difficult for nursing mothers.

Ok, last question, if the Manna fish wasn't free, how much did it cost?

More than they were willing to pay.

The best things in life are never free.

Let me explain, imagine this, five minutes ago you won the grand lottery, $250 million. Take a minute and ask yourself how you feel.

I don't care what is going on, who burnt the dinner, what your boss did or your kids ruined, you are now having one of the best moments of your life.

What changed?


"What do you mean nothing, I can finally quit my job, buy the Lamborghini I've always wanted, plus a host of other stuff."

Yes, but that's tomorrow.

Right this minute now, nothing has changed, and yet you probably feel better than you have ever felt. No matter what is going on today, no matter what you were complaining about and all the problems you were moaning about, if you found out you won $250 million you are having a great day.

That same day, which five minutes previously was nothing special, all of a sudden is very different story.

Listen, if money doesn't do it for you, substitute whatever would, but the point is, how we think about tomorrow changes how we feel right now, no matter what kind of day we're having.

In other words, nothing ruins our day if we want to pay the price of having an incredible day.

"What's that price?"

It's the most expensive cost there is.

To experience the best things in life you have to think.

In other words, you could have the most incredible day today if you imagined that tomorrow all your problems would be solved.

"But they wont."

YES THEY WILL! Maybe not exactly tomorrow, but no one is living with the same problems for the last seven years. Most problems get solved fairly quickly, it's just that by the time those are solved a new bunch creeps in. But nevertheless, these are going to be over. Once you realize that's inevitable, you will be ecstatic.

"But that requires thinking."

That's what the Jewish people did not want to pay. They had to think what kind of food they would experience. It's taste, texture, flavorings, temperature, everything, every time.

The truth is, we don't have to think about everything, and even the little we do have to think makes us uncomfortable. They had to think at every meal. Relative to that, slavery in Egypt felt free.

So why do we let people and experiences get us down?

Because we would rather be a slave then to experience the best things in life.

* * *


Question 1: Would you prefer to be richer than you could possibly imagine and forbidden to work, or stay as you are now?

Question 2: If every day, all the money you made had to be spent that very day or it would vanish, how would you spend your days?

Question 3: Describe a day that had no problems.

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Anonymous, June 23, 2016 12:18 PM

Excellent article! Thanks for posting!

(3) Anonymous, May 28, 2010 7:38 PM


Wow! i am blown away!

(2) Rabbi Baars, May 28, 2010 3:44 PM

Same Problems

If you title your problems generically, then we all have the same problem forever: LIFE! But problems morph. Whereas we learn to deal with one circumstance, let's say money, we may also be dealing with money 10 years from now, but the needs are different, the amounts are different, we just call it the same, but it isn't.

(1) Anonymous, May 27, 2010 11:46 PM

I do have the same problem for seven years.

As a matter of fact, I've had the same problem for 20 years. Other problems I've had for longer. Wish it wasn't true. If you want any details, I don't mind, but for now I leave it at that.

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