Parashat BeHa’alotecha recounts the Jewish people's encampment at Kivrot HaTa’avah (BeMidbar 11). While the Jews are situated there, they make a seemingly uncharacteristic complaint. Throughout their wandering in the Midbar, they complain about what they lack and beg for more miracles. As they witnessed so many miracles, such as the ten plagues and Yetziat Mitzrayim, they became reliant on them. Therefore, they complain multiple times in the Midbar when they feel that they are lacking in miracles. However, in Kivrot HaTa’avah, the Jews complain that they want Hashem to remove one of their miracles and replace it with the ordinary. They ask Moshe to get rid of the Man, their constant supply of food which had the taste of oil cakes (11:8), and replace it with the less-impressive meat (11:4). They then reminisce about the fish, cucumbers, and watermelons which they ate free of charge as slaves in Mitzrayim (11:5). It seems bizarre that the Jews would rather the diet of slaves than the diet of heavenly oil cakes.
In our lives, we often find ourselves reminiscing on the past. Although the past may not have been as good as the present, the human brain seems to forget the troubles of the past and gives us the false impression that it was better than the current situation. Therefore, the Jews in the desert “forgot” all of their troubles as slaves in Mitzrayim and remembered only the tasty food which they received. This is one explanation which can help us understand the Jews’ seemingly bizarre complaint.
Another justification for Bnei Yisrael’s complaint is that the Jews did not want to receive such amazing physical pleasures. Perhaps, the Jews mistakenly thought that if they relied on such amazing miracles every day of their lives in the Midbar, they would be depleted of merits in Olam HaBa. This idea is expressed by Shlomo HaMelech, who tells us, “HaKol Havel”, “All is vanity” (Kohelet 12:8). The Jews therefore assumed that the miracles which they relied upon would lessen their stake in Olam HaBa. However, the Jews were completely incorrect. A person’s physical pleasures in this world detract from his stake in Olam HaBa only if he misuses them and does not attribute them to Hashem. If a person receives physical benefits in this world and uses them to enhance his Avodat Hashem, then they will not detract from his pleasures in Olam HaBa. Therefore, had the Jews appreciated the miracles which Hashem gave them, they would not have received any punishment or lost out on any reward. However, due to the Jews constant complaining and sinning in the Midbar, their journey was extended to forty years.
Trust in Hashem can be compared to being a passenger in a car. Often times, there are back seat drivers who are not driving, yet think that they must instruct the driver how to drive properly. There are also passengers who let the driver drive, but every now and then will tell the driver to do something better. There are also some passengers who sit back and let the driver drive. Sometimes in life, we have trouble believing that Hashem will lead us on the right path. We must realize that we are Hashem's passengers, as it says in Tehillim, “Hashem Ro’i Lo Echsar”, “Hashem is my shepherd, I will not lack anything” (Tehillim 23:1). Hashem is the best driver anyone can ask for. If we can learn to trust Hashem and realize that He will help us in all of our endeavors and lead us where we need to go, we will experience what it is like to live with the bliss of complete Bitachon in Hashem.