The Emptiness of Physical Cravings


The Emptiness of Physical Cravings

April 16, 2018
Orit Esther Riter
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At one point in the Torah Moshe Rabbeinu bitterly complains to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and states, “… Did I give birth to them (Ahm Yisrael), that You say to me, ‘Carry them (Ahm Yisrael) in your bosom as the nurse (oman) carries the suckling. From where have I meat to give to this entire nation?” (Bamidbar 11:12). The root word of oman is the same as for emuna.

Just as the mother’s milk is vital in the growth of her infant, so too does emuna play an exceptionally important role in the life of a Jew. The newborn needs to be nurtured and tended to constantly in order to develop into a healthy individual. Similarly, the Jewish soul must be supported through thoughts, words and acts of emuna to vitalize the body with strength to live and assist the soul to fulfill its mission.

However in the above described incident Moshe feels that he can no longer care for the Jewish people and nurture their emuna. Why did he meet ‘ends rope’ when he was asked to provide meat for Ahm Yisrael? After all this wasn’t the first time he was pressed with complaints from them.

This instance though was different since it depicted a nation who simply wished for meat to satisfy their physical cravings and not for existential purposes. This imparts a serious problem since here Ahm Yisrael pursued their material lusts severed from spiritual intent. A person can never completely gratify his bodily desires as taught in Kohelet, “A man does not die having fulfilled half of his lusts.” One lust leads to another one and so forth to no end.

We learn an essential lesson from this – emuna cannot be cultivated if we overexert ourselves in material pursuits. The drive for constant material gain is persistently met with dissatisfaction and complaints; a fortress barrier that prevents emuna from growing. A person who walks around frustrated at not being able to fulfill all they want will not be able to live with emuna.

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