By Laurie Rosenberg
Last week I blogged about kvetching, that uniquely Jewish art of…?
Well, it can’t really be described; moaning doesn’t do justice to it, to winge is too misery laden, it’s something much deeper and visceral and handed down to each successive generation.
So, it’s no surprise that in this week’s sedra, the weekly reading in Shul, we read about the Children of Israel and their collective need to kvetch.
Moses has guided and led them away from servitude in Egypt; God has treated them to a sound and light show like no other. The architects and builders have created a magnificent mobile sanctuary, the Mishkan, and to top it all a beautiful seven branched candelabra of solid gold is going to be lit. In any other circumstances this would be a crowning moment, like switching on the Blackpool Illuminations, but with a deep and meaningful spirituality.
So, did the Children if Israel celebrate?
Well they did a bit, as each tribe gathered around their banners and sang and blew trumpets.
It must have been something to behold. And every time the Mishkan moved on its journey through the desert the tribes would gather around, each to their own station.
And then the kvetching started.
They wanted to go back to Egypt where, at least they were fed with cucumbers, leeks, onions and garlic. Strangely enough these are particularly strong flavours, and maybe it was these they remembered, and not the indigestible bread (later to be remembered as maztot, and still as indigestible) and basic provisions they would have been given. And it just goes to show that we only remember the good stuff!
They kvetch, and Moses likewise kvetches to God for his guidance.
So, the next day, after all the kvetching, the Children of Israel woke up to see the ground covered in some white stuff “what’s that” they kvetched, or in Hebrew “mah-na”!
Hence the manna.
Manna was the perfect food, and it tasted of whatever was desired, and at first the Children of Israel ate and were satisfied, a real Eureka moment, until – yes, the kvetching started again! And this time it was for meat.
And sure enough God, in a show of temper gave them so much in the form of quail that they became ill and, yes, kvetched again: too much!
Somehow there’s no satisfying some people, but maybe there’s a deeper significance to being able to express oneself freely to God, Moses or whoever, and it’s all tied up in the ability to be able, and have the courage and conviction, to express and articulate our feelings.
And surely this is something that has given us the strength and resilience to withstand the trials and tribulations of history, enabling us to thrive, flourish and, of course, kvetch!