The journey from Mt Sinai through the wilderness begins in earnest with this week's Torah portion, B'ha'alotecha. Let the complaining begin!
The Israelites challenge G-d and Moses by asking, in effect, "Is this all there is?" Yes, even after the deliverance from Egypt and even after receiving Torah at Mt Sinai and even with manna falling from heaven, the people complain. What do they want? The variety of food they had in Egypt. One might respond, "Really, Israel?"
The "mixed multitude" -- likely, outsiders -- initiate the complaining, but it quickly spreads. By the end of the Torah portion, the complaining comes from the very heart of Israel as Miriam and Aaron themselves publicly challenge Moses's status as leader of Israel.
This is the nature of complaining. It might begin at the periphery, but, if left unresolved, it becomes habitual and defines who we are. Complaining, like everything else, has momentum. The more you do it, the more you will do it.
It would be wise for us all to stem our complaining at the outset. Instead of focusing on what we lack, focus on what we have. And instead of allowing complaining words to slip out, let's express words of gratitude instead.
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill