Shema Yisrael Home

              Fish&Soup.jpg - 12464 Bytes Subscribe

   by Jacob Solomon

This Week's Parsha | Previous issues | Welcome - Please Read!


The parasha tells the story of the Israelites' grumbling about their provisions soon after leaving Mount Sinai:

The rabble population amongst the Israelites cultivated a craving… "Who will give us meat? We remember the fish we ate in Egypt - free… Now our life is dry; only manna." But the manna was like coriander seed… (11:4-7), and its taste was like wafers made with honey (Ex. 16:31)

"Who will give us meat?" is the text, what the people actually said.

"How much can we get out of him?" is the subtext, as the Sforno explains. They were testing Moses to see how far they could go. They were 'trying it on'. Moses read that subtext correctly. It was a lot more about Moses than about meat, the craving notwithstanding. They were suspicious of Moses, even though he had already done a lot for them.

Thus Moses saw the situation as a complete breakdown in his leadership of the people. Children may disagree with parents, but they accept and feel that their parents love them and want to help them however great the differences. In contrast, Moses saw that his 'children': "Didn't I conceive this people… that You told me to carry them" (11:12), did not trust him at all. The vibe of the grumbles conveyed that his people completely rejected him.

Thus Moses turned to G-d with "…I cannot carry this entire nation alone; it is too heavy for me… kill me now, and do not let me face my own ruin" (11:14-15). As the Sforno interprets, put me out of the way so that suitable leaders may take over. In support, the Sforno cites Samuel dying before his time so that the monarchy of the House of David might be established (Ta'anit 5b).

Observe that though the Israelites communicated rejection, Moses did not reject the Israelites. He accepted that his being rejected was the reality.

But he did not reject his people. He even put the Israelites' need for effective leadership before his own life.

Indeed "Moses was the humblest of all people" (12:3). He was able to accept that his current relationship with the Israelites was not working out, at least at that moment.

There are instances where parents have sensed themselves in similar situations. They have been giving their children the very best of what they have, with great love and self-sacrifice. Yet their own children turned against them. The Chofetz Chaim indeed uses this passage to emphasize that parents should continue to work for their children's best interests however difficult they may be.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


Shema Yisrael Home

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael
Classes, send mail to

Jerusalem, Israel