> Weekly Torah Portion > Beginner > Brainstorming with Baars

The Best Things In Life Are Never Free

Be'halot'cha (Numbers 8-12 )

by Rabbi Stephen Baars

As they say in Hollywood, "You just can't make this stuff up."

There are some things in the Torah that could not have been written unless they actually happened.

After seeing water stand on end at the Red Sea, receiving the Torah and witnessing a multitude of miracles, the Jewish people post this complaint:

"We remember the fish we ate in Egypt for free, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic." (Numbers 11:5).

Don't get me wrong, I like fish as much as the next guy, fresh cod or mahi mahi can make my day, but give me a break, onions! That's what you call me in here for?

As much as I really don't want to do this, it's really worse than it sounds. The Jews were slaves in Egypt for crying out loud, free fish? You've got to be kidding me.

I am.

Rashi, the medieval commentator, points out there is no way they got free fish. Egypt wasn't a cruise ship vacation, so for sure they had to pay for it. Not only that, but what is it with the cucumbers?

The truth is, it's really worse than even that. While in the desert the Jewish people had a miraculous food called Manna. It fell from the sky every day and it tasted of whatever you wanted to think of.


Well, not everything. There were five things it didn't taste of.

Yes, you've guessed it, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.

What about fish?

Nope, the Manna even tasted like fish, it just wasn't free.

You mean to tell me, that this Manna was like walking into a restaurant and everything was on the house except a few incidentals, and that's what they are complaining about?

You've got it.

Your right, you can't make this stuff up.

So, why couldn't it taste like leeks?

Rashi explains these five vegetables are difficult for nursing mothers.

Ok, last question, if the Manna fish wasn't free, how much did it cost?

More than they were willing to pay.

The best things in life are never free.

Let me explain. Imagine this, you just got a text that you have won the grand lottery, $250 million.

Take a minute and ask yourself, how do you feel?

I don't care what is going on, who burnt the dinner, what your boss did or your kids ruined, you are now having one of the best moments of your life.

What changed?


"What do you mean nothing, I can quit my job, buy the Lamborghini I've always wanted, and move to the beach."

Yes, but that's tomorrow.

Right this minute, now, nothing has changed, and yet you probably feel better than you have ever felt. No matter what is going on today, no matter what you were complaining about, if you found out you won $250 million you are having a great day.

How we think about tomorrow changes how we feel right now, no matter what kind of day we're having.

In other words, nothing will ruin your day if you are willing to pay the price of thinking that tomorrow will be incredible.

"But what if it isn't?"

That is not the point, this is: when you think that $250m will better your life, then you will have a great day today. Not just a nice day, not even a very good day. If you knew you won the lottery you would have an absolutely incredible, over the top, amazing day. With all the same problems and all the same issues. And what's more, it will cost you nothing.

Except one thing.


Oscar Wilde famously said, "There are two problems with life, sometimes you don't get what you want, and sometimes you do."

The most unhappy people I have to work with are the ones that got what they wanted in life. The other people are unhappy too, just not as bad, because they think there is a reason they are unhappy. The ones who got what they wanted don't know why it isn't helping.

Some people need to get what they want to realize it won't make them happy, and some people are willing to think.

If you thought that something tomorrow was going to solve all your problems, and thinking that would make you happy now, it means that your mind controls your happiness - now!

And that thing won't do you any good - because it isn't making you happy, your thinking is.

Therefore, you can have the best life possible if you are willing to think.

If you thought that this Manna fish was the most incredible tasting fish any human being had ever tasted, beyond anything ever, then what a great meal that would be. That's what the Manna fish required.

And if you didn't think, then that's what it would taste like too.

If you wake up tomorrow truly expecting your day to be the best day ever, then you know what? It will be a great day.

Can you do that?

For sure, you have done that many times. I calling it, going to Disney for the first time, kinda day. But you have to think, and most people would rather let someone else think for them, so they just turn on the T.V.

That's why they wanted to go back to Egypt where they didn't need to think, because thinking is the most expensive cost there is. And relative to thinking, slavery is a bargain.

And I am not making this up.


Leave a Reply

1 2 3 2,914

🤯 ⇐ That's you after reading our weekly email.

Our weekly email is chock full of interesting and relevant insights into Jewish history, food, philosophy, current events, holidays and more.
Sign up now. Impress your friends with how much you know.
We will never share your email address and you can unsubscribe in a single click.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram