Looking at the beginning of Chumash Bamidbar we seem to see a very ideal situation where Am Israel is in the desert learning torah, traveling according to G-d’s commandment and all united to do the right thing. It is just after the pssukim of “Vayehi binsoa haaron” that we witness a horrifying downfall. Am yisrael begin to complain, they want more food and in a sudden reaction Moshe tells Hashem that he can not stay as a leader with such a nation.. Moshe does not seem like a teacher that his best student just failed a test but rather as a teacher who already gave up hope. How is it that after such a beautiful beginning of Chumash Bamidbar Moshe acts like Am Yisrael – his students – are so bad. If it only a single downfall, where does this reaction come from?
The gemara in Shabbat (115b) explains that just before the pssukim of Vayehi Binsoa Haaron there is also a problem. The passuk says “and they went from the mountain of G-d and G-d’s ark is going in front of them a distance of three days to find them a place to rest”. Our sages learn this passuk that Am Yisrael didn’t just leave Har Sinai because they had to go. They left “as young kids who run away from school” they did not want to stay longer in Har Sinai because they didn’t want to learn Torah anymore. We can even add that they left the Torah (resembled in Har Sinai) in their search for a place to rest. This has to be the root of the problems that we will meet later. Am Yisrael felt that there is a dissonance between two ideals. There is the torah resembled in Har Sinai (The Maharsh”a points that this is the only time that Har Sinai is called G-d’s mountain meaning that they didn’t juts leave the mountain but rather leave the G-d and the torah that was given at this mountain) and there is Eretz Yisrael that is the place for rest.
It seems that the Torah conveys a very deep message in these pssukim. If one is to think that he can go to Eretz Yisrael and to see it only as a place of rest – a nicer place to live as a Jew – he must understand that he will find himself complaining very quickly. The only way to start the long journey to Eretz Yisrael is if you go with Har Sinai and you do not leave it. Eretz Yisrael is not given to Am Yisrael in order that he will be able to be just like any other nation. If a Jew does not understand that the freedom that he is granted by G-d is in order to do good and in order to do the tikkun olam that we believe in he will not be able to stand all the problems that he will face. It is only when we understand that this is also the role that Am Yisrael has in Eretz Yisrael and only when we understand that the building of Eretz Yisrael has to be together with the message of Har Sinai we can be part of our nation’s journey without having the long way stopping us and making us complain.