The Blessing of What We Have
Yael Eckstein | June 10, 2020
“We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” — Numbers 11:5-6
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Behaalotecha, which means “when you raise up,” from Numbers 8:1–12:16.
For my eldest daughter’s 13th birthday, I didn’t give her an expensive present wrapped in a box with a fancy bow. This wasn’t because I couldn’t get her a nice gift, or because I don’t want her to have nice things, but because even she recognized that she truly didn’t need anything. Instead, I gave my daughter the gift of a mother-daughter day at the beach — and that present was one that both she and I will cherish forever.
We live in extraordinarily abundant times, and yet so many children and adults constantly feel that they are lacking. We are constantly bombarded by advertisements designed to point out what we don’t have and make us crave things that we didn’t even know we lacked. The irony is that when we focus on what we are missing even when we have a lot, we constantly feel lacking and miss out on our numerous blessings.
In this week’s Torah reading, we learn that the Israelites complained about the manna, the miraculous food that sustained them in the desert. According to Jewish teachings, manna could taste like anything a person wanted it to taste like — except for three things: leeks, onions, and garlic, because those things could be too strong-tasting for pregnant or nursing mothers.
The other limitation of the manna was that no matter its taste, it always looked the same. For all the miracles that God created in the desert, the people complained because they focused on what they lacked instead of all that they had.
In the Jewish oral tradition, we find the following teaching: “Who is rich? He who enjoys what he has.” If we focus on what we lack, we will always feel poor. But when we concentrate on what we do have, we can always feel abundantly blessed.
It’s time to train our minds to focus on our blessings instead of what we might be lacking. In that way, we will take pleasure in all that we do have and experience greater joy in all aspects of our lives.
Your turn: What blessings do you have in your life that you can focus on and enjoy today?