| Parshah |

The Stuff of Satisfaction

Divine blessing shows itself in quality, not quantity


“Moshe raised his hand and hit the rock with his stick twice, and copious water came out, and the congregation and their livestock drank.”

(Bamidbar 20:11)


he episode of drawing water from a rock doesn’t redound to the credit of the Jewish People; it cost Moshe and Aharon their entry ticket into Israel. It seems ironic that the Torah would stress that the less-than-stellar performance all around resulted in a great abundance of water. Were they rewarded for getting it wrong? Shouldn’t Hashem have just provided them with their needs and nothing more? (Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, based on Meshech Chochmah)

Too much stuff. There’s just too much stuff, I walked around the house muttering to myself.

Every so often I get this crowded-can’t-breathe-claustrophobic mood in my own house. While I’m not a minimalist, I need everything to have its place. And since I can’t keep building on to my apartment to accommodate all the stuff, every so often I need to go on a purge to keep my sanity.

I’d just hung up the phone after talking to my sister. My parents’ home had recently been sold. My sister volunteered to pack up over40 years of accumulated stuff before turning the house over to the new owners. She doesn’t share my clutter claustrophobia and was trying to convince me that I couldn’t live without certain items.

“What about your fifth-grade state report? Your veil? Your sticker album?”

Hmm. The sticker album was temping. Shloime has quite a collection going.

“Nothing, I don’t want anything!” I insisted.

“You’re going to change your mind,” she said with the annoying confidence only a younger sister can possess. “I’m going to put them in my house and you’ll see the next time you come.”

“I’m not going to pay for another suitcase just to schlep them home! Do me a favor and throw them out.”

We’re distracted from the truth by a common misconception, which looks at “more” as “better.” In fact, Divine blessing shows itself in quality, not quantity.
The mahn, coming as it were directly from the Hand of Hashem, satiated in small quantities. Furthermore, it was a spiritual food that was responsive to the spiritual accomplishment of each individual, both in the ease or difficulty of its collection and of its preparation.
Had Moshe and Aharon not departed from their Divine instructions, the people would have received miraculous water that behaved like the mahn, with which quantity simply didn’t matter. An uncharacteristically small amount would have sufficed to satisfy all their desire for water.

Why couldn’t memories reside in the brain? There are so many other things clogging it up, I’d love for warm fuzzy memories to take precedence.

I had no idea what to do with the sweaters my mother-in-law knitted for my husband when he was two, or for the security blankets my daughters schlepped around at that same age but don’t want in their own homes now.

I certainly don’t know what to do with the boxes in my sister’s basement waiting for me to realize I’ve been missing them for the last two decades.

It’s interesting to note that this blessing, however, would only have been available for people. Animals would have required large amounts to satisfy their physiological needs. Thus, the original plan was that the animals would be fed an abundance of water, while people would enjoy the superior blessing of satisfaction through just a small amount. Alas, this did not happen. Moshe and Aharon departed ever-so-slightly from the script; the people did not have a chance to observe a kiddush Hashem of the highest order. The water miracle was therefore downgraded. It was “much water” that came forth. To the observers who did not even realize that they had passed up something much better, quantity did mean a great deal. Furthermore, “the assembly and their animals drank,” both together, both responding to the physical properties of the water, while missing the boost that the people could have received from the water’s spirituality.

This past Shabbos we were blessed to have our entire family around the table. There were baby carriages against the dining room wall and hats piled up in the closet. Seforim were randomly stacked and pacifiers dangled from doorknobs.

And suddenly, I realized I did know the place for all those items of my past. It was time to toss them. They needed to make way for the present and future.

I have so much good from Hashem cluttering my home right now, I’m satisfied with keeping the rest to a bare minimum.


 (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 800)

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