April 10, 2024
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To Complain and Still Be Able to Sing

How many complaints can we have in one Parsha? In Parshat Beshalach, Bnei Yisrael complained a lot. They complained after Hashem sent the 10 plagues upon Egypt. They complained a little while after Hashem split the sea. They complained after receiving manna as food. Despite all of their complaining, they also took time to praise Hashem and sing to Him after the splitting of the sea. How can something so beautiful, a song, come from people who seem to be ungrateful and unappreciative?

I recently heard a story about a hardly religious man who went to a synagogue on Yom Kippur. He observed Yom Kippur but was quite secular, not keeping Shabbat or kashrut, and not praying daily. A religious man who recognized this approached the rebbe and inquired, “How can we allow him to come here on Yom Kippur when he is going to return to his true self when Yom Kippur ends?” The rebbe responded that Yom Kippur is the only day that the man is his true self, and that the other days of the year the man is masking his true identity.

This was Bnei Yisrael back then, and it is also us now. The times we seek out Hashem, praise Him, and invite Hashem into our lives are our true selves. We are dressing up when we are complaining, pushing Hashem away, and engaging in inappropriate behavior. We may act in this way for a variety of reasons—fear of other people, a desire to avoid obligations, but we must never forget our true selves. May we realize our true selves when we act righteously and close to Hashem. May we be our true selves more than not, and strive to help everyone recognize who they truly are.


Shira Sedek is a passionate educator currently working toward a master’s degree at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

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