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To learn from our mistakes and continue on our journey

סיפורים על נפילות בתורה

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

It’s not pleasant to read passages in this week’s Torah portion that describe problematic behavior on the part of our people. The same generation that leaves Egypt and receives the Torah at Mount Sinai forgets its many blessings and searches for a reason to complain. Despite many miracles and daily manna from heaven whose taste is whatever they wish it to be, the people are seized by a craving for meat and a desire to return to Egypt.

Why not erase such uncomplimentary parts of the Torah? Why not do a “makeover” of these unfortunate events? Our commentators explain that it is forbidden to minimize their importance. Passages about our transgressions are part of the holy Torah and it is crucial to linger over them and learn the lessons that they teach.

Their message for us is clear: In all of our lives, there are mistakes and failures, both on a personal and a national level. Before Simchat Torah and since, there have been tragic examples of such failures. But instead of erasing the past, our mistakes and our sins can be made into “Torah,” a word that means instruction. In other words, we can learn from our errors and see them as warning signs that can direct and guide us as we go forward into a brighter future.

And so just as the nation, after egregious mistakes, continues on its journey through the desert, may we continue on our journey too. Behatzlacha.


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