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Parshat Shelach: Stop the Blame-Game

by Chaya Rivka Zwolinski

The entire community raised their voices and shouted, and the people wept on that night. All the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the entire congregation said, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this desert. Why does the Lord bring us to this land to fall by the sword; our wives and children will be as spoils. Is it not better for us to return to Egypt? They said to each other, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt!” Numbers 14:1-4

In Parsha Shelach, after hearing the report of the meraglim (the spies), the Jews complained to Moshe Rabbeinu and Aaron, saying If only we had died in Egypt.”

They were miserable. Things weren’t going the way they wanted them to go. So what did they do? What people have been doing since time immemorial—they played the blame game. They took it out on Moshe and Aaron. They spoke openly against these two great, humble men who led them out of Egypt. They stirred up machloket, conflict.

Reb Noson, teaches us that conflict is, and always has been the bane of our existence as Jews. We forget about the good. We complain. We whine. We stress. We stress others. We punish them with our anger, we punish them with the silent-treatment. We’re so busy pointing out the bad—in others, in our situation—that we overlook the clues to our own salvation. Our sages say that ridding ourselves of sinat chinam* and instead, trusting in Hashem, is the key to reliving our situation.

Rebbe Nachman tells us that we have a lot more power over our thoughts and feelings than we think we do. We don’t have to give into the urge to rage, blame and give in to despair.  How?

Slow down and pay attention to the times habitual negative thoughts, especially those that lead to conflict, arise. Replace those negative thoughts with positive thoughts: The other person in this situation meant well. I don’t have the whole picture. Nothing is worth getting embroiled in a conflict or controversy.  Have faith only in Hashem, only trust in Hashem and rely on Him.

Make hitbodedut about the conflicts in your life. Ask Hashem to help you truly destroy sinat chinam and fill your heart with ahavat Yisrael.

May you have a day of peace and freedom from strife.

*Sinat chinam, baseless hatred. What kind of hatred falls into the category of sinat chinam? Nearly every instance of hating other Jews is considered baseless. Why hate? Why not see the good and trust in Hashem.

For more Breslov inspiration on Parshat Shelach: Azamra for Grasshoppers

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