Friday, June 8, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude; Parshas Bahaaloscha

There is a variety of topics discussed in the Parsha this week, but we'll speak about just one.
The Jews are still traveling in the desert- it can take us about 40 years to finish that topic... but while they were there, we see in the p'sukim that they complained again and again about the difficulties of being there. At this point, they had problems with the menu. Needless to say, G-d was rightfully upset at them. I mean, think about it, here was a group of people who had been enslaved, and were just released to freedom. They had been through endless open miracles. They were literally being carried in Hashem's hands. And all they do is complain? What a chutzpah!
But, the truth is, we learn an incredible life lesson from these people.
G-d created us in a fascinating way. Our minds naturally focus on what we're lacking. Without any effort, they just flip to the negative side and notice the things we don't have. The only way to focus on the good things we have and on the positive, it to make a conscious effort for our minds to go there.
Even though the Jews were given  every single thing they needed, plus tax, they were still not able to notice that. They didnt feel the love. They didnt respond with happiness. Instead of filling up their minds with focus on the goodness, they left them empty to roam the negative pastures.
When Hashem noticed that nothing He can do will make them happy, that's when He got upset. No matter how much goodness was bestowed upon them; no matter how much blessing they got, they still never maintained a level of happiness and gratitude for more than a day.
I know a woman who has a really blessed life. She and her husband are each healthy, nice looking, well liked, and have stable, high income jobs. They have 3 beautiful, healthy, successful children, all happily married to wonderful people. We would expect this woman to be ecstatic with what life had offered her. She should be jumping for joy while counting her blessings. But, no. This lucky woman is easily upset, sad, short tempered and just miserable more often than not. Once, a mutual friend questioned her about why she was so distraught on a particular day. Her answer was (there should really be a powerful adjective here but it's not coming to mind... so we'll settle for) astonishing. You know what was making her life so unbearably miserable? She was in the process of redoing her home, and she had shlepped around all over the neighborhood to find bathroom faucets that matched perfectly with the toilet and counters, and she just couldn't find any. Poor poor lady.
Try to imagine spending hours, and even days, cooking a delicious meal for very special company. You spend a lot of time researching their favorite dishes, and then you make all 12 favorites. You put your heart and soul into it. They arrive and eat eat their hearts out. Ahhh, what nachas. You sit back watching them enjoy your luscious work. Imagine, if the next day, one of them calls you up and tells you that "the food was very good, thanx, but you forgot to serve mousse. You know how much I looooove mousse". 
How unappreciative could someone be? Is it possible to ever make a person like this happy? I dunno about you, but I wouldn't be running to invite these people again too quickly.
In order to fully appreciate the good things that G-d has given us, we need to take out the time to focus on them. That's the first step toward happiness and inner peace. And, obviously, the opposite is true, too. Failing to notice the blessings, and allowing our minds to navigate toward our lackings will result in tension and unhappiness.
"Some people are so poor, that all they have is money".
Have a great shabbos