Tweet Your Heart Out—It’s easy to be jealous!©
The Internet and social networking sites make it very easy to be jealous. We are living with play-by-play, minute-by-minute updates of peoples’ lives. A friend posts he bought a new car; a colleague tweets she got a promotion; a relative instagrams a picture of his new house. We are bombarded night and day with the success of others and we feel like the incredibly shrinking man as our own worth seems to plunge like the Dow Jones on Black Tuesday. And yet we really are living in a time of plenty where there are 20,000 apps on our cell phones—from simulated sex to global domination. We live in times where we can buy designer items at knock-off prices. We live in times where everyone can be a celebrity on a moronic reality TV show with the open opportunity to become a moron, too. We live in times where the old can be Botoxed, the flat chested can be enhanced, the toothless can have teeth and if all that fails there is still Photoshop to add the perfect touches to our lives. Manna is basically falling from heaven. So, what’s to complain about? What’s to be jealous about? I remember as a young girl when I questioned my mother why other kids had things I couldn’t have, she answered me in Yiddish, “sündigen nicht”—meaning “don’t sin.” Was it really a sin to want what another had? Yes! “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors’ house”—even if it’s just a doll house. But my mother’s intention was not to get all Biblical on me at that young age, she was basically telling me to APPRECIATE what I have and not to cast envious eyes on others. When we truly appreciate what we do have, we come to find that we really aren’t missing anything at all. The Talmud asks: “Who is rich?” The Talmud answers: “The one who is content with his lot.” You see, when you have the gift of appreciation you have everything. And conversely, if you have everything but lack genuine appreciation, then you really have nothing at all. In this week’s Torah portion, we read how the Israelites cried out to Moses because they were fed up with eating manna and wanted meat. They complained so much that they literally drove Moses to such exasperation that he said to God: “Please kill me.” What’s interesting is that the rabbis say that manna was a perfect food--it was completely absorbed by the body producing no human waste. And it also tasted like whatever food one wanted it to taste like. The desert Jews surely did not have the art of appreciation. And today, we too, always feel the grass is greener. The Israelites forgot about the cruelty of their slave drivers and how they cried out to G-d (Exodus 2:23-24). Instead they complained about the manna that sustained them and told Moses, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt for nothing; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic. But now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes..." (Numbers 11:5). They were nostalgic for something that never was—the Egyptians wouldn’t even give them straw never mind melons and fish. And they were ungrateful for what they had: manna falling from heaven. So what was the fate of those ingrates who wanted meat? God gave them so much meat until they became sick of that too and then He smote them and called their burial ground the “Graves of Craving.” The lesson is clear: We, too, must learn to curb our cravings and stop stoking our appetites by looking in everyone else's plate instead of our own. Symbolically, our lives too have the neutral taste of manna. And it is how we season what we’ve been served that makes our lives palatable and sweet or bitterly hard to swallow. Someone once said: “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked G-d for today?” Certainly we would awake to realize all that we have taken for granted. So here is my tweet for the day: "I’m no mathematician, but I know you can’t count two things at the same time. So start counting your blessings and not your complaints, and you will come to realize the great gift your own life adds up too."