Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Baha'aloscha - 5781
In Pareshat Behaalotcha, we find the nation of Israel, just as they left the spiritually lifting atmosphere of Har Sinai, complaining. “If only we had meat to eat!” they cried. "We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” The Torah reminds the future reader of the story that the food they were kvetching about (manna) was “like coriander seed and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil."
It has been noted that being unhappy is not what leads people to complain. Rather, complaining leads people to becoming unhappy. After the great clarity and meaning that the revelation at Sinai gave the people, Hashem expected appreciation from the nation. Unfortunately, grievances took the place of gratitude.
To deal with the issue, Hashem told Moshe to gather 70 elders to bear the burden of the people. These elders, turned prophets, were to inspire the nation to learn to appreciate the good, and not be pulled down by the awful trait of negativity.