This weeks Torah reading in Parsha B’ha’alotkha (Num. 8:1-12:16) which includes an account of the people murmuring for meat in the wilderness and being sent an abundance of quail:
 And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the LORD will give you flesh, and ye shall eat.
 Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days;
 But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?
 And Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month.
 Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?
 And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD’s hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.
(Num. 11:19-23 KJV)
 And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day’s journey on this side, and as it were a day’s journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth.
 And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails: he that gathered least gathered ten homers: and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp.
 And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.
 And he called the name of that place Kibroth-hattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.
Philo of Alexandria brings out an important lesson in this account, writing:
(126) The lawgiver blames some persons of his time as gluttons, and as believing that the mere indulgence of luxury is the happiest of all possible conditions, not being content to live in this manner only in cities in which there were abundant supplies and stores of all kinds of necessary things, but carrying their effeminacy even into pathless and untrodden deserts, and choosing in them also to have markets for fish and meat, and all things which can contribute to an easy life: (127) then, when a scarcity arose, they assembled together and raised an outcry, and looked miserable, and with shameless audacity impeached their ruler, and did not desist from creating disturbances till they obtained what they desired; and they obtained it to their destruction, for two reasons: first of all, that it might be shown that all things are possible to God, who can find a way in the most difficult and apparently hopeless circumstances; and secondly, that punishment might fall on those who were intemperate in their gluttonous appetites, and obstinate resisters of holiness. (128) For a vast cloud being Raised (Ex 16:13.) out of the sea showered down quails about the time of sunrise, and the camp and all the district around it for a day’s journey for a well-girt active man was overshadowed all about with the Birds.(Num 11:31). And the height of the flight of the birds was distant from the ground a height of about two cubits, in order that they might be easily caught. (129) It would have been natural therefore for them, being amazed at the marvellous nature of the prodigy which they beheld, to be satisfied with the sight, and being filled with piety to nourish their souls on that, and to abstain from eating flesh; but these men, on the contrary, stirred up their desires even more than before, and pursued these birds as the greatest good imaginable, and catching hold of them with both their hands filled their bosoms; then, having stored them up in their tents, they sallied forth to catch others, for immoderate covetousness has no limit. And when they had collected every description of food they devoured it insatiably, being about, vain-minded generation that they were, to perish by their own fulness; (130) and indeed at no distant time they did perish by the purging of their bile, (Num. 11:20). so that the place itself derived its name from the calamity which fell upon them, for it was called the graves of their lust, (Num. 11:34): “And he called the name of that place Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people that lusted.”} than which there is not in the soul, as the scripture teaches, us, any greater evil. (131) For which reason Moses says with great beauty in his recommendations, “Let not every man do that which seemeth good to his own Eyes,” (Deut. 11:8.) which is equivalent to saying, let not any one gratify his own desire, but let each person seek to please God, and the world, and nature, and wise men, repudiating self-love, if he would become a good and virtuous man.
(Special Laws IV, 126-131)
Here, once again, the Torah teaches us the value of the virtue of self control, and of subduing our inclinations and desires with our rational mind.
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