Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Beha'alotecha: "Graves of Craving"

"[Moses] called the place "Kivrot HaTa'avah" ["the Graves of the Craving"], since it was in that place that they buried the people who had these cravings" (Num. 11:34).

This name, "Graves of the Craving," seems a bit strange. Should it not be called Kivrot Ha-Mitavim, "Graves of those who craved"?

The Swindler's Downfall

There was once a con-artist who took great pleasure in cheating others and swindling them out of their savings. For many years, he was extraordinarily successful. People were unaware of his true nature and got caught in his scams.

All this changed, however, one day when the swindler got in a fight with his neighbor. Furious, the swindler threatened to ruin the innocent man. In fact, he carried out his threat and caused him significant financial loss.

But the neighbor publicized details of the entire incident, thus revealing the con-man's true nature to all.

The swindler boasted that he had succeeded in carrying out his threat. But his neighbor was not moved. "On the contrary," he responded, "I am satisfied that I succeeded in bringing about your downfall. Now everyone recognizes you for the dangerous shark that you are, and will be much more careful when dealing with you!"

Dangerous Desires

This is why the location was called "Kivrot HaTa'avah," the "Graves of Craving." The harmful influence of Ta'avah, of unbridled desires and wild cravings, was revealed to all. In a sense,  Ta'avah was buried there.

When "They buried the people who had cravings," everyone witnessed the dangerous consequences of such unbridled desires. Now all are aware that one must show great caution when dealing with Ta'avah.

(Adapted from Mishlei Yaakov, pp. 334-335.)