In Parashat Bealotchah, when the people asked for meat Moses' reaction went eccentric (Num. 11:10):

מֵאַיִן לִי בָּשָׂר לָתֵת לְכָל־הָעָם הַזֶּה כִּי־יִבְכּוּ עָלַי לֵאמֹר תְּנָה־לָּנוּ בָשָׂר וְנֹאכֵלָה׃
לֹא־אוּכַל אָנֹכִי לְבַדִּי לָשֵׂאת אֶת־כָּל־הָעָם הַזֶּה כִּי כָבֵד מִמֶּנִּי׃
וְאִם־כָּכָה אַתְּ־עֹשֶׂה לִּי הָרְגֵנִי נָא הָרֹג אִם־מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ וְאַל־אֶרְאֶה בְּרָעָתִי

Where am I to get meat to give to all these people, when they whine before me and say, ‘Give us meat to eat!’
I cannot carry all these people by myself, for it is too much for me.
If You would deal thus with me, kill me rather, I beg You, and let me see no more of my wretchedness!”

Moses went through a lot of experiences with the Jewish people, in Egypt and beyond, inc. the Golden Calf. Here, the demand was, seemingly, simple - "ask G-d for some beef". Instead, he took it much personal (מֵאַיִן לִי בָּשָׂר לָתֵת) to the point he offers to be killed.

Previously he offered a similar solution to save the nation (מחני נא מספרך) but here I don't see how this solution will help the people here.

What made Moses so infuriated to the point of wanting to be killed?


3 Answers 3


Rav Hirsch says that Moshe Rabbeinu felt that the people were demanding something of him (and not Hashem) that they knew that he could not give them. It was something that they were demanding to be given in a natural and not miraculous manner. In his eyes, this shows that they knew that he was unqualified to be their leader, as he had argued at the very beginning.

They know quite well that they are demanding something from me which is quite beyond my power to give them. An as, having the completely sufficing and satisfying food in the manna, what they are asking for is something dispensable and superfluous. Their demand is nothing plaguing tormenting of the man in whom they see the leader of their fate. And had he been the right man he would long ago have won their love and respect which would never have allowed such vexatious desires to arise.

Just because the demand was for something quite dispensable and superfluous neither Moses nor the people could expect that Hashem would grant it in some miraculous manner.

Rav Hirsch continues in verse 14:

I cannot carry out the task You set me all by myself. I have not sufficient influence on the people and not the ability to acquire it. For this task I am only one half of the right man. I can receive Your Torah and transmit it and teach it, but I cannot form a nation for this Torah for You. I cannot exercise the educative and formative mastery over the minds and feelings of the people which would lead them to such a goal. (cf. EX III,11).

Now that this has been proven and the Torah has been given, my task should be regarded as complete and You should replace me with the person who can carry out the rest of the task successfully.

  • Thank you for your effort. I have a real problem understanding R"H's logic, that only covers a specific line, not addressing tens of other phenomena in the Torah. Do you really understand his claims to be able to discuss it with me, or you just quote it here?
    – Al Berko
    Jun 16, 2019 at 11:51
  • 1
    @AlBerko Your question was at a specific pasuk. He was saying that it would require his death in order for a successor to be appointed. There is a principle that only one melech can be in charge at one time. Thus, it would require his death for the next king to be appointed in his place. Jun 16, 2019 at 13:02

R'Immanuel Bernstien asks your question in a beautiful dvar torah over here

I will quote a part of his answer:

The Talmud informs us that manna fell in the merit of Moshe Rabbeinu...

He says that that means that the jewish peoples food was in sync with Moshe's spiritual level. If the jews would eat slav instead of manna, then it

would require that he experience a spiritual decline or demotion and become more physical himself...Moshe was stating that he would rather leave the world on the spiritual level he had attained than remain and suffer a lowering of that level


Perhaps it was the straw that broke the camel's back.

  • 1
    Yes, perhaps +1
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Jul 16, 2019 at 4:54

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