I recently read that following verse in Numbers 11.5, 'Bamidbar': "We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt free of charge, the cucumbers, the watermelons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic" (found on chabad.org) was commented somewhere in Midrash Rabba and construed as an injunction to light candles during Sabbat...

I found this info in Gérard Haddad's Les sources talmudiques de la psychanalyse (Talmudic sources of psychoanalysis), but unfortunately I didn't write down excerpt where this affirmation pops up and therefore cannot render it exactly how it was phrased...

Can somebody confirm me this interpretation (with a quote from Midrash, preferably in English...) ?

In advance, thanks a lot ! Regards, Seb

  • 1
    Seb, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing your question here! Could you please edit in more detail, ideally with a link or precise citation, about where you've seen the claim that this verse is interpreted in Midrash Rabba the way you've suggested? That would make the question a great deal more compelling and answerable.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 15:34
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    Seb, welcome to MY. Please consider registering your account, to enable more site features, including voting. We hope to see more of you around
    – mbloch
    Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 15:53

1 Answer 1


I cannot find this in the Vilna edition of Numbers Rabba. As noted by @Rish, it is mentioned by Hida who says that he heard this was a teaching of Hazal,[i] in his Homat Anakh (Parashat B'ha'alot'kha: 6)

זכרנו את הדגה. מכאן שמדליקין נרות בשבת

We remembered the fish: From here we see that we light candles on Shabbat.

This seems to be an example of the Midrash P'lia genre from the 16th-17th centuries that associated seemingly unrelated laws with verses in the Bible.

Indeed, it is quoted in R. JD Eisenstein's Midrashic collection Volume II page 474 as an example of this genre.

[i] He cites R. Eliezer di Avila as explaining that connection as follows: Thwy said that they missed fish, but the Midrash teaches that the manna tasted like whatever they wanted. If indeed, they nevertheless missed other foods, it must be because appearance matters in regards to food; not just taste. Accordingly, one must light Shabbat candles, so that he will be able to see his food and enjoy it properly.

  • Interestingly, the Chida himself (as quoted in the Wikipedia article מדרש פליאה) was opposed to this type of midrash
    – b a
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 8:14
  • Yeah. Weird. ,@ba
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Dec 7, 2017 at 13:34

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