Certain Biblical paragraphs are stated in a Theme-Development form.
In other words a broad general idea is stated first followed by the development
of this broad general theme in specific details.
The Theme-Detail form creates a unified paragraph and
consequently the law or narrative statement only applies to the enumerated details but
not to other cases.
Today's example illustrates
this as shown below.
the complaints of the Jews in the wilderness
The general clause states
that they instigated a strong craving
and could mean
The detail clause provides specificity to the general
clause and describes how it should be interpreted:
They asked for meat even though they had plenty of meat.
And the mixed multitude that was among them had instigated a strong craving,....
and said, Who shall give us meat to eat?...We remember the fish, which we ate in Egypt...
Advanced Rashi: Rashi actually states They simply fabricated claims; for example
even though they left Egypt with alot of cattle (Ex12-38) and even though when they entered Israel they had
alot of cattle (Nu32-01) they fabricated and said who will give us meat.
Rashi appears to be using the contradiction method since the verses stating that the Jews had
cattle contradicts their statement who will give us meat? However the preceding verse also says
They fabricated desires. The verb for desire is in the Hitpael mode. There is a 4 way controversy
on what the hitpael mode is used for. In this email list we have adopted the position that hitpael
means interactive. The statement they interactively desired could be interpreted to mean they fabricated desire,
that is they interacted with whomever they were talking; even if they had what to eat they claimed they had desires.
On a psychological level we need not interpret this maliciously. We can interpret this in terms of standard
paranoia of slaves. The slave may have everything (s)he needs but because of lack of ownership the slave
paranoically worries that they may be lacking. Such a paranoic worry leads to fabricating desires that are not there:
I need more meat because tomorrow I may not have.
The exploration of the paranoic feelings of the Jews who left Egypt is a well known psychological theme and is used
to explain certain tragedies and sins that happened in the desert.