Avidan Freedman

64/929 When Jews Complain

Jews complain. It’s understandable. Our lot in life has often been hard, and the choices we’re forced to make, impossible. A favorite game of ours is to look to our leaders to take responsibility and make those choices for us, but with our 20-20 hindsight, to criticize the path they took, because the very definition of an impossible choice is that it will means a sacrifice, and thus always room for criticism. It’s a game we’re very good at it; we’ve been playing for a long time.

“Who wanted to leave Egypt? You think that was bad? This is awful!” The path not taken, sparkling with the pristineness reserved for the theoretical world, will always beat the muddy roads of reality. So we complain.

The answer, for some, is to fantasize about replacing the nation with a better behaved one. Take Egypt for example. There you have a nation who has suffered terribly under its leader. But at the moment of crisis, when Pharaoh readies his own chariot and calls to his nation, their overwhelming unity defies grammatical norms, and Egypt, in the singular, moves “with one heart.” Moshe tries a similar tactic, rallying the nation around God’s imminent salvation which demands nothing of them more than to enjoy the might of their leader.

God’s answer to Moshe: That’s not how things work with these Jews. Yes, I will fight for them, but even when they’re all looking at the same realities (“and Israel saw…and Israel saw” in the singular), their reactions will always be varied and individual (“and Israel feared and Israel believed”- in plural). So in order for them to believe, I need to move the angel who has been leading them to the back of the camp, and they need to make the choice themselves, to take responsibility for their own fate and to vote with their feet.

And if you think that will stop the Jews from complaining, apparently you haven’t read chapter 15. Or the news.


This is my own little insight about the 929 chapter of the day, in 300 words or so. Chapter 14 was Wednesday. I blame elections. I’d love to hear your comments and start a conversation

What’s 929? A near-impossible challenge of consistency. A song of Jewish unity. A beautiful project worth checking out. Learn more at

About the Author
Avidan Freedman is the co-founder and director of Yanshoof (, an organization dedicated to stopping Israeli arms sales to human rights violators, and an educator at the Shalom Hartman Institute's high school and post-high school programs. He lives in Efrat with his wife Devorah and their 5 children.