Behaalotcha: Learning from Desire

The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat.  -Napoleon Hill 

Desire can be strong. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, blocking out all other needs or even reason. One might think that the desire for something with a negative consequence would be bad. However, the Sfat Emet on the Torah reading of Behaalotcha in 5633 (1873) indicates otherwise. There is a world of a difference between wanting to do something wrong and actually doing something wrong.

For example, eating pork is prohibited by the Torah and therefore undertaking such an action is bad. However, the desire itself is not bad and may be part of natural and understandable cravings. Our humanity imposes itself by the discipline of controlling our desires.

The Sfat Emet states that all desires are good and that we must learn from these powerful desires how to serve God. When one sees the burning desires of others for things that are bad, it’s an example of the passion with which we must seek to perform God’s will. When we pursue God’s Word and commands with burning desire, with unquenchable passion, using the understanding of negative desires in the world, we actually elevate all of those desires to the service of God.

May all of our desires be harnessed for positive and divine pursuits.

Shabbat Shalom,



To the Alexander Muss High School in Israel. An exciting and successful program for overseas students.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay and a candidate for the Knesset for the Zehut party. He is the author of three books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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