Blog Post


Parsha Beha’lotcha: How To Deal With Haters

Do you have any detractors? Are there people walking this earth who just don’t like you? And for no apparent reason? People who complain and kvetch about you?

If you’re like most, you probably have these sort of people in your life. The type that, no matter what you do, they find fault. They ooze negativity at you. Or even worse, they might try to actively undermine and cause you pain. Emotional, financial and otherwise. They seem to forever be a thorn in your side and a pain in your rear.

So what do we do? How do we deal with such folks who seep into our lives and whom we cannot rid ourselves of, much like the mosquito that buzzes in your ear and keeps you up at night? I have written before about toxic people and I suggest you dig up that piece in your email folder. But in addition to that, this week’s Torah portion offers us a bit of a salve for these painful people. When you look into the events that transpire in the parsha, I am confident that you will gain some comfort from them when dealing with difficult people.

In the first half of the parsha, the Torah continues with the details of the regimented set-up in the desert encampment according to tribal affiliation. It’s all very organized and precise as to where everyone is supposed to be. Each tribe is neatly situated in a square-like formation around the Mishkan/Tabernacle.

But soon after the Israelites were given their marching orders, all hell breaks loose. They begin to vehemently complain to and against Moshe. First about nothing in particular – as the Torah states, “The nation was looking for a pretext to complain within earshot of God” (Num. 11:1). Complaining for the sake of complaining. Then later on about how boring their food, the Manna, was. They make the ridiculous claim of missing the wonderful delicacies of Egypt, as if slaves were served four-course meals. They bemoan this Manna slop. 

This takes such a toll on Moshe that, completely exasperated, he turns to God, and asks that he not go on. “Where am I to get meat to give to this whole nation when they whine before me and say, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry this entire nation all by myself, for it is too much for me. If this is how You are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me right now and do not let me face my own ruin!” (Num. 11:13ff)

Yikes! The pressure gets to Moshe so much that he is asking God to die! Talk about being pushed to the brink. By the way, this is not the only time Moshe was challenged. It happens on a number of other occasions when they travelled during the 40 years. 

So here we have it folks. If Moshe – the greatest prophet of all time, the greatest miracle worker of all time, the greatest redeemer of a slave nation of all time – if even Moshe has his detractors and critics grumbling, whining and complaining and thereby making his life miserable to the point where he wants to bail, then where does that leave you and me?

And herein lies the silver lining. Because if someone like Moshe has his enemies who make his life miserable, then if you too have your enemies making your life miserable – guess what – you’re in good company! If the great Moshe couldn’t make everyone happy, then you shouldn’t feel compelled to make everyone happy either! How am I supposed to pull off something that even the great Moshe wasn’t able to?

Isn’t that great news? Now you don’t have to lose any sleep because someone doesn’t like or approve of you. Just accept this is as a simple fact of life and keep telling yourself, “If Moshe couldn’t make everyone happy, then neither can I.”

I have pointed out before that it’s best to avoid these type of haters altogether since they drain too much energy and suck the life out of us. And to this end I suggest you say this prayer every day that appears early in our daily morning prayer service:

May it be Your will, my God and the God of my forefathers, that You spare me today – and every day – from brazen and shameless people. From a bad person, a bad associate and a bad neighbour… from a difficult trial and a harsh litigant – whether he (or she) be Jewish or not.

Yes, we ask God to please keep these people far, far away from us. But in the event that you do find yourself within proximity of these miserable type, take solace in the fact that you will never make them happy. Moshe couldn’t and neither will you. So don’t lose sleep over it.


But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop grooving
It’s like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, “It’s gonna be alright”
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
-Taylor Swift

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