Knaidel. K-N-A-I-D-E-L. Knaidel.
By properly spelling this Jewish culinary delight, an Indian-American boy won the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee, beating out hundreds of other contestants.
Jewish bubbies worldwide were kvelling.
Of course, knaidel and kvelling aren’t the only Yiddish/Hebrew words that have made it into our lexicon. Thanks to people like Jerry Seinfeld and Ed Koch, words like kosher, chutzpah, klutz, shmooze, and oy vey have gone mainstream.
Not long after the spelling bee, another Yiddish word came into play:
KVETCH. K-V-E-T-C-H. KVETCH.
Oy vey, indeed.
Sadly, it seems like the Jewish people have been kvetching and complaining for a long time.
In previous weeks’ Torah portions the Jews complained about food and water, in last week’s about the Land of Israel, and in this week’s portion Moshe’s cousin, Korach, complains about having been passed up for a leadership position. In each instance, the results were disastrous for the individuals involved and for the Jewish people as a whole.
The commentaries point out that the fundamental flaw was not the specific complaints that they made, but that they were walking around with an attitude of negativity. Instead of seeing G-d’s love, they looked for the bad, and complained. As the Torah tells us, a complaining attitude is “evil in the ears of G-d” (Numbers 11:1).
The commentaries further point out that a negative attitude is not only wrong, but inevitably saps joy out of life, and causes the downfall of the complainers and all those around them. Even Moshe, who was repeatedly prepared to defend the Jewish people, had no choice but to warn the Jews to stay away from Korach, “lest they perish” along with him (Numbers 16:26).
We all have challenges and bumps along the road of life, giving us many justifications for our kvetching and complaining. But, in reality, it is never justified. Looking at the positive allows us to have a more enjoyable life, an inner calm, and NACHAS from our achievements and the achievements of others.
That’s NACHAS. N-A-C-H-A-S. NACHAS.
Okay, you’re right — maybe it’s NACHES. Or NAKHES. . . but stop complaining, would you??
Rabbi Yitzchok Oratz is the Rabbi and Director of the Monmouth Torah Links community. Shortly after receiving his semicha (rabbinic ordination) from Bais Medrash Govoha, the famed Lakewood Yeshiva, Rabbi Oratz, along with his wife Toby and family, moved to Marlboro, NJ where they co-founded the MTL community in 2001. Aside for his “Devar on the Par” that he writes for MTL, his writings have also been published on Aish, Times of Israel, Seforim Blog, Hakira, and in various Rabbinic journals. Rabbi Oratz looks forward to continuing teaching Torah in a way that is timely and timeless, and sharing meaningful Jewish experiences with the amazing MTL community.