Parshas Beha’aloscha describes an episode in which the Jewish People begin to complain in the Midbar. Hashem responded by giving Moshe the Seventy Elders to help lead Klal Yisroel.
Why were the Jewish people complaining, and what is the significance of the number seventy, representative of the Seventy Elders, to deal with their complaining?
Rav Yonah Sklare explains that they complained because they felt stifled and constrained in their covenant with Hashem. They felt the intensity of it was too much for them to deal with. Hence, Hashem gave them the Seventy Elders. Seventy is the number that symbolizes individuality. There are seventy diverse nations and languages. There are seventy approaches to Torah.
Hashem was telling Klal Yisroel that the way out of feeling constrained is by finding a specific path of the Torah where you can express your individuality. He was saying, ‘Choose a specific Rav from amongst the Seventy Elders that you would like to develop a close relationship with and emulate’.
The lesson is clear: we must keep the Halacha even if some of the Halachos are difficult, but the way out of feeling constrained is to express our individuality in our Torah life; be it through a special relationship with a specific Rav or mentor, a specific approach to Torah learning that speaks more to us personally, or a specific Mitzva that we would like to excel in.[Editor’s note: Perhaps another lesson that can be gleaned from here is the concept of accepting Jews from other backgrounds. We have to realize that just as among the Goyim there are seventy nations so too in regards to the Jewish People there are 12 Tribes each with their own special way of serving Hashem. Each person has a unique style in how he serves Hashem. If we come to this recognition, then that will bring Moshiach much closer, and we will merit to greet Moshiach in our days.]