Complaint l'shem Shomayim
"Good, I'm patur! But how can I miss out on a mitzvah?"
Their attitude was that missing a mitzvah is a deprivation. It is something that I am going to miss, and I do not want that to happen. It is not a question of punishment and it is not a question of blame. It is a sense of lacking something if they miss the opportunity. This is what the Medrash calls "charedim al haMitzvos" [trembling to do the commandments].
There is a similar concept in the beginning of the sixth chapter of Tractate Berochos [35b]. The Talmud asks "What is the difference between the earlier generations and the later generations?" The Gemara explained that the earlier generations brought their crops in through the front door (so that they would be sure to be obligated to give the tithes from the crop) while the latter generation purposely sought out loopholes and brought in the crops through the backdoor, so to speak, in order to become exempt from the need to tithe their crops.
This is the difference between the earlier generations and the later generations. The earlier generations had an attitude "Why should we be deprived?" The latter generations are looking for every excuse they can find to circumvent the laws requiring them to give.
At the beginning of the Parsha, the pasuk says: "Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to Aaron and say to him: 'When you kindle the lamps, toward the face of the Menorah shall the seven lamps cast light.'" Rashi famously asks "Why is there a juxtaposition of the section relating to the Princes ' offerings with the section relating to the lighting of the Menorah?"
Rashi answers that when Aaron saw that the leaders of all the other tribes participated in the dedication of the Mishkan and neither he nor his tribe participated, he felt badly about it (chalsha da'ato – he became depressed).
Here too we should note: What was Aaron depressed about? There were 12 Tribes with 12 Princes. Their job was to bring offerings during the 12 day consecration period of the Mishkan. That was not his job. What is he getting so depressed about?
The phenomenon is the same as those of the people who were impure and could not offer the Pessach offering in its proper time. Aaron felt deprived. "Why should I be left out?" Winston Churchill once said, "It is the measure of a man – what makes him angry." We can paraphrase that: "It is the measure of a man of what makes him depressed."
Some people get depressed when the Orioles (or whichever favorite sports team / location) lose. It can be a bad week in Baltimore for a lot of people when their baseball team goes on a losing streak. Some people get depressed when their stocks take a hit or when they lose a lot of money on some other investment. What depresses Aaron? He is depressed because he missed out on a mitzvah, because he could not participate in the dedication of the Mishkan.
Later in the Parsha, there is another example of people who were depressed – but they were depressed about something else. They were depressed because they missed the luscious cucumbers and watermelons they had in Egypt. These people became depressed about food.
This is a question we must ask ourselves. What makes us depressed and what makes us happy? Aaron became depressed about not participating in a mitzvah. The carriers of Yosef's coffin became depressed about not being able to bring a Korban Pessach. The "Complainers" became depressed about not having cucumbers and watermelons! The measure of a man is what makes him sad and what makes him happy.
RABBOSSAI...IT IS OKAY TO BE UPSET ABOUT A FALL. BUT IS THAT UPSET "LESHEM SHAMAYIM", or is it "self-pity / yetzer hara type of upset"? Are we going to go back out there and give it our best shot, and let Hashem worry about our struggle and the fall, or are we going to wallow in self-pity and fall into an endless cycle?
BEVADAI WE SHOULD BE UPSET!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are we going to use that upsetness for HISORRERUS, for a drive to grow a greater connection to Hashem, or are we going to make that upsetness the focus of the past?
Rabbosai, we can learn from our falls...but we can't wallow in depression R"L. Hashem loves us, every second of the day!!!!! We do hishtadlus, and Hashem does the rest.