AIMeM would like to thank Nussi Samuel for filling in this week
In this week’s Parsha, Moshe continues speaking to Klal Yisrael in the Midbar. The Parsha begins with detailing the reward for continuing to do the mitzvos, and Hashem’s assurances that Klal Yisrael will be able to conquer Eretz Yisrael as part of this reward. Moshe recalls various events that occurred while Klal Yisrael was circling in the Midbar, and speaks about the Manna – the heavenly food that fell from Heaven.
It is clear from pesukim beis and gimmel in perek ches that Hashem’s intent in providing manna was to spiritually challenge the Jewish people, (Devarim 8:2)” לְנַסֹּֽתְךָ֗ לָדַ֜עַת אֶת־אֲשֶׁ֧ר בִּלְבָֽבְךָ֛” – “To test you, to know what’s in your heart”. But what about receiving food from Heaven involves a test?
Life in the Midbar was like being in an incubator. The constant awareness of Hashem was so great- Ananei Hakavod, miraculous food and clothing – Hashem’s presence was so visible and tangible. Reward and punishment took place immediately. It seems rather strange that this was the test that demonstrated what was in the hearts of the Jewish people.
The Manna wasn’t something that existed within the laws of nature and was therefore completely unfamiliar to Klal Yisrael. As the Pasuk says in Parshas Bshalach (16:15) that Klal Yisrael called it Manna (what is it?) because “כִּי לֹא יָדְעוּ מַה הוּא”- “they did not know what it was” In this week’s Parsha, the Pasuk (8:3) says “וַיַּֽאֲכִֽלְךָ֤ אֶת־הַ
מָּן֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹא־יָדַ֔עְתָּ וְ לֹ֥א יָדְע֖וּן אֲבֹתֶ֑יךָ” “They ate the Manna which they did not know, and neither did their fathers know.”
The test was accepting something outside their concept of natural, beyond their limited perspective on the world. Its existence defied logic. Living in the Midbar was an existence “beyond nature”. The Sforno writes (Devarim 8:2),” וזכרת אתכל הדרך- שנתן ל
ך לחם לאכול ובגד ללבוש שלא בדר ך טבע” – You should remember the entire road – that Hashem gave you bread to eat and clothing to wear in a manner that isn’t natural.”
Another element of the test of the manna was, as the Rashbam explains (both in this week’s Parsha and in Parshas Beshalach), that Klal Yisrael could only collect enough manna daily to last for that day. Klal Yisrael needed to be entirely dependent on Hashem for their sustenance. When living within the confines of the natural world, we are taught to worry for tomorrow, and to “put something away for a rainy day.” Ultimately, the Manna represented a blueprint of our Parnassah and how we should relate to it. The ideal attitude to Parnassah would be concern for only the here and now. We obviously live in a world that makes decisions based on the future, but that is simply part of our Hishtadlus. That was the manna’s test: to trust that Hashem would provide today for today and tomorrow for tomorrow. When we ate manna, we broke out of our preconceived notion of how things are supposed to be, and we passed the test by eating “beyond-natural”, heavenly food. By adhering to the instruction not to leave over manna from one day to the next, we believed and accepted that Hashem would provide- thus, the manna represents the foundation of our Emunah.
The Pasuk tells us in regard to the Manna (Devarim 8:3) “כִּי לֹא עַל הַלֶּחֶם לְבַדּוֹ יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם כִּי עַל כָּל מוֹצָא פִי יְהוָה יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם” – “For not on bread alone does man live, but rather by what Hashem decrees will man live on” Hashem says, I made bread
satiate, I can make anything satiate. Hashem is not bound by nature, for He created nature. The Manna served to showcase and demonstrate true belief and trust in Hashem- a trust we imbibed in the Midbar, that continues to sustain the Jewish people for eternity.
Nussi Samuel is originally from New York and now lives in Yerushalayim with his family, where he studies and teaches in various yeshivos. He is a first-time contributor to AIMeM Torah.
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