Phenomenal Food

(Torah Portion Beshalach) Phenomenal Food

As the enormous Jewish nation traveled through the barren desert, they became concerned where they were going to get food, and they complained.

G-d provided them each day with Heavenly food, which they called Mun – Manna.

This phenomenal food was their source of sustenance through their 40 years of travel through the desert.

Each allotted portion of Mun had to be consumed on the day it was given, and if any was left overnight it would become wormy.

There were two exceptions: G-d commanded that a portion of Mun be placed in a jar as an everlasting testimony that G-d is the source of sustenance for all mankind. This portion is currently hidden and will last forever, never becoming wormy.

And each Friday, the Jews collected two portions of Mun, one for Friday and one for the holy day of Shabbos, which did not become wormy overnight.

An insight into human nature can be gleaned from these two circumstances.

When G-d commanded Moshe to place a portion of Mun in a jar for safekeeping, the Torah emphasizes that Aaron immediately performed the command.

The question is why did the Torah underscore that Aaron followed this command without delay? Commentators explain that although Aaron knew that the Mun would be around throughout their journey in the desert and he could have fulfilled the command right before they entered into the land of Israel, nevertheless, he acted immediately while the hype of the new phenomenon of Mun was freshly experienced and appreciated.

Aaron understood the liability of putting things off. He feared that once the excitement of the Mun wears off, they may forget to do it. The Torah therefore emphasizes Aaron’s promptness in fulfilling the command while the thrill of the Mun was still in the air.

Similarly, at the time G-d informed Moshe that He would provide Mun as sustenance for the Jews, He also told him that a double portion of Mun would be found on each Friday. However, when Moshe related to the Jews that they would receive Mun each day, he did not tell them that a double portion would fall on Friday.

When Friday came and they realized they received a double portion of Mun, they immediately went to Moshe to tell him about the phenomenon.

It was only then that Moshe related to the Jews, G-d’s instructions that the Mun would not appear on the Shabbat.

The question raised is what was Moshe’s purpose and rationale for sequestering this information?

Rabbi Chaim Leib Shmuelevitz o.b.m. explained it based on human psychology. Had Moshe told the Jews in the beginning of the week that on Friday they would receive a double portion of Mun, by the time Friday arrived they would have expected it or perhaps even thought they were entitled to this double portion. Moshe withheld the information because he wanted to impact on the nation with the surprise of the additional portion, visualizing the blessings which Shabbos affords vis-à-vis the Mun.

Moshe and Aaron were concerned that through human frailty they could even get used to the Mun, the most miraculous of creations, which descended from Heaven tasting like almost any food one imagined and was so pure that it produced no bodily waste.

With this insight, perhaps we can appreciate why our daily prayers are so saturated with praises of G-d. For if one minimizes his expressions of praise and recognition of G-d’s power and Mastery, he risks taking life and all its awesome gifts for granted, and they may even go unnoticed.

Wishing you a most restful, uplifting, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks