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manna from heaven


In our day and age, Manna doesn’t fall from Heaven. Indeed, nothing comes from Heaven on a silver platter anymore.

The Torah portion of Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25) contains a reminder that God fed the Jewish people Manna, the heavenly bread-like food that tasted like whatever you wanted it to. Due to the lack of kosher restaurants in the Sinai desert, it was the Manna that sustained the Jewish people during the forty years of wandering in the desert.

The Manna is frequently used as a modern-day metaphor and symbol for sustenance and livelihood. In our day and age, Manna doesn’t fall from Heaven. Indeed, nothing comes from Heaven on a silver platter anymore. Today, we have to sweat and struggle to make a living. This is not necessarily a bad thing however. Yes, you read that right. As we will see, getting everything on a silver platter is not as glamorous as it may seem.

The Torah says: “The people shall go out and gather their daily portion [of Manna] each day…in order to test whether or not they will follow My Torah.”

Huh? God promises the people that He will provide them with food and take care of all of their needs. (Indeed, our sages teach us that the Manna-gift included all forms of sustenance – even new clothes, and jewelry for the ladies!). All the people have to do is follow the Torah. Who would not agree to such a deal? This is a test?!

Enjoying the Manna had some strings attached. There were conditions. The deal was that one was only permitted to take his allotted portion of Manna. One was not permitted to collect any more than that. So too, one was not permitted to leave any of it left over for the next day! The Jews required to live on a “day by day” basis, entrusting their sustenance, if not their lives, completely in God’s hands. This was indeed a test. A test that many Jews had failed.

In our day and age, our Manna is our income and livelihood. The tests today are not all that different. Do we have trust that just as God supplied us with our needs today, He will certainly do so again tomorrow? Do we, perhaps, take “more than our allotted portion” (read: dishonesty, theft)?

Furthermore, when people have all their needs taken care of with no sweat or expense of their own, they often forget Who took care of them and to Whom they must give thanks. Affluence without responsibility is nothing less than dangerous. It can change a person for the worst. It also puts far too much time on a person’s hands which often leads to idle, useless, if not sinful pursuits.

Yes, there is certainly a “test” in having everything provided for you. When someone is sick or things aren’t going too well, everyone is quick to say a prayer or perform some kind of good deed. But when things are going GREAT with no problems whatsoever, do the same people STILL say a prayer – a prayer of thanks- or do a good deed?

The message: We have to always remember the Manna. That everything we have comes from God. No, our livelihood does not come down from Heaven on a silver platter anymore, but everything does indeed come from Heaven. We have to have faith and be thankful no matter what comes our way.

Shabbat Shalom from Israel!