“The Children of Israel saw and said to one another, ‘It is food!’ for they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, ‘This is the food that G-d has given you for eating.’ ” (Shemot 16:15)
The manna that fell from Heaven had many miraculous qualities, and it did not fall from heaven on Shabbat. Rather, each Jew received two portions of manna every Friday. One portion was meant for consumption on Friday and the second portion was meant to be consumed on Shabbat.
Rabbi Moshe Shapiro notes that the word manna (mahn in Hebrew) shares the root for the word emunah — faith or trust. Manna also means portion (Rashi). The lesson seems clear: One’s “portion” is directly related to one’s faith. This idea comes into sharp focus for us almost daily. When our needs are adequately taken care of, we are content. However, our faith is tested when we feel that we lack adequate sustenance.
After hearing a fiery speech about the meaning of faith, a disciple of Rabbi Yisroel Salanter asked, “Rabbi, are you telling me that if I have perfect faith in G-d, He will provide me with all my needs?”
Rabbi Salanter affirmed, “Yes, my son. The Almighty provides for those who have perfect faith in Him.” The man thought to himself, “If so, I no longer need to work. I’ll sit and study Torah and rely solely on my faith, and the 20,000 rubles that I need to survive will come to me like manna from Heaven!” The man went home and studied Torah. When the money did not arrive by the week’s end, he returned to the rabbi to complain. “I have the faith you said I needed, but the money hasn’t arrived!”
“I’ll tell you what,” Rabbi Salanter said. “I will give you 8,000 rubles cash today if you commit yourself to give me the 20,000 rubles that you’re sure will come because of your faith.” The man jumped from his chair. “8,000 rubles! I’ll take it.” Rabbi Yisroel smiled, “Who in his right mind would give up 20,000 rubles for a mere 8,000 rubles? Only someone who lacks faith that he’ll receive 20,000 rubles! Obviously you have more faith in my 8,000 rubles then in G-d’s 20,000!”
The lesson from the manna is that we should not worry over how our sustenance will come, but rather be confident that G-d will provide us with what He knows is best for us. When the Jewish people asked for food and received manna, Moses reassured them that while it was not what they had had in mind, G-d provided exactly what was needed. While our efforts are the vehicle for providing sustenance, we must remember that G-d is the real source of that blessing.
by Rabbi Binyomin Adler