The Spiritual Effect of Tasting the Manna
The miracle of the manna that fell from heaven and nurtured millions of
people for forty years is one of the focal points of this week’s parsha. The
obvious reason for the miracle’s occurrence is that the Jewish people had to
have daily nourishment simply to survive. However the rabbis of the Talmud
injected another factor into the miracle of the falling manna.
They stated that “the Torah could only have been granted to those that ate
manna daily.” Thus the necessity for the manna was directly associated with
the granting of the Torah to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai. No manna, no
Torah. Why is this so?
Most commentators are of the opinion that only a people freed from the daily
concerns of earning a living and feeding a family could devote themselves
solely to Torah study and acceptance of the life values that acceptance of
the Torah mandates.
The Torah is a demanding discipline. It requires time and effort,
concentration and focus to appreciate and understand it. Cursory glances and
even inspiring sermons will not yield much to those who are unwilling to
invest time and effort into its study and analysis. This was certainly true
in this first generation of Jewish life, newly freed from Egyptian bondage
and lacking heritage, tradition and life mores that would, in later
generations, help Jews remain Jewish and appreciate the Torah.
The isolation of the Jewish people in the desert of Sinai coupled with the
heavenly provision of daily manna and the miraculous well of Miriam together
created a certain think-tank atmosphere. This atmosphere enabled Torah to
take root in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people.
In his final oration to the Jewish people, recorded for us in the book of
Dvarim, Moshe reviews the story of the manna falling from heaven. But there
Moshe places a different emphasis on the matter. He states there that the
manna came to teach, “… that humans do not live by bread alone but rather on
the utterances of God’s mouth,”
In order to appreciate Torah, to truly fathom its depths and understand its
values system, one has to accept its Divine origin. Denying that basic
premise of Judaism compromises all deeper understanding and analysis of
Torah. Thus the manna, the presence of God, so to speak, in the daily life
of the Jew allowed the Torah to sink into the depths of the Jewish soul and
become part of the matrix of our very DNA.
The Torah could only find a permanent and respected home within those who
tasted God’s presence, so to speak, every day within their very beings and
bodies. The rabbis also taught us that the manna produced no waste materials
within the human body.
When dealing with holiness and holy endeavors there is nothing that goes to
waste. No effort is ignored and no thought and attempt is left unrecorded in
the heavenly court of judgment. Even good intent is counted meritoriously.
Let us feel that we too have tasted the manna.
Rabbi Berel Wein