My father was about as old as I am now when my son asked him this question. His mouth opened wide in astonishment.
“How old do you think I am? You think I was alive when the Children of Israel wandered in the desert?”
“No,” my son was quite matter-of-fact. “But there was manna in the Holy Temple.”
His grandfather chuckled at his answer and assured my son that he wasn’t even alive when the Temple was standing.
Obviously, at his age, the youngster didn’t have a clear understanding of time. Yet he’d been able to grasp one of the many details of this week’s Torah portion*. Moses told Aaron to fill a jar with manna and store it in the Ark of Testimony so the coming generations could comprehend it.
We learn many lessons from the manna: preparing for and observing Shabbat, taking our fair share, and not wasting. Most important, in my opinion, is the realization that G-d provides for our needs. Our Sages taught that righteous Jews only had to step outside their tent to find their manna while others had to leave the camp and make an effort to gather their food.
Very few people are on such a high level that they can sit in their homes and wait for their sustenance to appear. However, there are many stories of the hand of G-d helping someone support himself.
In her book, Pieces of the Puzzle, Rivka L. Jacobs wrote about her father making the challenging decision to stop working on Shabbat. His co-workers made fun of him for his loss of salary. However, some time later a cash prize was given out to the most productive worker. And who received the prize? Of course, her father. How much cash did her receive? The same amount that he’d lost when he no longer punched the time clock on Saturday.
Personally, my husband has his own story. He was running a fledging scrap metal business in Phoenix when the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva came to town with a learning program. They set up a study hall in the local synagogue and encouraged the congregants to spend as much time as possible learning Talmud for a week.
It was an amazing oppurtunity for him as he’d never sat and seriously learned before. Still, he was torn. How could he take five days off and not look for discarded metals to buy? Struggling, he finally made the decision to take advantage of the week. There’d be plenty of time afterwards to worry about the monthly income.
Yet, as he was sitting and learning Someone else was worrying about the income. A call came to the synagogue and my husband was summoned to the phone to speak to a radiologist. The doctor was closing down his practice and wanted to get rid of all his old X-rays. Did my husband want them? Of course he did! Could he pick them up the following week? That was no problem. The silver in the film not only made our month, we had extra for the following one.
With such an auspicious beginning my husband stayed committed to finding time to learn daily no matter what was happening with his business. He never tasted the manna. Like my father, he never even saw it in the Holy Temple. However, he learned one of the many lesson of the manna. G-d provides us with what we need if we let Him.
*Exodus, Chapter 16, verses 33 and 34