In Parshat Beshalach, after crossing the Red Sea and travelling several weeks the Jewish nation depletes their provisions and is in need of food. They cry out to the heavens and G-d literally rains down Manna from the heavens.
The Manna fell between layers of dew each morning and provided each family exactly how much they needed. All week long families collected a daily portion except for Fridays when G-d provided two portions; one for Friday and one for Shabbat – (which is why we take two loaves of Challah for Shabbat meals). Manna was nutritious; it was delicious and it tasted like anything you wanted it to.
Each year when I review the Parsha I am baffled as to why the Israelites complained about the Manna. Where else could they find food miraculously delivered to them that tasted like any delicacy they could fathom. It was anything and everything they ever could have wanted; and still they complained.
Nowadays we may not have Manna from the heavens, but modern society boasts a myriad of luxuries that previous generations did not dream of. From car seat warmers, to DSL internet as well as GPS directional systems …. just to name a few. Yet our society is not a happier because of it; complaining still exists. Society dictates to always want new, more; different, even the Manna would not satisfy us.
Perhaps the way to confront this challenge is by working specifically with the gifts G-d has already granted instead of looking for new ones. One can find new approaches and meanings within his/her already existing lives. One’s family, job, and talents are the perfect mix to orchestrate the wonderful life one deserves. It seems we must learn to live with appreciation for what we already have and enjoy it.
G-d has given each of us a different “basket of Manna”. It is our task to fortify it, decorate it, instill it with delicious flavors and be proud and satisfied with our accomplishments. Then we can share it with our family and friends and enrich their lives with our “Manna” as well.
May we learn well how to Manna – age our lives with wisdom and skill to better ourselves and the world around us.
Rabbi Ephraim Epstein
Rabbi Epstein is the Rabbi of Congregation Sons of Israel in Cherry Hill, NJ, and is the author of Tefillah Tips