17 Shevat, 5761
February 9-10, '01
Did you hear about the latest diet?
Not that Atkins diet. (No carbohydrates? Give me a break!) It's not Weight Watchers. Not the Zone.
There's a new diet sweeping the nation-the Jewish nation, that is-in this week's parsha. It's called the Manna diet. For complete instructions, see Exodus, Chapter 16, verses 4-36. The only problem is that it's a little difficult locating the main ingredient these days. But still, we can gain from examining this original Kosher meal plan.
Manna's got some good features for a diet food. It tastes great. In fact, it tastes like whatever you want it to. (Beat that, Tofu!) Just imagine your favorite food while you're chewing and that's the flavor you'll enjoy on your palate. (And presumably, Manna is organic.)
Manna is unique in another respect. It is the only food that generates no waste products in its consumers. Every calorie of Manna ingested is absorbed completely by the body. It's pure nutrition, physical and spiritual.
Manna is cheap-if you can find it. It just falls from the sky overnight. I know what you're thinking- "Bread falling from the sky!? What's the message here? That money grows on trees?"
The message is deeper. It's hard to accept visions of bread falling from the sky-too outrageous. How could it be true? But is that so different from inserting a seed in the ground and up growing a stalk of wheat or a tree? Isn't it a miracle when a tiny seed morphs into a plant or a tree bearing fruits? We don't remake seeds into plants. It just happens, like bread falling out of the sky. Should nature's regularity make it less a miracle in our eyes? Or more?
Let's probe further. Today, farmers have to labor hard. Everyone does. Back then, in the Sinai, all our ancestors had to do was go out and gather breakfast off the dew on the desert floor. (Great work, if you can get it). We have to do so much of the work ourselves today. What message do we hear from the Manna?
We feel we're accomplishing a lot by the sweat of our brows today, or at least by the planning and
focusing and calculating of our minds. We work hard studying in universities and garnering expertise through the day to day challenges of business. Our success comes hard earned. But what's the primary ingredient that makes our success possible?
To be successful, we need the right equipment. Hard work is secondary to possessing the needed tools. True, if one has the tools but wastes them, then the tools are a waste. But without tools, hard work won't help. A monkey could sit through law school or medical school (perhaps some have) along with the other students, but it would never earn its degree. Why not? Because monkeys don't have the brains for comprehending these subjects. We're only able to fathom such abstract concepts because G-d created us as humans and not monkeys. But not because of anything we did, just like a seed doesn't become a plant through human ingenuity. We are able to achieve what we achieve because G-d gave us potential. We have to shape that potential through our hard work into something we can be proud to show G-d we accomplished. But the potential is the primary ingredient. As we can see from the monkeys.
The miraculous culinary experience of the Jewish nation in the wilderness taught us an exaggerated lesson, but one whose truth cannot be overstated. All of our efforts are secondary to the potential that G-d plants in us. As we are accomplishing all the things we accomplish, we must be cognizant of the deepest source of our success. Our life's work is collecting our Manna that falls from the sky-developing the potential that G-d has entrusted in us.
One final Manna message. Manna fell six days a week. Every morning we had to collect our portion for the new day. On Fridays, we were commanded to collect a double portion to last for
Shabbos, when we're not allowed to gather in from outside. Each previous day's Manna would only last until the next day's portion appeared. When we tried storing up Manna, it turned to worms.
Is this a Torah message against saving? Being frugal with our incomes and saving responsibly are Torah values. The Torah is sending us a different message here. It's a good thing to need to work for a living. Daily financial needs force us to turn towards G-d and pray for assistance. We think that Adam, the first man, was cursed with having to work for a living. But the heaviest curse was cast on the snake. Remember its curse? Eating the dust of the earth. Snakes have no trouble procuring food. They have no financial crises, but they thus have no need to turn towards G-d. This is the heavy curse of the snake. It has no needs and it thus never connects with G-d. We have many needs. We have new needs every day, like our ancestors in the wilderness. Our needs encourage us to turn towards G-d. Let's chew on these lessons for a while.
Into Genesis |
Insights Into Exodus | Insights Into Leviticus
Insights into Numbers | Insights
In February, STEP Goes Back To Sunday School.
New Three-Part Lecture Series-
"Sunday School Revisited: A Deeper Look at the Biblical Stories of our Youths."
Lecture #1: "The Sin of Adam and Eve."
Tuesday, February 13th at 8:00 PM at the JEA. Presented by Rabbi Shulman.
Lecture # 2: "The Sin of the Golden Calf."
Tuesday, February 20th at 8:00 PM at the JEA. Presented by Rabbi Edelstein.
Lecture # 3: "The Purim Story: The Secret Lives of Mordechai and Esther. "
Tuesday, February 27th at 8:00 PM at the JEA. Presented by Rabbi Shulman.
Don't Miss the Kollel's Thursday Night Parsha Class at 8:00 PM in the BB Chapel.
To get in touch with STEP, call Rabbi Shulman at (912) 303-9591
or Rabbi Edelstein at (912) 351-0469. E-mail us at STEPKollel@netzero.net
Call us, or we'll call you.
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