A Culinary Crucible?
by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, author of Unlocking the Torah Text
Responding to the complaints of the Israelites concerning lack of food, God introduces the miraculous fare that will sustain the nation during their travels: “Behold! I will rain down for you food from heaven; and the people will go out and collect each day’s portion on its day, that I may test them – will they follow My teaching or not?”
This refrain is repeated twice in the book of Devarim as Moshe, recalling the people’s journey in the wilderness, states:
“And you shall remember the entire road upon which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to afflict you, to test you, to know what is in your heart – will you obey His commandments or not? And He afflicted you and let you hunger and He fed you the manna…in order to make you know that not by bread alone does man live, rather by everything that emanates from the mouth of God does man live…. [The God] Who fed you manna in the wilderness…in order to afflict you and in order to test you, to do good for you in the end.”
Why does God associate the miracle of the manna with testing and affliction?
As the Abravanel asks, “What was the nature of the test administered by God through the bestowal of daily sustenance? …This was a kindness, not a test!”
Continued here: link
Adapted from one of the multiple essays on this parsha in Unlocking the Torah Text by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin.