I hope you’ll enjoy the following Parashat summary
followed by a Dvar Torah;
” Parsha in a Nutshell ”
Moshe continues to encourage the Children of Israel to
trust in Hashem and in the wonderful rewards which He will provide them if they
keep the Torah. Moshe assures them that they will successfully defeat the
nations of Canaan, at which point they must remove every trace of idol worship
remaining in the Holy Land.
Moshe reminds them about the miraculous manna
and the other wonders which Hashem provided for them throughout the past forty
years, and he warns them to beware of their own future prosperity and military
success which might cause them to forget Hashem. He further reminds them of
their transgressions in the desert, retelling the story of the golden calf at
length, and describing Hashem’s abundant mercy with them.
Moshe teaches the people the second paragraph of the Shema which stresses the fundamental doctrine of reward and punishment based upon our performance of the mitzvot. The Parsha concludes with Hashem’s promise that He will provide the Jewish people with protection if they observe the laws of the Torah.
” Dvar Torah ”
In this week’s Parsha, Moshe once again, reviews the adventures of the Benei Israel in their forty years journey in the desert. He tells the people that all of their accomplishments throughout their lives are not because of their own intelligence and strength, but rather, they are all because of Hashem’s generosity and blessings that he has bestowed upon
them. And to prove his point, Moshe reminds the people of the “Manna”, the
heavenly bread that Hashem provided for them throughout their forty years
journey in the desert. He tells them that “Hashem afflicted you and let you
hunger, then He fed you manna……. in order to make you know that man does not
live on bread alone, but by the utterance of G-d’s mouth does man live.” Then a
few pasuks later he says: ” He (Hashem), who fed you manna in the desert which
your forefathers did not know, in order to afflict you and in order to TEST you,
to do good for you in the end.”
Well, the Chachamim don’t waste anytime
to come up with the following question. What kind of a test is Moshe talking
about? Up till now, we thought that the purpose of the manna was to supply
enough nutrition for the people in the desert, but now, Moshe is telling us that
the purpose was to test the people?! So, what kind of a test was the test of
Well, as usual, the commentators have difference of opinions in
regards to the answer to this question. Since the time and the space don’t allow
us to discuss them all, we shall review only a few of them.
Rashi explains that the “Test” was referring to the laws that govern the manna. One
could not store away any manna for the next day. One had to collect a double
portion on Friday, since there was no manna showered down on Shabbat. And so
forth. Hashem wanted to see if we could follow a simple set of rules or not! But
unfortunately, some people failed the test and kept some manna for the next day
and it got rotten. And some people went out on Shabbat to collect manna, but
they couldn’t find any!
Rambam explains that the “Test” was to see if the
people who received the miraculous heavenly bread on a daily basis for forty
years, do they still see it as a miracle after a while, or does it become normal
to them and they see it as an act of nature? He says that unfortunately, after a
while, for most of the people traveling in the desert, the manna became part of
their routine lives and they didn’t see it as a miracle anymore. Only when they
entered Eretz Israel, when the manna stopped, then they realized what a great
blessing they’ve been having in the past!! Sometimes, unfortunately, we don’t
realize what a great blessing we have until we don’t have it any
Sforno, who is another great medieval commentator, explains that
the test of Manna was to see if the Jews would still follow the Torah when they
did not have to worry about their everyday livelihood. You see, in the desert,
the Benei Israel had it very easy. They didn’t need to worry about making money
since everything was provided for them for free. Manna was showered down to
their doorsteps everyday; their clothes never wore out; they lived in tents, so
they didn’t have any mortgages. They had no worries, since they had no expenses!
Accordingly, they had a lot of spare time on their hand. What did they do with
their spare time? Did they spend their free time to study torah and get closer
to G-d, or did they spend it on complaining to Moshe the whole time and going
after the forbidden sins?! And that was the real test of Manna, Sforno explains!
Unfortunately, we see that the Benei Israel failed the test. Instead of being
thankful to Hashem for all the miracles, they spent their free time complaining
to Moshe the whole time and going after the forbidden sins!
Yes my friends, the test of manna is an ongoing test in every generation. When, G-d
forbid, we are faced with troubles, sickness, life-threatening danger or even
death, we all become religious. We all come to Kanissas. We all pray with
enthusiasm. We all say Tehillim with tears streaming down our cheeks. We all
give charity generously. But when things are going well, when they are going
wonderfully, do we give much thought to the Almighty? Do we still put on our
tefillins everyday? Do we still go to Kanissa every Shabbat? Do we still give
charity generously? And above all, do we still spend time on studying the
You see, there is a great test in “bread being showered down from
the heaven to our doorsteps”! Showered with blessings without an effort is a
dangerous thing! B”H, when we are blessed with prosperity, health and happiness,
it gives us a great amount of leisure time and freedom of action. What do we do
we our spare time? Do we use this time to acknowledge G-d and to get closer to
Him, or do we use it to go after the “forbidden”?? And this is the great test of
the “Manna” that challenges us in every generation!
May we always be showered with blessings and miracles, but may we also past the test and acknowledge that whatever we have is because of Hashem’s generous blessings, and
not because of our own intelligence and strength!