Food from heaven? Experience of faith

We can't be judgmental about the generation of the desert. It is precisely this generation that teaches us significant lessons for life.

Phil Chernofsky ,

Flash 90

Personal story: Many years ago, I drove down to Eilat with my family and we detoured to Timna Valley. I parked the car and walked away, by myself, around a couple of bends, until I could not see my car, any other person, or anything manmade. I looked around. It was beautiful and peaceful. For 10 minutes. After that, I started to worry and then panic. It was hot; I had no water with me; what if I couldn't find my family or my car.

The panic lasted for a moment, but it taught me an important lesson: We cannot judge Dor HaMidbar, the generation of the Wilderness. How could they complain so bitterly so soon after having witnessed the Splitting of the Sea? How can they complain so bitterly and disrespectfully for food? How can they say that they would prefer to return to Egypt? We cannot judge them!

But we can take a double-adjusted challenge from the Torah's account of the episodes of that generation.

They witnessed the great miracles of the Splitting of the Sea.

We regularly witness the 'natural' miracles of the unsplit sea. Stand on the beach and look out over the vastness of our piece of the Sea or Ocean or River...

The unadjusted lesson would be that when we are privileged to witness open miracles like K'ri'at Yam Suf, we should appreciate them in such a way that the appreciation will last longer than three days and will favorably color our reaction to adverse situations that we encounter.

The adjusted lesson - so much more practical for us is to witness the less flashy, common, take-for-granted miracles of nature - such as a sea, a tree, a flower, a fruit... - and be filled with appreciation of and gratitude for G-d and the World that He Created for us. And that our appreciation and gratitude should be long-lasting, through thick and thin (as the expression goes).

In B'shalach, we read not only of the Splitting of the Sea, but of the MAHN (manna) which fed Bnei Yisrael for almost forty years in the Midbar.

How could they have left over MAHN for the following day, when G-d told them not to? How can they have looked for MAHN on Shabbat when G-d had told them that there would be none on Shabbat? WE CANNOT JUDGE THEM.

But we too are fed by G-d. Our food doesn't fall from the heavens and isn't protected by two layers of dew, but it is no less miraculous.

Our adjusted version of the gift AND challenge of the MAHN, includes the laws of kashrut, making brachot before and after we eat, being satisfied and thankful for what we have... And even if we also want to say something to G-d about our own situations, it should not be as bitter complaints, but as prayerful requests.

Our double challenge is to see the Hand of G-d in the ordinary, and to let our appreciation be deepfelt and long-lasting.

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