YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
HaRav Yehuda Kreuser SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva
PARSHAT BESHALACH/SHABBAT SHIRA/TU B'SHVAT
15 Shevat 5770/29-30 January 2010
THE ULTIMATE TEST
"Hashem said to Moses: 'Behold, I shall rain down for you food from Heaven. Let the people go out and pick each day's portion in its day so that I can test them, whether they will follow My teaching or not.'"
Without a doubt, man's hardest test in this world is his obsession with making parnassa - a livelihood. Certainly this occupies most of man's waking thoughts, from the moment he rises till the moment he places his head on his bed at night, throughout his entireadult life. Will the bank call me today because of my overdraft? Will I be able to pay my bills? Do I have enough money in my "nest" for retirement? Even our patriarch Jacob prayed to G-d only for a "garment to wear and food to eat."
The Jewish people, maybe more than any other nation, has always had the issue and worry of parnassa etched upon them. When Hashem first commanded us to leave Egypt and follow him into the desert, a place of no water or food, some 2 to 3 million Jews - men women and children - went without hesitation, and for this they were praised by G-d, as the prophet Jeremiah tell us: I remember for your sake the kindness of your youth, the love of your bridal days, how you followed me in the wilderness in an unsown land".
When the Jewish people left Egypt and began to complain of the lack of water and food, Hashem rained down upon them Manna -Angel bread - which continued for the 40 years that they were in the desert, and without great trouble they would be sustained with all that they needed. There were three aspects about the Manna: 1) it would come down in small amounts; 2) each person would receive exactly what he needed; and 3) any Manna left over would turn putrid.
The Manna was a great test for the young nation of Israel. Would they take more than they needed to order to have for a "rainy day"? Would they go out when commanded not toon Shabbat to search for the Manna? The Ramban writes that every day the Manna would come down a little bit later than on the pervious day, and while they were waiting for it to descend, worried parents would be concerned that maybe today the Manna would not come at all and then what would be? But sure enough, it would arrive. In this way Hashem was testing His people and teaching them to rely only on Him for their sustenance.
The Talmud relates that the students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai once asked him: Would it not have been better if Hashem would have given the Jewish people all of their needs once a year, instead of making them go out everyday to search for the Manna? He replied that Hashem desires the prayers of the Jewish people, that they should call out to Him. Families which had four or five children would cry out to Hashem: Should my children die from hunger? It would then be that Hashem would answer their prayers.
Daily we struggle with the test of parnassa. It is the one test that runs after us time and time again, never releasing us from its hold. If we are able to strengthen ourselves with faith that all parnassa comes from the Creator - like the Manna that fell in the desert - that daily we receive exactly what we are supposed to for our families, no more but also no less - then we are able to uplift ourselves and connect to our Creator. This, then, is man's ultimate test in this world: Will we believe that Hashem is Master of the world and can certainly supply all our needs? Or will we fall into thinking that we must take "extra" stolen Manna into our houses, to "help" out G-d so to speak?
Rabbi Elazar Hamidai said that everyone who has enough food for today and says what will I eat tomorrow is of little faith. As the Talmud tells us, what causes the righteous to lose their table in the next world? It is because of their little faith. Yes, they are call righteous, they keep all the mitzvot, eat all the right foods, learn all the right Torah, know all the right moves, but are still called by the Talmud, men of little faith, for not believing that Hashem can really provide for them.
Today, the most common excuse we hear from fellow Jews in the exiles is: Oh, I would love tocome and live in Israel, but how will I make a living? People: Think about that a moment. What are you saying? That Hashem, Master of the world Who provides and sustains life for every little thing, from the mighty lion to the eggs of lice, won't be able to supply your family?
While praying to Hashem we all raise and open our arms, saying: "You supply all living beings with life", as we turn our eyes heavenward, but do we mean that this is only for outside the Land of Israel? In Israel G-d cannot give me my daily bread!!??
Needless to say, this is the ultimate test for the Jew today. Do we really believe in Him, that even in the land of Israel it will be OK and he will supply our parnassa? Or do we stay behind in the exiles, not taking part in the final chapter of Jewish history unfolding before us and say: Well, G-d really cannot provide for me in His land, so I'd better stay put in the exile.
Today, Israel houses some six million Jews, some rich, some poorer, but all of whom have food on their table and clothes to wear. Every day Hashem brings down the modern Manna for His people. Yes, He can and He does, but those who stay behind because they feel that He cannot help them - fail miserably the ultimate test that the Jew was sent into this world for.
Ultimately, as G-d always pays back measure for measure, that very same "nest" that they have come to rely on so much will vanish before their eyes.