God said to Moses, “Look! I will rain down [the manna] for you from heaven. [Every day], the people will gather what is needed for that day, so I can test whether they will follow my rules.”
For forty years, the Israelites were blessed with this phenomenal food that rained down from heaven, ready to eat, which tasted like anything they wanted it to.
They had just come out of Egypt and were experiencing all of these tremendous miracles. This was a Godly food that was not dependent on the effort of the human being. It was impossible not to credit God.
Unlike this heavenly angelic food, most food a person must earn through hard labor and toil. He must sweat and work hard to plow the land and seed it. He must trim and prune the crop and harvest it; even so, he indeed believes his labor’s success includes blessings from the Above. The good weather, the success in the growth, and the health that did not fail are, after all, ultimately in the hands of God.
Regarding a person’s faith in God, when it comes to the returns a person has worked hard to accumulate, it is very easy to take credit and believe the results are self-made. How often have we heard, “I am” or, “he is”, self-made!
In the case of the manna from heaven, before the Israelites entered their land, God built the foundation of this newly formed nation and implanted the powerful virtues of faith and trust within them. God was strengthening their awareness of His ability to provide and involvement in all they had. By commanding them not to keep the manna from one day to the next, they were being trained to look heavenward for their food and to know that God provides at the best times and in the best ways.
Had the Israelites kept some of the food from one day to the next, they would have exhibited a worry for the food and income of the next day and security upon what was in the bank rather than on God.
The Midrash explains that whoever created the day in all its complexities and beauty also provides every day for the needs of each person. Rabbi Elozar from Modiin said, “Whoever has what to eat today and asks, ‘What will I eat tomorrow?’ is from those who lack faith.”
This is one of the explanations for why God presented the manna to the Israelites in the wilderness covered with dew. Dew is always “guaranteed”. Our sages tell us that dew is unlike rain because it is not dependent upon people’s merits and does not need to be earned.
It is written that the holy Baal Shem Tov could not fall asleep every night until the last penny was spent every day. After paying his meager expenses, he would distribute whatever was left to charity in absolute faith that God would provide the next day whatever was needed.
There was, however, a small effort necessary to receive the manna. The Israelites had to go out to the fields to gather what was needed for that day.
Had there been no effort, some may have wrongly concluded that there are only two paths: one of miracle food from heaven and one in which a person must put in his effort. Two completely separate paths.
The eternal lesson from the account of the manna from heaven is that even when an effort is put forth to receive food, one must always recognize that ultimately the big prize and the success of any endeavor is due entirely to the good grace of God.
Chapter 175 www.aspiritualsoulbook.com