All of the Torah points to arriving in the land of Israel. How is that grand arrival announced? Right before the conquest of Jericho, in Joshua, (5:11-12) we read: “On that day when they ate the produce of the land, the manna ceased. The Israelites got no more manna.”
That is the grand declaration. No fanfare. You are in the land because food no longer drops from the sky. You know you’ve arrived when the miracle is over.
Of course there are other miracles to follow in the Tanach. Nonetheless the message endures: once you inherit the land of Israel you must grow your own food, fight your own battles and build your own cities. The results will be imperfect, but they will be yours.
Manna never came again. From the moment we left the desert Jews have had to face the world with courage, wit, tradition and faith. Jewish history taught us how many wonders can be fashioned by passionate hearts and skilled hands. So once again we can eat the produce of the land, knowing that modern Israel was not built with miracles, but its building is a miracle.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book is “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press).