Parashat B’shalach (When he sent) Exodus 13:17-17:16
Haftarah: Judges 4:4-5:31
In this week’s Torah portion, one learns a very important principle. Have you ever been in need and prayed that G-d would multiply what you have and meet that need? There are numerous examples of this in the Scripture. One of my favorites is the woman who needed money and the prophet told her to gather many jars and for her to pour what little she had into one jar after another. This she did and the oil did not run out until all the jars were full (See 2 Kings chapter 4). Although G-d does indeed multiply what we have in providing for us, there is another way in which He meets needs.
One of the most miraculous times in Israel’s history was those forty years in the wilderness. I have been in the wildernesses of Paran and Tzin where Israel spent a great deal of time during those forty years and clearly there was no way that the Land could have provided for such a large group of people. We all know that HaShem supplied to the people manna. The Hebrew word for manna is מן “mahn”. Some scholars have said that this word is related to the Hebrew word מה which means “what” relating to the fact that the Children of Israel did not recognize what this was at first.
There is a second, and what I believe to be a better, interpretation for the meaning of the Hebrew word from which manna is derived. We all know that manna is a heavenly food. Although it was thin and tasteless and did not appear to be very nutritious, it sustained the people during those forty years. One of the Hebrew words for food is מזון. According to the famed rabbinical commentator, Rashi, the word manna is just an abbreviation of this word (מזון to מן). The miracle here is that HaShem sustained the people by providing far less than the people had expected. In other words, one need not always pray for more to meet his needs, but ask G-d to sustain you on less.
I am reminded of a friend of mine who was broke and hungry. It was at a time in his life that he was very much alone and did not have anyone to turn to for help, but Yeshua. He was so hungry and did not have any money at all. He prayed and behold after a few steps, there was a dollar in front of him. He went and bought at a grocery store a small package of noodles and a little piece of chocolate cake. This was several years ago and although the portions were very little, he said some how this small meal truly satisfied him. It made quite an impression upon him because when he told me this story many years later, having turned his life around (by G-d’s grace), I could see how these two things— the dollar he found and how this simple meal met his need—had impacted his life.
The principle that we often neglect and for which we seldom pray is— for HaShem to sustain us with less rather than provide more.
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