Every mitzvah in the Torah is more than just a commandment and a directive. Certainly one must follow and fulfill every commandment of God. But beyond the specific performance of the mitzvah, every mitzvah contains and teaches us an attitude, a philosophy, a perspective to apply to our lives and through which we should see the world.
In the same way, every event in the Torah is more than just a story. The interactions between us and God, the interactions between each of the human players, the lessons taught and words used are more than a record of events that actually occurred. Each event holds the potential to teach us an attitude, a philosophy, a perspective to apply to our lives and through which we should see the world.
There are so many lessons from the description of the man, the daily bread that God provided for the Jewish people throughout the 40 years in the desert, its delivery and the procedure for its collection and storage. Each verse deserves study on a surface level and then a deep dive into its nuances and implications. One idea, though, jumps out. Sunday through Thursday everyone went out and no matter how much time was spent collecting, everyone ended up with an Omer measure of Man for each member of the household and that was it. And on Erev Shabbat the amount was double. It did not matter how fast one collected or how strong one was. No matter how much effort was put in, everyone got exactly what was needed. The Talmud tells us that the same is true in our lives. On Rosh Hashana it is decreed for each person how much money he or she will make during the coming year and nothing a person does will change that. Work harder, work more, somehow in the end the bottom line will remain the same as decreed.
This is not a statement that suggests that one should not work hard and do a good job. This is an attitude that we stay focused on what we do and where our blessing comes from. If we go out into the workplace with an understanding that our paycheck is actually signed by God and the amount is already determined and guaranteed, then we can spend our efforts in the workplace acting honestly and with integrity. We can appreciate the workplace as a place to exhibit good character and to sanctify God’s name, bringing honor to our family, our teachers, our people and to ourselves. In so doing, we will continue to receive the daily blessing of “bread in the morning with which to be sated” directly from God’s own hand. pjc
Rabbi Daniel Wasserman is the rabbi of Shaare Torah Congregation and the president of Gesher HaChaim Jewish Burial Society. This column is a service of the Vaad HaRabbanim of Greater Pittsburgh.