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The Manna - Enhancing Belief & Trust in G-d

The Torah portion of Beshallach recounts the story of the heavenly food that nurtured the Jewish people in the desert for 40 years, until they arrived at the border of Canaan.

The Tur states1 that it is beneficial to recite the passage about the manna daily. The salutary effect of this repetition is twofold:

a) It strengthens belief2 in G-d, helping man realize that all his sustenance derives from Providence. This was clearly evident with the manna: human activity had absolutely no effect on the amount G-d deemed fit to provide each individual — “the one who had taken more did not have any extra, and the one who had taken less did not have too little.”3

b) It helps strengthen man’s trust4 in G-d. Not only is a person prompted to recognize that his subsistence derives from G-d, but equally important, man comes to rely on G-d, trusting that He will provide. The daily collection of manna amply developed this aspect of trust, for G-d provided it on a constant and ongoing basis. Thus Jews were able to become aware of the fact that every living thing relies completely on G-d for its food.

Although belief in G-d and trust in Him seem to be similar, they are two different traits, each possessing qualities that the other lacks. What are the major differences between these two attributes?

Belief is a constant — it is the nature of the Divine soul to express an innate belief in G-d. For example, the absolute confidence that one’s sustenance will be provided by G-d is found within every believer at all times; it makes no sense to say a man believes this only while actually earning his livelihood.

But while belief is unceasing, it is peripheral, and does not necessarily translate into action. Thus the Gemara5 informs us that it is possible for a thief to pray that his thievery will be successful; the purity of his faith is not affected by the impurity of his deeds.

In contrast, man’s trust in G-d is aroused only in times of need.6 Yet although man’s trust is not in the same constant state of revelation as is his belief, when trust is aroused it penetrates every fiber of his being.

This will be better understood by offering a more acute example:

When a person finds himself — Heaven forfend — in a life-threatening situation and sees no way of surviving by natural means, he will not despair, for he trusts that G-d will help him, since He is the Master of nature and able to change it at will.7

The ability to put one’s trust in G-d, to be confident that He will rescue one from extreme difficulties — “natural” physical reality notwithstanding — indicates that such trust completely permeates a person.

Moreover, this very trust serves as the vessel that draws down Divine assistance and blessing:

When a Jew displays absolute trust in G-d and is confident that G-d will release him from his dire straits — although this seems to fly in the face of reason — this causes G-d to act toward this individual in a like manner; G-d helps that person by freeing him in a supernatural manner.

This also explains how it is possible for man to possess such absolute trust in G-d: Since we know that G-d responds to man measure for measure,8 we are able to feel certain9 that by placing our implicit trust in G-d, He will surely help us in our time of need.

Based on Likkutei Sichos XXVI, pp. 95-97.

Waging War Against Amalek

At the conclusion of the portion Beshallach ,10 the Torah relates that Moshe appointed Yehoshua to lead the Jews against the attacking Amalekites. During the entire battle Moshe’s hands were raised in prayer that the Jews be victorious. As long as Moshe’s hands were raised, the Jews prevailed.

The Torah goes on to say that when Moshe’s arms grew weary, a stone was taken and placed under him. Rashi11 comments: “Because he was sluggish in performing the commandment [of leading the Jews in battle] and appointed another in his stead, his hands became heavy.”

Why does the Torah tell us that Moshe’s hands grew heavy as a result of his slothful attitude — something entirely uncomplimentary — when the Torah does not even speak directly of the stigma of an unclean animal? It seems inappropriate for the Torah to speak badly of Moshe, the “select of mankind.”

Herein lies an invaluable lesson to all Jews in all places and times with regard to their spiritual battle with the Amalekites of every generation.

Amalek was only able to affect the Jews who straggled so far behind spiritually that as a result of their sins they were evicted from the Jewish encampment and the Clouds of Glory.12 Those who remained within the camp were not at all affected by the Amalekites.

In our times as well, most Jews find themselves spiritually within the “Jewish camp,” within the framework and protection of the “Clouds of Glory” of Torah and mitzvos , which protect them from all ill winds13 — especially from Amalek’s frigid attitude toward Torah and mitzvos.14

There are, however, Jews who for whatever reasons find themselves “on the outside” — their lifestyle is not yet wholly in keeping with Torah. Amalek — whose numerical equivalent is “doubt”15 — is therefore able to attack them by causing them to doubt G-d’s limitless ability, and by making them “cool” towards matters of holiness.

It is therefore possible that a Jew who finds himself “within the encampment” should question his relationship with those outside, reasoning that since they have no connection with him, he doesn’t want anything to do with them.

Such an individual might well think that leaving his warm nest of Torah and mitzvos to search for Jews lost in the wasteland of doubt is out of the question.

Herein is the lesson provided by the first war the Jews had to wage after their exodus from Egypt, their battle with Amalek:

When Amalek starts up with a Jew who is “outside the encampment,” even if his being there is a result of his own misdeeds, the Jews “within the camp” must leave it in order to protect their weaker brother. In fact, only G-d-fearing Jews have the ability to vanquish Amalek. Thus we find that it was Yehoshua, an individual “who never left the tent”16 of Torah, who was placed in charge of the battle.

The Torah goes further: Even Moshe, who essentially led the whole war — it was he who appointed Yehoshua as his emissary to lead the battle, and it was Moshe who spiritually led the fight by praying for the welfare of the Jewish people — should have participated in the actual battle. His failure to do so was considered slothfulness.

Herein is a lesson for even the greatest: Spiritual participation in the ongoing battle against Amalek is not enough. Merely praying for the welfare of those attacked by Amalek, or sending one’s emissary, is neither adequate nor acceptable; the person himself must do whatever is necessary to keep his fellow Jews from the clutches of Amalek.

Compiled from Likkutei Sichos , Vol. XXI, pp. 89-99.

1. Orach Chayim 1; also in Shulchan Aruch ibid. sub-section 5.
2. See commentary of Beis Yosef on Tur ibid.; Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein, Me’hadura Kamma 1:8.
3. Shmos 16:18.
4. Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein, Me’hadura Tenyana 1:8.
5. Berachos 63a.
6. See Nesivos Olam of the Meharal, beginning of Nesiv HaBetachon.
7. See Rabbeinu Yonah , quoted in Kad HaKemach entry Betachon. See also Likkutei Sichos III , p. 833.
8. See Mishnah Sotah (8b).
9. See Chovas HaLevavos introduction to Shaar HaBetachon.
10. Shmos 17:8-13.
11. Ibid., verse 12.
12. See Devarim 25:18 and commentary of Rashi there.
13. See Mechiltah, Beshallach on verse 13:21.
14. See Torah Or , 85a and onward, Ma’amar V’Hayah Ka’asher Yarim 5680 ch. 3.
15. Sefer HaMa’amarim 5679 p. 294; 5709 pp. 40, 65.
16. Shmos 33:11.



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