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by Rabbi Yisrael Pesach Feinhandler
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And when the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, Man-hu (what is it?): for they knew not what it was, and Moshe said to them, It is the bread that Hashem gave you to eat.
The Vishnitzer Rebbe, Rabbi Chaim Meir Hagar, had many chassidim in various towns. In one of these towns lived an old shochet whose hands had begun to shake. People tried to tell him tactfully that it was time for him to stop practicing shechitah, which requires absolute precision, since his shaking hands could easily have invalidated the shechitah and made the animal unkosher. But this shochet refused to listen and claimed that there was no question about the kashrus of his shechitah.
One day, Rabbi Chaim Meir Hagar visited the town and stayed at the home of the shochet. The Rebbe was informed of the shechitah problem and was asked to speak to the shochet and convince him to leave his post. But upon hearing this request the Rebbe did not respond. His chassidim were puzzled at his strange silence, and no one could understand how their beloved Rebbe could be so casual about such a grave issue, one concerning the kashrus of the meat that everyone in the whole town had to rely on.
But the mystery was solved a few days later. The Rebbe remained town for Shabbos. When the Shabbos meal was over, he honored the shochet by handing him the cup of wine which is held during the bentsching. When the shochet took the cup, his hand shook and the wine spilled. Now everyone understood the subtle mean by which the Rebbe was conveying to the old shochet that his day as a shochet were over. Without any further discussion, the shochet announced to the Rebbe at the end of the Shabbos that he had decided to retire from his long career.
The shochet did not realize of his own accord that in Heaven it was decided that he had completed his task as a shochet. In marriage also it is very important that we realize what is destined from Heaven.
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's students asked, "Why did the manna not come down for the Israelites only once a year?"
He answered, "I will give you a parable to which you may compare it. There was once a king who had an only son. He provided his son sustenance once a year, and the son never came to visit his father, except for once a year. Then the king made a change and gave him his sustenance every day. This made the son come and see his father every day."
"The same applies to the Israelites. Someone who had four or five children was worried that perhaps tomorrow the manna would not come down and everyone would die. Therefore the Israelites would pray every day with kavanah in their hearts to their Father in Heaven.
"Another reason [the manna came down every day] was so that they could eat while it was still warm. An additional reason was so that they would not have to carry too much with them as they traveled."
Why do we assume that the son of the king would come to visit his father only once a year? What lesson can we learn from the manna's daily distribution? Why did they worry about whether the manna would come down the next day, when it came down every day without fail? What is the significance of the fact that they were saved from the burden of carrying it during their travels.
Even though the king's son certainly loved his father and wanted to visit him, different things came up in his life that made him forget his obligations. Therefore the father found a way to remind the son of his obligation, which was to provide him with his sustenance one day at a time That way the son had no choice but to visit his father daily, since if he did not come to his father, he would have had nothing to eat.
From this we can learn why human beings were created with the need to eat every day. G-d did not give us the capability of storing food in our bodies for long periods. Perhaps this was done to force us to recognize our dependence on G-d. We must pray to Him every day for sustenance, and this brings a person closer to G-d.
This also explains why a human being is born without so many of the Physical assets that G-d's other creatures are naturally endowed with. For instance, a person cannot survive without clothes, a shelter in which to live and a daily portion of food, while in general, animals do not have these pressing needs. Some animals can store food in their bodies for long periods of time, others spend their whole lives without shelter, and clothing remains a human peculiarity.
The human being was created in such a way that he needs constant help in many forms, and thus a person must regularly pray to G-d for assistance.
With this in mind, we can understand the reason for particular punishment which was given to the serpent for sin of enticing Adam and Eve to eat from the forbidden tree. This punishment was: "And dust you shall eat all the days of your life."1 At first glance, this might not seem to be a punishment at all, since dust is freely available in abundance, and the snake would therefore not have to expend any effort find his sustenance. But the truth is that by giving him sustenance so easily, it was as if G-d were saying to him: Take your food and get out of My sight. In other words, G-d wants nothing more to do with the serpent and therefore did not give him the opportunity to come close to Him through prayer.
Why were the Jewish people worried about whether the manna would come down the next day, when they saw it came down every day without fail? Our Sages say that the location at which the manna came down was determined according to one's spiritual status. Those who were righteous received it at their doorsteps, those on the middle level had to walk a little further within the limits of the Israelite camp to find it, a those who were not righteous had to search far and wide be they were able to find their portion. 2 Since people are prone sin, a father of a large family, for example, would worry about where he was worthy of receiving his portion of manna the next morning. This kept him constantly praying and asking mercy from G-d, so that his family should not suffer because his sins. We can imagine how fervently he must have pray since his children's lives depended on it.
The fact that they received manna every day, which saved them from the burden of carrying provisions on the road, shows the individual attention and concern that G-d gave the Jewish people in the desert. We should be aware that this same Divine Providence is also part of our lives. Every event in our lives is orchestrated by G-d. Our Sages say that if one puts his hand in his pocket, looking for something and does not find it In that pocket, and therefore must put his hand in his other pocket; even this minor inconvenience is preordained by Heaven so that this person will experience a measure of well-deserved discomfort enabling him to repent properly, and gain atonement for his sins.
All pain that comes to a person is planned by G-d. No one in the world can cause us pain unless consent for it was given from Above. Consent is not given unless we deserve that pain or need it for some spiritual purpose. Because the Jewish people did not deserve to have the extra burden of having to carry their provisions with them every day, a miracle occurred and new manna appeared on the earth every day.
In this midrash our Sages are also alluding to the fact that the way a person receives his livelihood is determined by G-d. If G-d decides that our parnassah should come with great effort, then we must work hard before we receive our bread. But if He decides that we shall receive it without any effort, then that will be the way in which we obtain it. It does not depend on our talents, but rather on our spiritual level combined with other calculations known only to Hashem. Since the Jewish people in the desert were righteous enough to deserve it, they were saved from the burden of carrying their food with them and were supplied daily with the nutrition they needed.
Discomforts in married life, as well any pain we feel, is preordained from Above. If your wife gets angry at you, or puts you to work on something you hate to do, or doesn't have dinner ready on time, this was planned by Heaven. Your wife just happens to be the messenger who conveyed that pain, but it was your own spiritual shortcomings that caused it to come about.
The same applies when a husband aggravates his wife. If he does not listen when you talk to him, or does not lift a hand to help you at home, or criticizes you constantly, his behavior was planned in Heaven. You should scrutinize your own spiritual situation, since he could not have caused you pain in any way if you were not deserving of it. The pain that you received is a reminder from Heaven to be a better person.
As we have mentioned before, any need that we have is an opportunity for us to pray and come closer to G-d. We should look at our marital needs in the same way. If there any conflict between a couple, this should be viewed as an opportunity to draw closer to G-d, because now we can ask Him to remove the conflict and restore peace and harmony just as we ask G-d for parnassah and for health, we should ask Him to help us have a good relationship with our spouses. We should ask Him to give us the knowledge and the strength to behave with patience and love, just as the Rebbe In the story above had patience with the shochet. Say to G--d Please instill in my heart love and patience for my spouse and help me to treat my spouse with great kindness, since I know that that is what You want from me, and I want to do Your will."
When prayer, love and patience are central elements in your Marriage, true happiness will follow.
1. Bereshis 3:14
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network