"Yahveh said to Moses: Behold, I shall rain down for you food from Heaven. Let the people
go out, and gather each day's portion on its day, so that I can test them, whether they will follow My teachings or not."
What is the real meaning of the word 'testing' and why should providing the people with their basic
needs be a test?
When Yahveh wondered if the Israelites will 'follow His teachings or not', He was referring to the
commandments involving the manna itself, i.e. that they leave nothing over to the next morning and that they not go out
on the Sabbath to collect it. Yahveh wished to see if they would understand that manna did not give them just privileges,
but also responsibilities.
Yahveh put the people in a situation of being totally dependent on Him. The manna was food that neither
they nor their ancestors were familiar with. It was given in an uninhabited wilderness, a place of 'snakes, serpent and scorpions'.
(Deuteronomy 8:15) The Israelites were given manna one day at a time, in such a way as to leave them worried about tomorrow,
lest it might not fall. Such a trial was severe, yet Yahveh wished to refine and strengthen them, to find out whether they
were loyal to Him even under difficult circumstances. The test was the very fact of being provided with a type of food
they did not know and in a place they did not know, for the purpose of bringing them closer to Yahveh, by daily recognizing their
dependence on Him though the manna.
Abraham, too, came closer to Yahveh through his test, when Yahveh commanded him to prepare Isaac for a sacrifice.
(Genesis 22:1) The 'Manna' ~ daily portion, supplied each and every Israelite according to the individual
needs: "Whoever took more had nothing extra, and whoever took less was not lacking; everyone had gathered
according to his needs." Exodus 16:18
This daily experience was a great miracle. The idea that Yahveh
supplies people according to their physical and spiritual needs is taught by the following story:
A poor man came before Raba (the Rabbi). Raba welcomed him warmly and asked, "What would you like to
eat?" "A fat chicken and aged wine" he would settle for nothing less. Knowing that the man was not at all wealthy and
he depended upon charitable donations from the community, Raba asked "How can you allow yourself such a menu?"
The pauper replied, "Do I partake from the table of the community?
I eat at the Almighty's table" as it is written: "Everyone's eyes look longingly to You, and You provide them their food in
his time." Psalm 145 The beggar noted that the verse uses the singular form, "in his time" implying that
the Almighty supplies each individual with his needs at the proper time.
Suddenly, a guest appeared at Raba's door. Raba had not seen his sister in thirteen years, and out
of the blue she came for a visit. She didn't come empty-handed - she brought with her a fat chicken and aged wine. Raba asked,
"What is this? Why did this happen, that all of a sudden my sister comes with a fat chicken and aged wine? I have already
spoken too much! Go and eat."
This story is hard to follow. Even if the fat chicken and aged wine had arrived just at the moment that
the pauper had asked for them, Raba would have better use for the food than give it away to a person whose real needs could
have been satisfied with far simpler food. The chicken and wine were for Raba, not for the beggar…
The lesson from the manna suggests an answer. Every person has different physical and spiritual needs,
catered for by his Maker. The sudden timely arrival of the food was not a coincidence, but Yahveh saying to Raba that he had
judged the beggar too hastily. The Israelites, like the beggar, got closer to Yahveh through the Manna. The beggar's path
and the source of his 'spiritual uplift, was the fatted chicken and old wine!