Thursday, January 20, 2011

[KollelH blog] [BELATED] Bishalach - What a pleasure! - the Manna

While going over Parshas HaMann, I could not help but remember my days in Yeshivah K'Tanah dreamily wondering about the flavors I would fancy for that day's lunch. Looking at it from a somewhat (I hope) more mature perspective.... I find myself doing the same thing! There is some fantasy-like enchantment that the story of the Mann seems to arouse within us (or at least in me) that perhaps can use a little clarifying. Though my taste has changed, the magical notion of the variety of flavors of the Mann still inspires me to daydream....

What seems so unreal about the Mann is not so much the lack of scientific explanation for the phenomenon, for Yitzias Mitzrayim and much of our history has had many equally impressive miracles. What is so unique about the fabulous flavors of the Mann is that it seems very uncharacteristic of our Torah which speaks of " פת במלח תאכל" - "Bread & salt you shall eat." To compliment the Mann about its unlimited tongue tantalizing potential seems, at best, somewhat materialistic if not absolutely childish!

To make matters worse, Chazal tell us "לא ניתנה תורה אלא לאוכלי המן" - That the Torah was specifically given to the people who ate the Mann. This seems like an outright contradiction to the minimalistic approach of acquiring the Torah through pas bamelach!

Why was it necessary to provide such a surreal fantasy-land experience for the sustenance of Klall Yisrael in the midbar? Though one may argue to say that Hashem wanted to prevent future complaints about the food, we know the complaints continued later anyway so this was probably not G-D's intent.

The R' Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin writes (צדקת הצדיק רסב) that there are different forms of 'food' for the three parts of a person; גוף, נפש, ונשמה . The גוף - the body, gets its sustenance from simple matter, such as carbohydrates, proteins and other nutrients found in regular food. The נשמה - the lofty and holy soul, is sustained by providing it with spirituality, such as Limud HaTorah and fulfilling Mitzvos.
However the נפש, which is (actually quite hard to describe) the energy of life that actually makes us feel lively or 'dead', is fed by something else entirely. Its sustenance is...... PLEASURE. This is illustrated well by the difference of liveliness felt in ourselves when he hear wonderful news or, G-D forbid, a tragedy. An even better example of this, though, is of two patients recovering in a hospital. Both can be receiving the same exact nutritional diet prescribed by their physicians. However, we know that the patient who enjoys his meal or is humored with good company will almost definitely recover quicker and better than his counterpart. This is due to the vital nutrient of pleasure offered to the נפש.

[It is for this reason, says R' Tzadok, that the joy and pleasure associated with mitzvos or aveiros have such an impact upon us. We are feeding and living off of those acts! In this manner, any aveirah we draw pleasure from has the similar severity to eating non-kosher food; timtum halev. It is because of this, that yesurim - pain, has the cleansing attribute that we call "kapparah'. The suffering one has, G-D forbid, actually and noticeably diminishes that liveliness. In this regard even a minor frustration, is, on a smaller scale, considered a form of 'death'. The implications of this add great importance to simchas hamitzvos and kabolas yesurim (lo aleinu).]

This may explain the need for salt at the table of even the most simple of meals. We cannot ignore the needs of the spirit for at least some level of basic taste and pleasure in our food. Therefore the Mishnah includes salt - פת במלח - even in the simplest diet.

With this in mind we can understand the uncharacteristic importance placed on the taste [and the many other wonders (see the medrashim)] of the mann. Since the mann was not food made of regular physical matter, to feed the body, as chazal refer to it as the nourishment of the Angels, it had to offer an enormous amount of pleasure, to energize and enliven the spirit. To keep Klall Yisrael alive in the vast and somewhat depressing desert the mann had to nourish their נפש without ANY dissappointment! Any boredome or displeasure  would greatly effect its ability to nourish them.

Perhaps this great level of enjoyment and happiness, which was free from any physical properties, was the reason for לא ניתנה תורה אלא לאוכלי המן . This was the true fulfillment of  אין השכינה שורה, אלא מתוך שמחה של מצוה - G-D's presence resides only within an environment of spiritual joy of mitzvos.

Enjoy your Shabbos!

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 1/13/2011 01:05:00 AM

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