Midreshet Amit


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The Test of the Mon

By: Rabbi Daniel Goldstein

The overall theme of Parshat Beshalach is the struggle Bnei Yisrael dealt with as they made their way from slavery to freedom. Whether feeling trapped at the sea, or hungry and in need of food, Bnei Yirael face the challenge of a new life at every turn. One such challenge was acclimating to the mon that Hashem sent them to eat. Indeed, the Torah actually states explicitly that the purpose of the mon was to test them: "Hashem said to Moshe, "Behold, I will make bread rain from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather enough for each day, that I may test them [to see] if they will walk in [the way of] My teaching or not (Shemot 16:4)

So the mon was a test—but what is the test testing? The Meforshim debate:

Rashi comments: "Whether they will keep the mitzvos dealing with it, that they not leave any of it [overnight] and that they not go out on Shabbos to gather [it]." Ramban rejects Rashi's interpretation. Ramban writes that "The mon itself was a trial to them, since they had no food the wilderness and were without recourse to any sustenance except the mon which they knew not before and had never heard of from their fathers." In other words, the nature of the test was not to test Bnei Yisrael's conduct. Rather, it was to see if they would be willing to follow Hashem despite the fact that He was introducing a new and unfamiliar way of life to them.

A third approach is offered by the Netziv. He explains that the nature of the test was not the commandments attached to the Mon, nor was it the unfamiliar nature of the Mon. Rather, "as it is known from Parshat Behaalotcha and the Gemara in Perek Yom HaKipurim that the delivery of the mon was different for each person according to the merit. And Hashem said that that judgment according to deeds will be rendered daily! Not like in future generations, when judgment is concealed through the natural order of the world, and a person's judgment is not known to him immediately. But with the mon, which was miraculous, judgment would come as a matter of course daily. " In other words, the test was a test of their consistency. The way the mon was delivered based on merit, and merit was reassessed from day to day. Thus, you could never rest on their laurels. They had to serve Hashem consistently—day in and day out—in order to ensure their mon delivery remained consistent as well.

Taken together, the three approaches serve as a guide for one who wants to serve Hashem. We have to be committed to observing the Mitzvot. We have to be open to leaving our zone of comfort and can not be afraid to engage new things, and we should do so with consistency.