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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 8, v. 3: "Va'y'ancho va'yari'vecho va'yaachilcho es hamon" - And He caused you pain and He caused you to hunger and He fed you the manna. How do these three concepts flow?

1) The bnei Yisroel only derived the pleasure of taste from the manna, but not the visual pleasure of seeing a variety of food. This was their complaint "ein kol bilti el hamon eineinu" (Bmidbar 11:6). They considered it as if they had no food from the monotony of always seeing manna. Similarly we find by Yaakov in his old age when he was blind that he requested of Eisov to bring him food and prepare it. Yaakov expressed himself, "Va'assei li MATAMIM" (Breishis 27:4). He said, "Prepare for me something TASTY," as he was blind and was limited to only the taste enjoyment of food and not the visual enhancement. (Medrash Hagodol parshas Toldos)

2) And He caused you pain through your difficult journey, as is written in T'hilim 102:24, "Inoh va'derech kochi." And He caused you to hunger by restricting you to a kosher diet. Only after stopping to eat non-kosher food are you ready to imbibe the heaven sent manna (Rabbeinu Bachyei) 3) Alternatively, He caused you to hunger so that you would totally use up any vestiges of earthly food, and only then would you be ready for the food of celestial beings, the manna. We find that Moshe in preparation for ascending to heaven also separated himself from all worldly pursuits including food for six days, as is written, "Va'y'cha'sehu he'onon sheishes yomim" (Shmos 24:16). (Rabbeinu Bachyei)

4) He caused you pain and hunger by feeding you manna whose default taste has the flavour of honey and oil, as is written "V'taamo k'tzapichis biDVOSH" (Shmos 16:31), and "K'taam l'shad ha'SHO'MEN" (Bmidbar 11:8). The purpose of this limited diet was to purify you spiritually and to weaken your evil inclination. (Alshich Hakodosh)

5) He caused you pain and hunger through your lack of security of not having "bread in your larder." Hashem fed you manna which fell on a daily basis and if left over from one day to the next would totally spoil (Shmos 16:20). (Ramban and R"I of Vienna)

6) The manna did not satiate people as it was a light quasi-spiritual food. This was the complaint of the people when they said "v'nafsheinu kotzoh ba'lechem haklokeil" (Bmidbar 21:5). This is quite similar to the explanation of the Alshich Hakodosh in #4. (Ibn Ezra)

7) He caused you pain and hunger by having you enslaved in Egypt and then having to travel in the desert. People who have suffered these experiences and deprivations cannot eat the same foods as one who has not gone through these experiences. A regular diet could be devastating for those with a weakened constitution. Hashem therefore fed you manna, which is perfectly suited for even those who are weakened. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh) 8) It is prohibited to derive benefit from something that was created through a miracle. This prohibition is lifted, as are most, when there is a need to use the object to alleviate a danger to one's life. Only because Hashem caused you pain and hunger and your lives were endangered were you allowed to eat the manna. (Nachal K'dumim on parshas B'shalach) 9) The gemara Yoma 75a relates that there are seemingly contradicting verses indicating that the manna fell close to people's homes and far away. Also there seem to be contradictions in verses regarding how prepared the manna was for consumption. The gemara answers that according to one's piety, the manna that was his portion fell and was prepared. If one was very devout, the manna would fall just outside his home and would be ready for consumption. If one was sinful the manna fell further away and required grinding, etc. before being edible. This situation was very fluid, changing daily if someone's level of mitzvoh observance changed. If someone sinned and his next allotment of manna fell far away, he was very embarrassed to go far afield to fetch it.

Since there was no saving of manna from one day to the next, he would either have to swallow his pride and make the long trek for his manna or simply go hungry. Many opted to go hungry. This is the meaning of "and He caused you pain and hunger." This concept might be the source for a well-known Yiddish expression: "Men shtarbt nisht fun hunger. Men shtarbt fun bushoh." No one starves from hunger, only from emarrassment.

The Paa'nei'ach Rozo and R"I from Vienna say that these words of our verse were an indication to Esther to suggest to Mordechai to proclaim a three day fast and that in that merit they would overpower Homon. "Va'yaancho" on the first day of the fast, "Va'yari'vecho" on the second day, and on the third day, "Va'yaachilcho es HOMON." The letters of the word HAMON without their vowels can be read HOMON.

Ch. 8, v. 3: "V'lo yodun avosecho" - the gemara Kidushin 38a says that there was the taste of manna in the matzos that our ancestors took with them from Egypt. If so, why does our verse say that the manna was not known by the parents of the people Moshe was addressing? The Ramban answers that the word "avosecho" refers to the three Patriarchs. He adds that this is clearly stated in the M.R. Bmidbar 1:2. The Meshech Chochmoh answers by pointing out that there is a letter Nun at the end of "yoduN" which does not usually appear at the end of this word. He says that grammarians explain that an extra letter Nun at the end of a verb indicates a diminutive of that word.

Thus our verse is saying that those who ate the manna and even the previous generation that left Egypt had at least a limited knowledge of the manna, but "avosecho," the generations before those who left Egypt did not have even this limited exposure to manna.

Ch. 8, v. 4: "Simlos'cho lo volsoh mei'o'lecho" - Why didn't their clothes deteriorate?

1) The Ibn Ezra says that there was no miracle of exceptional durability. The verse means that they had so much clothes with them that they took along with them when they left Egypt, that they were able to change often and had no shortage.

2) Alternatively, he offers that because they ate manna they did not sweat. This was the cause of their clothes having longevity.

3) The Ramban strongly disagrees with the Ibn Ezra, claiming that even if one were to place a garment onto a pole and leave it there for a while, it would deteriorate. Surely in forty years it would be a heap of shreds. Rabbeinu Bachyei adds that just constant wear for forty years sans sweat would cause garments to fall apart. The Ramban explains that the verse seems to indicate that the bnei Yisroel merited having clothes that lasted by virtue of a miracle, in response to their complying with Hashem's mitzvos.

4) Rashi says that their clothes lasted because the clouds of glory rubbed (washed) and ironed their clothes.

5) The GR"A in A'deres Eliyohu says that since the bnei Yisroel drank from the wellspring of Miriam they did not sweat, and the clothes lasted.

Ch. 8, v. 8: "Eretz chitoh ...... eretz zeis shemen u'dvosh" - The Torah could have incorporated all the species under one heading of "eretz." Yet the verse splits the seven species into two lists, divided by the word "eretz."

The gemara Brochos 41b derives from this the order of which items get a priority in having a blessing made over them. However, to understand the splitting into two groups of species on a simple, non-halachic derivation level, the Meshech Chochmoh says that the bnei Yisroel had no olives or dates in Egypt. He proves this from Bmidbar 20:5. The bnei Yisroel complained "V'lomoh he'elisunu miMitzrayim ...... lo m'kome zera u's'einoh v'gefen v'rimon." We see that they complained for lack of figs, grapes, and pomegranates. The reason they did not complain about a lack of olives and dates is because they had none in Egypt either. When they were advised that Eretz Yisroel produces the seven species abundantly, there was a different level of appreciation for olives and figs, which they did not have all the years they were in Egypt, from the level of appreciation for the other species. Therefore the Torah separates the species into two groups.

A few points that could be raised with this are:

1) It seems that they had an abundance of olives, as they had oil for the menorah and for the libations of the Korban Tomid in the desert. See the Ramban on Bmidbar 4:16.

2) According to the Meshech Chochmoh the latter group is of primary value while the former group is relegated to secondary status. The gemara Brochos 41b gives halachic prominence to the first group, albeit there is an alternating factor in the priority of blessings.

3) Why would the lack of olives and dates in Egypt be a reason for greater appreciation for the next generation of bnei Yisroel? They were the ones who were told the good news of the 7 species and they had none of those species growing in the desert.

4) We find that they came upon 70 date trees in Shmos 15:27. However this can easily be answered, as this was probably just a one-time happening.

Perhaps with the insight of the Meshech Chochmoh himself on the above quoted verse in parshas Chukas (20:5) we can answer his question in the reverse manner. The following is the insight of the Meshech Chochmoh as it was brought in Sedrah Selections parshas Chukas-Bolok 5760:

Ch. 20, v. 5: "Lo m'kome zera u's'einoh v'gefen v'rimone" - Since this was a complaint about the lack of fruit types that the bnei Yisroel were looking forward to upon entering Eretz Yisroel, why did they leave out "zeis shemen u'd'vash," olives and honey-dates, which are also among the species that grow in abundance in Eretz Yisroel? The Meshech Chochmoh answers that although it was wrong for them to complain, they did not use fabricated claims. The flavours of oil and honey were readily available to them in the manna, as the verse says, "V'taamo k'tzapichis biDVOSH" (Shmos 16:31), and "K'taam l'shad ha'SHO'MEN" (Bmidbar 11:8).

According to these words we can say that olives and dates were less appreciated by the bnei Yisroel, including the generation that would enter Eretz Yisroel, since they had the flavours of oil and honey in their daily manna.

All four questions raised above are easily resolved.

Perhaps a difficulty in Bmidbar 13:23 can be explained according to this line of thought. The verse says that the spies took back with them to the desert "V'eshkol anovim ...... umin horimonim umin ha'teinim." It is interesting to note that they took only of the fruit that is mentioned in the first grouping in our original verse, and not olives or honey-dates, which are the two fruits in the second group. Since the spies wanted all the bnei Yisroel to take note of the unusually large fruit of Eretz Yisroel and use this as a selling point to refrain from entering Eretz Yisroel (Rashi ad loc d.h. "va'yiso'uhu"), it is logical to say that they only brought fruit that would spark great interest. Since the taste of oil and honey was daily fare, they did not bother bringing olives or dates.

Perhaps another matter can be explained as well. Once again a dvar Torah written in a previous issue of Sedrah selections, Shlach 5759 is being brought:

Bmidbar Ch. 13, v. 23: "V'eshkol anovim ...... umin horimonim umin ha'teinim" -The Ari z"l writes that the bringing of "bikurim," the first ripened fruit, to the Kohein in Jerusalem, atones for the sin of the spies. Rabbi Menachem Ziemba Hy"d says that this is alluded to in the mishnoh Bikurim 3:1. It says that when a person notices that his fruit has begun to ripen, he should place a band on the first ripened fruit and say, "These are Bikurim." Although this applies to seven types of produce, the mishnoh gives us only three examples, figs, a cluster of grapes, and pomegranates, exactly the three types of fruit that the spies brought back to use as a proof that the bnei Yisroel should not attempt to enter Eretz Yisroel.

According to the Meshech Chochmoh in parshas Chukas that the bnei Yisroel were not as appreciative of olives and dates because they had those flavours in their daily manna, perhaps another answer to the limited choice of fruits mentioned in the mishnoh Bikurim can emerge. The Rambam in Moreh N'vuchim says that the reason for Hashem's giving us the mitzvoh of taking the four species on Sukos is so that we may show gratitude to Hashem that he has taken us from the desert, a very hostile and inhospitable environment where there is no growth of vegetation, and has brought us to a land that is replete with all sorts of growth, a very inhabitable land. We therefore take these four species of vegetation to demonstrate our appreciation. Applying this line of thought to the mishnoh in Bikurim, it seems appropriate to say that since the appreciation for fruit of which they had not even its taste, grapes, figs, and pomegranates, was greater than for that which they tasted in the manna, olives and dates, the mishnoh specifically lists only grapes, figs, and pomegranates.

Ch. 11, v. 12: "Meireishis hashonoh v'ad acharis shonoh" - We find the word "meireishis" lacking the letter Alef which always appears in the word form "reishis." It is well known that this alludes to the month of Tishrei being the first month of the year (Mishnoh R.H. 1:1), since the letters of "reishis" without an Alef are the same as Tishrei.

The Moshav Z'keinim says that the word "reishis" lacking an Alef alludes to the gemara Beitzoh 16a which says that a person's annual income is set on Rosh Hashonoh for the following year. However, what ever is spent for Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, Yom Tov, or Talmud Torah is not included in his allotment. What ever is spent on these matters is added to his budget. The first letters of these four are the same as "Reishis" without an Alef.

Please note that the Shitoh M'kubetzes on the gemara Beitzoh says in the name of the Ritv"o that this rule applies to expenditures for any other mitzvoh as well. The reason the gemara mentions only these four is because they each require a continuous outlay of money, and a person might feel that such expenditures will cut into his resources, but in truth Hashem will repay him for all mitzvoh expenses.



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