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   by Jacob Solomon

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When the Israelites received the manna for the first time…

Moses instructed the Israelites: "Don't leave any of it over for the next day". But they did not obey Moses. They did leave some of the manna over, which became wormy and malodorous. And Moses because angry with them (16:19-20).

The Torah emphasizes that the Israelites had disobeyed Moses, even though it is quite obvious that they had gone against his wishes by leaving the manna over.

The Ohr Hachayim implies that partly happened because of the way that Moses conveyed G-d's communicated instructions. For the text does not say that Moses told the Israelites in G-d's name not to leave the manna over, but simply that Moses instructed the Israelites not to do so. This could have been understood as Moses imposing his own rules. Had they been given in G-d's name, they would have been obeyed.

This contrasts with his next recorded words with the Israelites, on reporting the double-portion of manna that fell on the day before Shabbat.

This time Moses heavily emphasized G-d's command: "This is what G-d commands. Tomorrow is the Sabbath, the holy day of rest… there will none tomorrow". Nevertheless, some people went out to gather manna on the seventh day, and there was none was to be found (16:23-27).

Thus in the first instance, Moses instructed without mentioning G-d's name. There was some disobedience. And in the second instance, Moses instructed with a heavy emphasis on G-d: "This is what G-d commands". And there was still some disobedience.

Perhaps this is why in the next verse where G-d exasperates to Moses: "How much longer do you (you in the plural) refuse to listen to My instructions and My laws?" Moses seems to be very much included. For G-d is simultaneously criticizing the Israelites, and Moses. He castigates the Israelites because they should have not left the camp to search for manna on the Holy Sabbath. He castigates Moses for over-emphasizing G-d to such a degree that he undermined his own authority in doing so. For "This is what G-d says" in effect emphasized: "These are not my orders, they are G-d's".

The correct way in communicating to the Israelites the observance of the Sabbath and Festivals is brought much later on. "Moses communicated the festivals of G-d to the Israelites" (Lev. 23:43). Here, G-d's name was incorporated subtly, to the right effect - striking maximum impact between G-d the Creator and Moses the Law-giver.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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