Shabbat Parashat Beshalach| 5766
Shabbat - The Crown of All Creations
Not only must the falling of the man, which sustained Bnei Yisrael in the desert, have been a shocking event for those who experienced it, but it was also related to them and to us by the Torah in a surprising way. First Bnei Yisrael were told to collect an omer of man; then they were told not to leave any over. Later they were surprised to have collected two omers on Friday. Then they were told that it was because of Shabbat and that they should leave over man. On Shabbat morning they found out that they should not go out to collect man, which would not fall on Shabbat. Why didn’t Moshe spell out all of the rules in advance and spare them the confusion? Let us also point out a “stylistic” peculiarity in this section. The Torah (Shemot 16:35) mentions that BneiYisraelate the man for 40 years. Although Tanach contains many prophesies about the future, it is very rare for the narrative to describe in past tense events that were well in the future at the time being discussed. Why does the Torah do this?
Let us start with the first question.The Ibn Ezra says that Hashem wanted to keep the events of that Shabbat a secret. The Ohr Hachayim explains further that Hashem wanted Bnei Yisrael to find out about Shabbat’s special status in regard to the man directly from Hashem. But why is that important?
The Torah tells of many miracles that took place over the years. Almost all of the miracles were short-lived, so that they were glitches in the course of nature, not changes in nature. The man was a rare exception, and to highlight this fact, the Torah stressed from the outset that the miracle of man wouldlast for 40 years in the Israelite encampment. One could thus view the falling of the man as a mini-creation of sorts. This was a proper opportunity to have Bnei Yisrael experience on some level the place of Shabbat in creation. On the original Shabbat, the whole cosmos must have experienced some profound kedusha, when creation ceased, and its impact echoes on more subtly ever since. So too, Hashem put into the creation of the “natural phenomenon” of man that it would give expression to the uniqueness of the “rest” on Shabbat by the double portion followed by the absence of man.
Had Bnei Yisrael been taught the laws of Shabbat and man in advance, they might have seen the double portion on Friday as a technical provision to facilitate the halachic observance of Shabbat. If our thesis is correct, Hashem wanted the miracle within a miracle of double portions and no portions of man to serve as evidence that Shabbat is an integral part of creation, even later mini-creations. It thus also served as a reminder of the place of the original Shabbat of creation. This gives added meaning to Rashi on Bereishit 2:3, describing the original Shabbat, saying that Hashem sanctified Shabbat through the man. Rashi is not just mentioning a historical curiosity, but tells how a new nation, just receiving the mitzva of Shabbat, experienced Shabbat’s sanctity as the crown of creations, old and new.
May we be zocheh to experience Shabbat to the fullest extent we can.
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