Shabbat Parashat Beshalah | 5765
The Manna- A Remembrance of Creation or Exodus?Harav Yosef Carmel
The foundation of Shabbat’s sanctity begins already at creation. Yet a further dimension of Shabbat emerges from the exodus from Egypt. In fact, both elements of Shabbat find explicit expression in the two presentations of the Ten Commandments. In the first set, the Torah says: “Remember the day of Shabbat to sanctify it …because for six days Hashem created … and He rested on the seventh day, therefore Hashem blessed the day of Shabbat and sanctified it” (Shemot 20: 7-10). The second mention is as follows: “Guard the day of Shabbat to sanctify it … you should remember that you were a slave in the Land of Egypt and Hashem liberated you from there … therefore He commanded you to make the day of Shabbat” (Devarim 5: 11-14).
Chazal have a tradition that even during the enslavement in Egypt, Shabbat played a special role in Bnei Yisrael’s lives. The midrash (Shemot Rabba 8:18) says that they had scrolls that would bring them joy from Shabbat to Shabbat, as they said that Hashem would redeem them. Those days when they would contemplate their liberation were the days of Shabbat, for on Shabbat they rested. When, in response to Moshe’s plea for freedom, Paroh decreed to make Bnei Yisrael’s workload heavier, it included taking away their rights to rest and spiritual enjoyment, which they had on Shabbat.
Another rabbinical tradition is that the commandment to keep Shabbat pre-dated Mt. Sinai and was given at Mara in the beginning of the sojourn through the desert. There, the Torah reports, “He presented them a statute and decree” (Shemot 15:25). The gemara (Sanhedrin 56b) explains that they were given ten mitzvot, seven that bind all Noachides, laws of the judicial system, Shabbat, and the obligation to honor parents. However, explicit mention of a specific obligation to refrain from work on Shabbat comes only in the section that deals with the manna, which sustained Bnei Yisrael in the desert. Hashem gave a double portion of manna on the sixth day so that Bnei Yisrael would not need or be allowed to collect it up on Shabbat. The Torah says, “The nation rested on the seventh day” (Shemot 16:30). The only parallel to this phrase in all of Tanach is, “[Hashem] rested on the seventh day” (Bereishit 2:2). Thus, the fact that the manna did not fall on Shabbat and that Bnei Yisrael were forbidden to go out to gather it is evidence of its connection to the remembrance of the creation. The Torah also commanded Moshe to store a portion of manna as a remembrance for future generations, who should “see the food that I fed them in the desert when I took them out of the Land of Egypt” (Shemot 16:32). This is a reference to the element of remembrance of the Exodus, which the manna shares with Shabbat.
Now we see why the mitzva of Shabbat was mentioned for the first time in the section dealing with the manna, as both share the significance of being reminiscent of both creation and exodus. Let us pray that we will merit to see the fulfillment of Chazal’s statement (Shabbat 118b) that if Bnei Yisrael will keep two Shabbatot properly they will immediately merit redemption.
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