A Test in Disguise by Josh Lehman


In Parashat Eikev, Moshe admonishes Bnei Yisrael for having complained immediately after Hashem extracts them from Mitzrayim. He states, “VaYomeru Aleihem Bnei Yisrael, Mi Yiten Muteinu BeYad Hashem BeEretz Mitzrayim BeShivteinu Al Se’er HaBasar BeAcheleinu Lechem LaSovah, Ki Hotzeitem Otanu El HaMidbar HaZeh LeHamit Et Kol HaKahal HaZeh BaRa’av,” “Bnei Yisrael said to them, ‘We would rather have died by Hashem’s hand in Egypt, where we ate meat and bread; now you have brought us out to this desert to kill us with starvation’” (Shemot 16:3). After their complaints, Hashem gives Bnei Yisrael Man, “HaMaachilcha Man BaMidbar . . . Lima’an Anotecha,” “That fed you in the desert with Man . . . In order to test you” (Devarim 8:16).

Many commentaries notice something unusual about the words, “Lima’an Anotecha,” “In order to test you.” How is Man, which looks like a blessing, a test? While Bnei Yisrael starve in the desert, Hashem gives them Man to save them! Rashi answers that the test refers to the laws that govern the Man, such as not hoarding extra Man for the next day, as well as collecting a double portion on Friday, among others. Seforno claims that the Man tested if Bnei Yisrael would still follow the Torah, as with Man, they do not need to worry about their livelihood.

The Maggid of Mezritch explains that when people face hardships, sickness, and mortal danger, they become more devout by attending Shul more often, praying more fervently, and giving large portions of Tzedaka. However, without troubles, they offer less gratitude to Hashem.

When a person is in poverty, he knows for what to pray and will not forget to Whom he is praying, Hashem. Although many do not need to worry about food and basic living necessities, they should not forget Who provided them with such luxuries. If this were so, they would fail Hashem’s test of the Man in the Midbar. Whether Bnei Yisrael are rich or poor, they should always rely on, pray to, and thank Hashem. Hopefully, we always will be able to remember this message in the future, recognizing Hashem’s involvement in our lives.

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