After the exodus from Mitzrayim and passing through the Yam Suf , the Torah tells us of the miraculous “Heavenly food” that sustained our entire Jewish Nation for forty years in the desert. “Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Behold I shall rain down for you food from heaven; let the people go out and pick each day’s portion on its day, so that I can test them, whether they will follow My teaching or not’.” Thus begins the Parsha of the Mann to which it is taught that whoever recites this parsha every day is assured that they will not lack sustenance. The following is an amazing true story of some of the many forms manna can take.
Levi married during his third year of learning in a ba’al teshuvah yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael and within the year he and his wife had the first of what was to be many children. After five years of marriage and their third child, the Six Day war was about to begin. Levi’s American parents requested the family return to the States for the duration of the war. Levi and his wife reluctantly agreed to leave and within a week landed in New York only to find himself embroiled in another type of “war”
After a few days of settling in the family, in a small rented apartment, Levi arose early one morning so as to have a proper amount of time for dovening and a leaning seder before beginning his pursuit of (parnosa) looking for a job. Soon after Shachris, a dignified stranger approached Levi and asked whether he said the Parsha of the Mann each day. The impressive looking man explained that it was written in the gemora Yerushalmi that whoever said the parsha of the mann every day was assured of sustenance.
Levi shyly admitted that he did not and had not even heard of this minhag. After the gentleman left, Levi began to consider his words as he wanted very much to believe this promise but the many earlier years in the secular world tended to make him skeptical about any phenomenon that could not be explained rationally. This was not a battle of physical prowess but a “inner war/struggle” of overcoming years of educational and sociological influences.
Nonetheless, Levi had a deep desire to bridge the seemingly large gap between his spiritual goals and his worldly perceptions. So before he left the shul, Levi opened the Chumash to the Parsha of the Mann and slowly began to read it. Someone raised in the religious community would have been able to complete this Parsha in about five minutes, but Levy who hadn’t learn his first words of Hebrew until he was twenty-four took nearly one half hour trying to be precise in the correct pronunciation of each letter and phrase while at the same time making a sincere effort to place the meaning of those words in his heart.
Amazingly within seconds of his finishing the Parsha another elderly man gently tapped Levi on the shoulder and after saying hello and introducing himself asked, “Young man, I see you are new to the schull, are you in need of a job?” Amazed Levi asked him what he had in mind. The gentle man told him that he had a small factory and could use some help at this time of the year. Levi was speechless. Within “toch kidei dibur” while the sounds of the parsha were still echoing from his lips and for the one and only time in his thirty years of life, he was approached with a job offer before he applied or for that matter even began to look for a job. Levi thanked him profusely, took his telephone number and said he would consider the kind offer.
Walking slowly back to his rented apartment, he contemplated these events, events that most people whom he grew up with would have allocated to a category called “serendipity” or coincidence and not given a further thought, but now he was deeply thinking about the timing of these events and the words of our Sages. That part of him that wanted to believe in – haskaka pratis – Divine intervention excitingly related the chain of mornings events to his family.
After breakfast, Levi began his efforts to look for a teaching job by beginning to call some of the local Yeshivas. Since it was in the middle of the school year, he didn’t expect that he would be able to get a full time job but would be happy even with a substitute position. Amazingly, the Aibishter’s plans for him were somewhat different. The principle of the very first Yeshiva Levi called, after hearing his articulate English and his educational background, offered him the possibility of a full time position for the remainder of the school year. It was just that morning, the principle offered by way of explanation, that he learned that one of his teachers was immediately moving out of the area. The principle invited Levi to a meeting and told him that if everything was agreeable he could begin that very day.
Levi may have began the day with a certain narrow mind-set but with these two and still further events would soon solidify a deep seeded respect and awe for words of our holy Sages. Just as he was about to leave for his teaching interview, the mailmen delivered their first letter to this new address. They quickly opened the envelope and gasped. Inside was a note which was from an aunt and uncle who explained that they could not recall whether they had sent a gift to Levi and his wife when their last baby was born several months before and added that if they had they should keep the enclosed check also for their needs. (True the letter was mailed a few days before but how many of you have received a nice size monetary gift on the first day you ever said the Parsha of the Mann. By now Levi and his wife, who had indeed already received a check from his aunt and uncle were now starting to feel overwhelmed and at the same time very comforted that “Someone” above was looking out and arranging for them with not only for jobs but even bonuses.
Hold on to your to hats, folks, for we are not done yet. A few minutes later, Levi decided to hitchhike to the Yeshiva. He watched several cars pass and finally a young religious man stopped his car and offered him a ride. As they drove Levi mentioned that he was on his way to begin his new job as an English teacher. The driver then struggled in broken English to ask Levi if he had any free time to tutor him. He explained that he was born in Eretz Israel and was now married and living here and really felt the need to learn better English. By now Levi was in sheer awe by the offer of yet another source of income and so he responded that he would be happy to do so if they could agree on a time and price. Levi took his number, and got out at his destination.
Within minutes of their meeting, the principle presented the conditions of employment, to which he agreed and that very day Levy began teaching his new class.
When Levi arrived home later that evening, he was bubbling with the news of his teaching job and his possible tutoring job and did not imagine that his wife would be anything other than a happy excited listener. That however was not the case. His wife “jumped in first” by saying: “Guess what? While you were gone I got a call from the principle of the local girl’s school. She had apparently gotten my name from one of our new neighbors.” Levi’s wife continued: “The principle said she was in desperate need of a substitute because her regular teacher needed to take an abrupt leave of absence.” Almost speechless yet at the same time full of thoughtful praise of the Creator for showing him that Manna can takes many forms, Levi realized that his previous skepticism was now a thing of the past and that “wars” can be won, if we cling One who created us.
P.S. – Oh by the way, Levi did take that tutoring job which continued twice weekly for more than six months and for the last thirty plus years he continues to recall these wondrous events especially as his is melodiously reading over the Parshas ha-Mann daily.
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