Parshas Beshalach-Torah Or-The purpose of the Mun

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Parshas Beshalach

Vayomer Moshe Achluhu Hayom…”

[Torah Or p. 130]

The Mamar of this week’s Parsha discusses the falling of the Mun. The Mun fell every single day and was prohibited from being kept from one day to the next. The only day a week on which the Mun did not fall was Shabbos. The eating of the Mun was not just a mere manner for Hashem to provide sustenance for the Jewish people. It was also a spiritual service through which the Jewish people merited having a relationship with Hashem and receiving the Torah. The verse states that Hashem gave the Jewish people the Mun in order to test whether they would follow the path of His Torah. What exactly was the challenge involved in receiving a daily meal prepared by G-d Himself, in which one was able to experience the greatest physical and spiritual pleasures? Furthermore, why did Hashem specifically choose this challenge to see if the Jewish people would keep His Torah or not? This leads to a discussion regarding the relationship of the Jewish people with the Torah. The Migaleh Amukos, one of the greatest Ashkenazi Kabbalists of the ages, states that every single Jew has a corresponding letter in the Torah. What is the meaning of this statement? In what way do the letters of the Torah correspond to one’s soul and what relationship do they share? How does this relate to the eating of the Mun? The Alter Rebbe brilliantly collates these ideas to bring out a true and meaningful understanding of the Jewish people’s relationship with the Torah and our obligations in serving Hashem daily.  


Explorations of the Mamar:

1.      Why did the Mun not descend on Shabbos?

2.      How was the Mun a trial and test for the Jewish people?

3.      How does each Jew have a corresponding letter in the Sefer Torah and what is its purpose and significance?

4.      Why was it forbidden to leave leftover Mun to be eaten the next day?


The Questions:

The verse states that Moshe told the Jewish people that the Mun would not fall on Shabbos, and hence they would receive a double portion on Friday. It remains to be understood why the Mun did not fall on Shabbos. All of the physical blessings of this world remain continuous even on Shabbos, and everything comes from above, as it states that a blade of grass does not grow until its angel hits it and commands it to grow. Thus, just as the blade of grass continues to grow on Shabbos, so too its spiritual source continues to work on Shabbos.[1] Therefore, why is the Mun different in that it specifically had to stop falling on Shabbos, due to the claim that Shabbos is a day of rest? Here is another query regarding the falling of the Mun altogether: The verse states, “This is being done in order to test you if you will walk in the path of my Torah or not”. This verse seems puzzling. What connection is there between keeping the Torah and eating the Mun? Likewise, why does the verse state, “Follow my Torah” rather than “fulfill my Torah”? To understand this, we must first introduce the connection between the Jewish people and the Torah.

Every Jew has a letter in the Torah-The meaning of a letter:

There are a total of 600,000 [possible[2]] letters written in the Torah and there are 600,000 general souls. The soul of every Jew has a root in one of these letters.[3] What is the meaning of this statement? How does having a root in a letter in the Torah have any significance, and what does it accomplish? The meaning of this is as follows: A letter of the Torah represents a certain Divine diffusion of G-dliness from the level of Soveiv to the level of Mimalei. It is for this reason that letters are metaphorically referred to as “horses,” as just like a horse carries a person to areas that he could not reach on his own within the same span of time, similarly the letters of the Torah draw down a great level of Elokus that cannot be reached on its own.[4] It is these letters of the Torah that are responsible for the continuous life and vitality of creations and it is these letters that bring creations into being [as it states, Hashem looked at the Torah and created the world]. These letters of the Torah do not receive this power of Elokus on their own, as it must rather be drawn down through the Jewish people. Each Jew has a specific letter in the Torah to which his soul corresponds, and it is his Avoda that draws down the Elokus into that letter, and subsequently allows the continuous existence of the world. It is for this reason that the Sages state [Taanis 3b], “Just as the world cannot exist without the directions of North and South, etc., similarly the world cannot exist without the Jewish people”. The reason for this is because it is the Jewish people that draw Elokus into the letters of the Torah and allow for the existence of the world to continue. This is also the inner meaning behind the Jews receiving the Torah on Har Sinai, as it was not merely an acceptance of the commandments from the Torah but an actual inner connection and relationship with the Torah and its powers. [Therefore, in the same way that if even one letter is missing in a Sefer Torah, the Sefer Torah is invalid, similarly if even one Jewish soul had been missing from Har Sinai the Torah would not have been given, as there would have been one letter that could not receive its Elokus from its corresponding missing soul.[5]]

Why the Jewish people merited the Torah:

This power that was given to the souls of the Jewish people was not simply due to them being handpicked for this purpose by Hashem, but was also a result of their hard labor in the slavery that they endured in Mitzrayim. The work they did in Egypt subdued the side of evil and gave them the merit to receive the Torah. This is the reason the Jewish people merited the Torah over the angels, who also made a claim to receive the Torah [see Shabbos 88b]. In truth, this merit of ours to receive the Torah and gain the relationship we have with its letters is continuous every day, as our Sages state, “Every day one must view oneself as if he left Egypt,” and, “The Torah is like new every day”. This means that each day, one must regain that merit for receiving the Torah through subjugating the side of evil and turning away from the lusts and desires of materialism towards the love of Hashem, as expressed in the verse, “with all your heart,” which is recited twice in the Shema daily.


Eating and then serving G-d with that strength subjugates the evil:

Just as we subjugated evil in Egypt, similarly we subjugate evil daily through eating foods that are rooted in the 70 angelic princes of the nations of the world, and then taking that energy and using it to serve Hashem. The body rids itself of the wastes of that food and sends all the nutrients to the blood to be used for service of G-d. Similarly, in prayer we refine our emotions and feelings of lust, directing the positive nutrients of our lust towards the love and longing for G-d in the Shema, and disposing of the negative love-waste in the blessing of Selach Lanu in the Shemoneh Esrei.  

The eating and prayer of the week versus Shabbos:

The abovementioned refinement of the side of evil is only accomplished during the meals and prayers of the week. However, on Shabbos there is no refinement necessary. Just as we rest on Shabbos from our physical labor and weekday activity, similarly in the spiritual realm we rest from work on refining the Kelipos. The reason for this is because on Shabbos everything returns back to its source, including the Kelipos, and hence on an internal, subconscious level, there are no Kelipos to be refined on Shabbos. It is for this reason that it is a Mitzvah to eat on Shabbos without the limit of Iskafya, and it is for this reason that we omit Selach Lanu in the Shemoneh Esrei of Shabbos. Rather, on Shabbos we are able to draw down pleasure, Oneg, from these actions of eating and prayer and do not need to deal with the evil.

The power to refine the evil, and receive the pleasure, derives from the Mun:

The abovementioned power found in the Jewish soul to refine the evil during the week and draw down the Oneg on Shabbos was given through the Mun. Regarding the Mun, it states that it was covered by a layer of dew. Dew falls daily and is independent of the service of man below. This is unlike rain, which requires man’s prayer to draw it down. This is because the spiritual root of dew is so sublime that it is above the ability of man to reach it through his service. Similarly, the Mun carried within it a level of G-dliness that is above the reach of the service of man. In Kabbalah, this concept is called an Isarusa Dilieila [arousal from above] that is above and beyond an Isarusa Dilisata [service of below]. It is this sublime level of G-dliness that gave the Jew the refinement and capability to refine the evil of the world and draw down the Oneg of Shabbos.

The test of the Mun:

The Mun fell as a test for the Jewish people. What was the challenge they faced with the Mun? It was as follows: The Mun was only allowed to be eaten on the same day that it fell. It was forbidden, due to a commandment from Hashem, to leave the Mun over into the next day. [In fact, Hashem made a miracle and caused all leftover Mun to be eaten by worms, even though the Mun did not contain any waste and hence did not rot.[6]] This was a true challenge for the Jewish people, as one cannot compare one who has enough food for several days to one who must worry anew each day for his food. Each day, the Jewish people had to wait for the new blessing of Mun to fall and could not rely on the previous day’s Mun. This in essence was a test for the Jewish people to see if they would follow in the path of Torah or not. This means that they were tested not only regarding whether they would keep the commandments of the Torah or not, but if they would treat the Torah as new each day, and draw down the new light of Elokus into the letters each day through their service of G-d by subjugating evil.

Why the Mun fell each and every day:[7]

Based on the above, one can also understand why the Mun had to fall every day. The Mun contained Elokus that was above the level of creations and above their reach of Avoda. It was a present from Hashem. When a person works for his bread, he can decide to work on one day on behalf of many days and have enough food to sustain him for a while. However, when receiving a present, one is solely dependent on the giver. The Mun was given by Hashem on a day-to-day basis. The reason for this is because the Mun contained within it the revelation of the Sefiros of Atzilus, each one in accordance with its day. On each day, a different Sefirah shines, and hence the Mun of each day contained the revelations of a different Sefirah. For this reason, one could not eat the Mun of a previous day on a later day, as the revelation of its corresponding Sefirah is no longer active within the worlds. [This is similar to the letters of the Torah, which draw down the G-dly vitality for the creations. This vitality is different each day, and hence requires a Jew’s Avoda each and every day to draw it down.]

Why the Mun did not fall on Shabbos:

It is also for the above reason that the Mun did not fall on Shabbos. On Shabbos, there is an elevation of all the inner aspects of the worlds while the external aspects remain the same. The external aspects refer to all the matters that are rooted in the external part of G-dliness, which come down through the Mazalos and angelic ministers. This includes all of the order of nature in this world, which derives and comes through these external aspects. It is for this reason that externally the world remains the same, and all of the natural order of growth and activity remains unchanged from the way it takes place during the week. However, the Mun derives from the internal aspect of G-dliness and experiences an elevation on Shabbos. This elevation means that the Elokus that was contained in the Mun becomes elevated on Shabbos and hence could not descend below as it did during the week. Furthermore, during the week, in order for the sublime level of G-dliness contained within the Mun to descend below and become invested within physical dough, it had to go through contractions to limit and define the G-dly light in relation to its now physical vessel. On Shabbos, however, Hashem rests from performing contractions towards levels that are rooted in the internal aspects of G-dliness. Hence the level of Elokus could not be contracted on Shabbos to enter into the physical Mun and therefore no physical Mun fell on Shabbos. 


Lessons of the Mamar:

·         From the Mun, we learn that when doing things of importance and inner meaning towards another person, it must be emphasized on a daily basis. Just as the Mun, which came from the inner aspect of G-dliness, had to come down each day anew, similarly one’s relationship and dedication to Hashem and His Torah must be emphasized daily. The love we expressed yesterday does not suffice for the needs of today. Our everyday service of G-d renews the Elokus found in the Torah, which is responsible for the daily rejuvenation of the creations.  




[1] See Sefer Hamamarim 5568 p. 28

[2] There are not actually 600,000 letters in the Torah, but rather about 350,000. However, if all of the words were to be fully spelled out, including their Chaseiros and Yiseiros, etc, then this total would amount to 600,000 [as explained in other Mamarim of Admur.]

[3] The source for this statement in Admur is from the Megaleh Amukos [of Rav Nasan Nate Shapiro of the 1600s] Vaeschanan Ofen 186, brought also in Yalkut Reuveini Bireishis.

[4] See the Mamar “Lesusi” [Torah Or p. 126] for a lengthy explanation of this topic.

[5] Yalkut Reuveini, ibid, in the name of Migaleh Amukos

[6] See Ramban; Sefer Hamamarim 5672 2 p. 1086

[7] Based on Sefer Hamamarim 5672 2 p. 1062-1096; See there for a thorough analysis and discussion of the meaning of the words of Admur here. The explanations there have been imbued with the explanation written above.

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