Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog
 Printer Friendly


One of the great fantasies of human beings is the search for a miracle food that will heal our ills, prolong our lives and prevent us from gaining weight, no matter how much of it we consume. In addition, we want this food to be appetizing in appearance and taste. Presently there is no food known to mankind that fits this description, and there hasn’t been since our ancestors were expelled from the Garden of Eden. We have been promised by experts – those who are always longer on promises and predictions and shorter on actual results – that science is on the verge of producing a pill that can be taken once a day and will provide all necessary nourishment for our daily existence.

I know that this does not sound too appetizing, but it certainly would make life simpler and give us more spare time during the day. Of course, this would destroy all businesses associated with growing, producing and marketing food products worldwide, not to mention all restaurants, but how can we, in good conscience, oppose progress? So, if this miracle food in the form of a pill is ever actually developed, I am certain that there will be many governments in the world that will demand and enforce its usage amongst its population. But alas, this miracle food remains only just over the horizon, so we still have to eat our spinach in order to survive and function.
There was once a time in human history that such a miracle food existed and nourished millions of people for decades. Naturally, I am referring to the miraculous manna from Heaven that sustained the Jewish people during its forty-year sojourn in the desert of Sinai. This miracle food had many characteristics associated with it. Though, in its original raw state, it looked to be a milky white substance with a honey flavor to it, and it was extremely malleable. It could be shaped, cooked, fried, boiled or baked. And it had the unique quality that it could adjust its taste to whatever the eater wished it to be. It was filling yet it produced no human excrement. It certainly was the magic pill searched for by food scientists for ages on end.
But it could not be stored away or frozen for later consumption, as it turned rancid and wormy at the end of each day. It arrived every day fresh and new six days a week with a double portion arriving on Friday to suffice for Shabbat as well. It was a food granted, so to speak, from God Himself to the Jewish people, and it was the main spiritual as well as physical sustenance of Israel during their time in the desert of Sinai. Its existence as a miracle food was apparent to all. And Moshe constantly reminds the people of the miraculous nature of the manna.
What I always find striking is that this miracle food did not find universal popularity amongst the Jewish people. The biblical narrative is replete with numerous incidents where the Jewish people complained loudly and bitterly about the manna. A basic theme in the Torah that runs throughout all their complaints is the fact that the manna was a miraculous food! The human appetite is for meat and fish, vegetables and even pickles, not for miracles.
Miraculous food takes us out of our comfort zone, and instead of being grateful, the Jews were disturbed and even resentful. We surmise that miraculous food is bland tasting to the human palate, for it implies that we are not in control of our own diet, let alone of the course of human history and events. Miracle food contains elements of contradictory behavior on the part of those eating and benefiting from it.The nature of human beings is to want a free lunch, and everyone realizes that a lunch of miracle food can never be free. The miraculous showbread that existed in the Temple in Jerusalem was such that even one morsel sufficed to remove any hunger from the body. But, it never satiated the soul of the priests who ate it, because it was too miraculous for them. So, I am convinced that this magic nutritional pill will not ever be found because deep down in our hearts, we do not want it to exist.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

Subscribe to our blog via email or RSS to get more posts like this one.