On Tuesday of the week of Shabbat Beshallach, it’s favorable for one’s livelihood to read the Torah portion about the Giving of the Manna in the Wilderness [Exodus 16:4-36] twice in Hebrew and once in the Aramaic Targum [Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Riminov; d. 1815]. Those without access to the Aramaic may read the passage in the vernacular.” [1]

This year (2012), “Tuesday of the week of Shabbat Beshallach” is Tuesday, 1/31/12 (tomorrow, if you’re reading this on the day it’s posted).

Other sources encourage reciting these verses daily, all year.

What was “manna” (“ha-mahn,” in Hebrew)?

It was the food that was miraculously given to us during our 40 years’ wander-ing in the wilderness after leaving Egypt.

A sealed jar of it actually stood next to the aron in the “Holiest Place” in the Mishkan and in Solomon’s Temple. 

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Riminov was an early Hasidic rebbe.

Why does he teach us to recite these verses from Torah (3) times?

On one level, reading the verses at all reminds us that G-d can provide for us more than amply, even when outer conditions — appearances — don’t seem to support the possibility or probability.

Reading them (3) times seems to say: Impress this deeply on your thinking. For the same reason, the rabbis of the Talmud taught us to say “Ashrei” multiple times a day, primarily for the verse from Ps. 145: “You open Your hand and satisfy every living thing with favor.” 

G-d provides.

Our “eyes” and “ears” might tell us differently; inner thoughts might constantly urge us to fear or worry. Against this, the rabbis teach: By repeating specific verses, raise firmly in your mind the thought that G-d takes care of us, always.

But as a Hasidic teacher, the Riminover had something additional in mind, too:

G-d fills us and surrounds us. In truth, only G-d exists at all. G-d is our “spiritu-al environment,” within and around us.

More than an abstract truth, G-d is a fact of our existence.

And being “alive” in a way far beyond what it means for us to be “alive,” G-d is responsive. Air surrounds and fills us, but is unaware and indifferent to what we say and do. G-d, surrounding and filling us, constantly responds to us — especially to our thoughts.

The response is always “in kind.” “Think good and it will be good,” as the “Tzemach Tzedek,” the 3rd HaBaD rebbe, once said. [*

Thus, the Riminover is telling us that by reciting these verses, we’re not merely remembering G-d’s miraculously sustaining us in the wilderness. We’re actually invoking the same Divine Goodness in our own lives, now.

The verses become the text of our affirmation.

Is this “magic”? No. It’s applying the spiritual law: G-d responds in kind to our actions, words and thoughts.

“The [Lubavitcher] Rebbe documents the custom of reading Parashat Ha-Mahn to strengthen two qualities: one’s faith (emunah) that all that we have comes from G-d; and one’s trust and confidence (bitochon) in difficult times that G-d will provide our needs. The act of experiencing [and expressing] that faith and confidence is a vessel that brings down blessings.” [2]

But — one might ask — aren’t we asking G-d to change things to be as we think they should be? Rabbi Morris Lichtenstein’s answer was: No. Much the opposite. G-d intends nothing but good for us. Through our own mistakes, we limit or block the good that can be expressed for us. By invoking G-d’s miraculous sustenance of the B’nai Yisrael, we’re merely affirming that G-d is reasserting the Divine Will for our good, that we ourselves have violated and disturbed. We’re asking G-d to “put things back the way they’re supposed to be.”

Affirming G-d’s goodness mentally and verbally, we bring its expression about in our lives. G-d responds in kind to our actions, words, and thoughts.

“If you would know G-d, do not seek merely to prove His existence, but turn to Him with your heart; affirm your union with Him, affirm His responsiveness to prayer, pray to Him; if you actually turn to G-d … speak to Him in your heart, you will be astonished to find how close He is to you, you will feel His nearness, you will have found G-d.” [3]

But — why recite it twice in Hebrew, and once in the vernacular?

What’s your own answer?


[1] sent to me via email on 1/30/12 by Ms. Shoshana Averbach, LMSW
[*] see: https://rabbielimallon.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/hasidut-and-positive-words/
[2] Susskind, Dr. Yisroel; http://www.kabbalaonline.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/1744744/jewish/Start-Getting-Rich-This-Tuesday.html
[3] Lichtenstein, Tehillah; Applied Judaism; “Can We Prove That G-d Exists?”; p. 96
(originally part of “How Shall We Find G-d;” JS Interpreter, June, 1940; p. 4)