The mon and parnassah

A friend shared with me the following thought, which I found to be very powerful.

Rav Binyamin Goldstein (son of the Rosh Yeshiva of Sharei Yosher in Jerusalem) asked the following question. In regards to the mon, we learn that the tzadikim would find it outside their homes, and the reshaim would have to go far and wide to get theirs. Why didn’t the reshaim just take the mon of the tzadikim, or perhaps at least learn from the ways of tzadik so that they wouldn’t have to go to all the extra effort and it would come to their own door?

To answer this, let us try to imagine the scene when Moshe tells the Jewish people about the mon. He tells them that they are to collect exactly an omer of mon for each person in the family.

The tzaddik hears the words of Moshe, and on the first day he goes out and is careful to make sure that he does not take a drop more than Moshe said. To be absolutely positive, he even takes a little bit less. Amazingly, when he arrives home, he sees that there is exactly an omer for each person, so he thinks to himself that it was smart that he took a little less, because it turned out that he had in fact taken the right amount.

The next day, the tzaddik goes out and makes sure to take even slightly less so that he won’t transgress the command of Hashem. It’s a warm day, and when he arrives home, he sees that again the amount for each person is exactly an omer. He thinks to himself that it was wise that he took even less that day, as the heat must have made the mon expand.

The following day is a real scorcher, and when the tzaddik goes out he makes sure to take even less then the previous days, as he is sure the heat will make the mon expand even more. Lo and behold, when he returns home, his thoughts are confirmed and there is exactly an omer for each person.

The tzaddik does not need to go too far from his home to find the small amount that he collects, because he always finds the right amount when he brings it into his home.

Now let us turn to the rasha, whose experience was completely different.

When this rasha heard Moshe say that there is only an omer to be collected for each person, he thinks to himself, “Well how can I survive on only one omer?” He decides to take a little more, to make sure he has enough. When he gets home, so he finds that indeed all he has is exactly an omer. He tells himself that it was a good thing he took that little bit extra, because in the end it seems he only really took exactly an omer.

The next day is warm, and he goes out and says to himself that he’d better take slightly more this time, to be sure he has the right amount. The day is warm, so who knows? Maybe the mon will melt in the heat. Indeed, when he gets home, he finds that there is only exactly the omer, so he reasons that it was smart that he took that extra.

The following day is a real scorcher, and the rasha makes sure to take significantly more this time. After all, it will surely melt and there will only be an omer left. On his way home, he trips, and the mon falls out of his hands and gets dirty. He goes searching around for the amount he needs, but most of the mon has already been collected and he ends up having to go outside the camp to find the amount of mon necessary to make sure he ends up with his omer. When he gets home, he again finds exactly an omer thus confirming for him that it was the right thing to take that extra.

In the end, the tzaddik finds the small amount near his home to be enough, but the rasha is always searching far and wide for his portion, because inevitably something happens to make it necessary for him to collect elsewhere.

Rav Goldstein explains that this is true for us as well. The amount of money we are to make is decreed by Hashem, and is completely unconnected to the amount of effort we do. A person can believe that the livelihood he makes is dependent on his effort, but he makes a similar mistake to the rasha we just spoke about. He searches far and wide, spending much time on his efforts, and in the end, all kinds of different things happen and he ends up with exactly the same amount as was intended for him.

The person who is smart and aware realizes that our livelihood is from Hashem. Yes, we must put in some effort, but the effort does not correspond to the result. Like the tzaddik who minimizes his effort and puts his faith in Hashem, when we trust in Hashem and know that all of our means are provided by Him, we can start to see that our efforts are not as greatly needed. Somehow the amount of effort we do suffices for our needs. We do our part, and Hashem does the rest.

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