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    Miracles and manna – B’shallach

    The food that sustained the Israelites in the wilderness was called manna because they wondered, Man hu? – “What is it?”

    The Gathering of the Manna, by James Tissot

    Each day it covered the ground like hoar frost. Ground into flour and baked into cakes, it tasted like honey wafers (Ex. 16:31).

    In later centuries travellers claimed they had come across it. Near Durban in 1932, for example, there was a fall of a white snow-like substance that looked like popcorn and tasted like honey. Some of our own generation compare it to tofu, a utility food with a versatile taste depending on how you prepare it.

    Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put in it an omer of manna, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept throughout your generations” (Ex. 16:33) – the first food museum in history, maybe the first museum of any kind.

    What was in Moses’ mind when he told Aaron to “lay up” the manna?

    One answer is hinted at in the sidra. The narrative goes from the drama at the Red Sea to the daily provision of manna. Obviously the crossing of the Red Sea was a miracle. So was the manna.

    It showed God’s constant care for His creatures. As the prayerbook says, “Your miracles are with us every day, Your wonders and favours at all times”.

    Those who wonder why miracles only happened in ancient times are making a false assumption. Miracles have never ceased, especially the gift of life and the capacity to love, think, create, conserve, tend the universe and succour human beings.

    It is these daily wonders which the jar of manna was meant to symbolise.

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