| Parshah |

Pitfalls and Windfalls

There are many things we can learn about parnassah from the story of the mahn



“I have heard the complaints of Bnei Yisrael… In the afternoon you’ll eat meat, and in the morning you’ll be satisfied with bread, and you should know that I am Hashem, your G-d.” (Shemos 16:12)



here are two points we can learn from this pasuk. When we daven to Hashem for parnassah, He answers, even when we don’t ask in a nice way. Further, the end of the pasuk shows that Hashem Himself provides parnassah — not via an angel.

The Gemara (Taanis 2a) supports this idea, explaining that there are three keys in This World that Hashem retains control over and does not entrust to messengers: rain (upon which parnassah depends), childbirth, and techiyas hameisim. The Midrash however, lists parnassah independently, as a fourth key. The word mafteach itself hints to these four keys: mattar, rain; parnassah; techiyah, resurrection; and chayah, life. (Rav Eliezer Chrysler, Midei Shabbos)

One day when the kids are all grown up (that time seems to be getting closer so quickly), I’m finally going to get around to writing a book I’ve been drafting in my head for years, about hashkafic and hashgachic anecdotes relating to parnassah. When it comes down to bank accounts, everyone has a story, and the more you hear, the more you realize how the buck doesn’t stop here, but rather Up There.

There are many things we can learn about parnassah from the story of the mahn. It was nestled between two layers of dew, showing that Hashem provides our parnassah with loving care. Bnei Yisrael were not able to identify the mahn, as Hashem often provides parnassah in mysterious ways. Everyone received the fixed measure of an omer, teaching us that each individual’s parnassah is fixed every Rosh Hashanah. Moshe’s warning not to leave the mahn over until morning shows that one should not worry about the future since Hashem, Who provided today, will also provide tomorrow.

When we were first married, we lived in a tiny rental in Yerushalayim. I was working in four seminaries and kept a handwritten list of our expenses to ensure we stayed within our budget. Things were stable until we got a whopper of a bill for a yearly property tax, throwing us completely off balance. (How can you tax a tiny basement?) We juggled numbers and debated living on bread and water for a while. Yet despite our best efforts, we couldn’t see past the red.

The next morning my husband walked in, waving an envelope. “I never knew, but there’s an organization from my alma mater for alumni living in Israel. They just sent us a check!” Taxes covered. Why do I ever doubt?

Hashem commanded Aharon to place a jar-full of mahn in the Kodesh Hakodoshim. Years later, the Navi Yirmiyahu reprimanded Bnei Yisrael for not learning Torah. When they replied that they were too preoccupied with parnassah, he displayed this jar of mahn, and reminded them that their ancestors survived 40 years in the desert with Hashem providing all their parnassah.

Here’s another great one. A friend of mine works long hours, as does her husband, yet they barely scrape by. One day she was driving home after car pool and work, when her car began slowing down… then stopped. With a backseat full of cranky kids, she was desperate to reach home, but no go. The car refused to crawl any further.

She took a taxi home and had the car towed. That’s how the burning hole in her pocket started. But then the mechanic called with the dreaded T-word. The whole transmission needed to be replaced. Estimated cost: $4,000.

Taking a deep breath, she went to deal with supper and bedtimes — easy challenges compared to conjuring up money or robbing a bank.

As she set the table, her husband came in, dumping the mail on the counter. There among the junk mail and catalogues was a letter addressed to her. Certain she was going to see miracles before her very eyes, she ripped open the envelope to find a check for the balance she was owed from a freelance project. But the measly $395 wasn’t going to buy a new transmission. Still, it would cover the towing.

The next morning she awoke, dreading a car-less day. The phone rang before her second hit of coffee had mellowed her mood.

“Hi, it’s Tony’s Transmissions. Just calling bright and early with good news. Turns out that your transmission’s just fine. A small belt snapped, which caused fluid to leak, but that can be replaced easily.”

Total cost? It came to $395.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 728)

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