Manna and the True Essence of the Sabbath

Jan. 22 2016

The biblical commandment to keep the Sabbath first appears in Exodus 16 (part of this week’s Torah reading), several chapters before the giving of the Ten Commandments. The context is the manna that falls from heaven to nourish the Israelites during their wanderings in the desert. Moses explains that on the first five days of the week the Israelites must gather only what they will eat for that day; on the sixth, they should collect enough for both that day and the next, the Sabbath day when no manna will fall. Ethan Tucker argues that the story of the manna is crucial to understanding the essence of the day of rest:

Why couldn’t the manna be gathered on Shabbat morning? It is, after all, food, and there would seem to be no real impediment to handling and consuming it on the Sabbath itself. The focus here on preparation seems to be key: if the goal of Shabbat is to experience an already-completed world [as God did on the first, primordial Sabbath of Genesis 2:2], then we cannot have a system where one’s [main source of] sustenance only materializes halfway through the day.

Moses emphasizes that all baking and cooking of the manna must take place before Shabbat [even though] there has not yet been any articulation of a Sabbath ban on work at this point in the Torah. Instead, his directive seems focused on having everything ready in advance. It is this state of affairs, more than a set of behaviors, that will establish Shabbat as truly holy, the sense that as the day enters, I have everything I need, just exactly as I need it.

Read more at Mechon Hadar

More about: Exodus, Hebrew Bible, Judaism, Moses, Religion & Holidays, Shabbat


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria