This week’s Torah reading mentions the manna, the food that fell from heaven which sustained the Jewish people during their journey through the desert. The manna was a training process, teaching the Jews to develop faith and trust in G‑d. For forty years, manna — “bread from heaven” — descended daily, clearly demonstrating to every person that there is no need to worry about providing for himself. “Each day’s portion [descended] on its day,” teaching that “He Who created the day also created the sustenance for it.”

This awareness prepared the Jewish people to make the transition to the norm of “bread from the earth” after entering Eretz Yisrael. As they faced the challenge of earning their livelihoods through natural means, they were able to maintain the awareness that “it is He Who gives you the power to prosper.”

Implied is that faith and trust are not excuses for a person to be lazy or even passive. Instead, they enable a person to chart his life as a partnership with G‑d, associating Him with his efforts to earn a living and raise his family, in the spirit of the verse, “And G‑d your L‑rd will bless you in everything that you do.” On this verse, Sifri comments: “Lest a person think that he should sit idle, the verse comes to teach us that G‑d’s blessing is bestowed ‘in everything that you do.’ Implied is that the Torah instructs one to create a natural medium for one’s livelihood, and that “one should not rely on a miracle.”

Why, however, does a person have to employ those mediums? Because he was commanded to do so. He does not consider the medium as being important in its own right, but instead employs it only in response to G‑d’s command, as no more than a tool through which G‑d works. Thus while working and taking initiative, the person realizes that nothing he accomplishes is the result of “[his] strength and the power of [his] hand,” but that it is G‑d “Who gives [him] the power to prosper.”

This is not merely a story of the past. The Rebbe Maharash would say that even at present, in the era of exile, our livelihood descends as the manna did, as “bread from heaven.” Our efforts to earn “bread from the earth” are, in truth, only a conduit for the ultimate source of sustenance, “the bread from heaven.”

These are not merely spiritual concepts. Instead, they have a direct effect on our management of the two emotions most related to our financial success: greed and fear. A carefully measured dose of these feelings is desirable. An excessive degree of either — and certainly, both — of them is dangerous.

What causes excessive greed and fear? A lack of trust in G‑d. When a person learns the lesson of the manna — that each day he receives exactly what he needs from G‑d, he will not be continuously craving more and thus taking reckless steps that might cause him to lose what he has. Nor will he be hamstrung by fear and prevented from taking those steps that are necessary to protect and increase what he has. Instead, he will happily enjoy what he has been given and proactively take whatever actions are necessary to increase his resources.

Looking to the Horizon

This Shabbos is given a special name, Shabbas Shirah, “the Shabbos of song,” because it includes the songs sang by the Jewish people after the miracle of the splitting of the sea.

More particularly, this week’s Torah reading includes two songs: the song in which Moses led the men and the song in which Miriam led the women. Of the two, Miriam’s song was more spirited. Besides singing, she led the women in dance and they were inspired to accompany the song with tambourines.

Our Sages ask: Where did they get the tambourines in the desert and reply that the Jewish women were confident that G‑d would work miracles for them in the desert and so they brought tambourines with them from Egypt in the expectation of celebrating His miracles. Even while in Egypt, Jewish women had faith in redemption and miracles.

This relates to the theme of trust mentioned above. Even while we are in exile, we must remember that it is only a temporary phenomenon. At present, the Redemption is not manifest. Nevertheless, since the exile will end and the Redemption will be everlasting, redemption is the truth of our existence. And our trust in G‑d will actually serve as a catalyst for the redemption to come at an earlier time, as we say in our prayers “Speedily cause the scion of David (the Mashiach)… to flourish… because we hope for Your salvation all day.”