The portions of Behaalotecha and Beshalach tell about the manna that fell in the desert, sustaining the Jewish people for 40 years.

The Talmud1 asks: "It is written,2 'And when the dew came down upon the camp at night, the manna came down upon it.' [This indicates that the manna fell inside the camp.] And it is written,3 'And they went out and collected.' [This indicates that the manna fell outside the camp.] And it is written,4 'They walked and collected.' [This indicates that the manna was far from the camp.] How [are all three] possible?"

The Talmud explains that the three verses are talking about three different groups of people. "For the righteous, it came down at the door of their homes [in the camp], average people 'went out [of the camp] and collected,' the wicked 'walked [far from the camp] and collected.'"

The Talmud also explains the three different terms used by the Torah for the manna—"bread," "baked goods," and "ground [in a mill],"—in the same manner. For the righteous, it was ready to eat, like bread. The average person had to bake it, and the wicked had to start by grinding it into flour.

Manna is called "bread from the heavens,"5 or "grain of the heavens."6 The blessing said before eating manna was Hamotzi lechem min hashamayim7 (“He who takes bread out of the heavens”) or Hanotain lechem min hashamayim8 (“He who gives bread from the heavens.”)

The difference between bread from the earth and bread from the heavens is that bread from the earth requires a tremendous amount of preparation. It starts with plowing,9 then sowing, all in the field. Afterwards, you must wait for it to grow. Then it has to be cut, gathered, threshed, winnowed and finally ground in a mill, etc. By the time you have a loaf of bread, much time and energy was expended. And, after all that hassle, it is not pure nourishment, as the body digests, sending the excess to waste. Bread from the heavens, on the other hand, depending on who you were, had little to no preparation, as it was pure nourishment, producing no waste.10

This bread from the heavens nourished all the Jewish people, whether they were righteous, average or wicked. Even the wicked had the experience of pure nourishment without waste. That means that even when it became part of the body, the manna remained in its pure state. The manna, therefore, had an impact on the person who consumed it. As our sages say, "The Torah was not given to expound, but to those who ate the manna,"11 because the manna impacted us, and made us into the people right for the task. The manna affected every Jew, as each of us has a part in the Torah and a unique way of understanding it.

The manna didn't have an immediate effect on the person that would cause a person to instantly do repentance when they ate it. The wicked remained the same even after they ate it. That is why they still had to walk far from the camp to collect it, still needing to grind it. That is also why, during the 40 years that they ate the manna, some still did things that angered G‑d, as He said, "And they tested Me these 10 times."12 Nevertheless, it certainly had some affect on them, and eventually, when they did do teshuvah, it was certain that eating the manna positively impacted their return to G‑d.

This will help us clear up another oddity we find about the manna. It is said in the name of Rav Saadia Gaon,13 that if we find ourselves in a distant place and we don't know which parshah to read, we should read the parshah of the manna. Some even say that the reason for this is that the parshah of the manna was said by G‑d on Shabbat.14

There are many portions that were said on Shabbat, including the 10 Commandments,15 which represents the whole Torah. Why should we specifically read about the mannah when in doubt of what to read?

As mentioned earlier, even though the manna reached the lowest levels, as even the wicked ate it, it nevertheless remained in its pure state. First it fell from heaven to earth, then it was consumed by all kinds of people, righteous and wicked alike. Throughout all the levels, it remained the same.

Shabbat has the same quality. It is from a tremendously high level that is able to reach and connect to the lowest levels. Yet it remains untainted, keeping its high stature on all levels of existence.16

About Shabbat, the Torah says, "The heaven and the earth and all its components were completed [vayechulu]."17 The word vayechulu has an alternate translation, from the word kilyon,18 to go out of oneself from ecstasy. Yet, in regards to Shabbat, it would mean to be raised up to a high spiritual level, because it didn't go out of itself, it remained the same. The verse would thus read, "The heaven and the earth and all its components were raised." This happens every Shabbat. The whole world is raised to a level of ecstacy, to a very high spiritual place, the lofty level of Shabbat.

That is why, on Shabbat, not only is it a mitzvah to eat and drink, but it a mitzvah to have pleasure from it.19 The pleasure itself is a mitzvah.

During the week, we must eat so that we can survive and accomplish our tasks. There is no requirement to have pleasure, as worldly pleasures makes one coarse. But on Shabbat, not only does pleasure not make one coarse, but au contraire, the pleasure is a holy thing. It is a mitzvah.

Since the light of Shabbat permeates all of existence, we have a rule that even a completely wicked person doesn't lie on Shabbat.20 It doesn't mean that he does repentance on Shabbat. He remains the same person, with all of his failings, but the light of Shabbat has such a profound effect on him that he doesn't lie.

Now we can understand why we read the parshah of the manna. Both Shabbat and the manna have a unique quality that they affect all levels of existence, yet their holiness remains wholly intact. The parshah of the manna, therefore, brings to the fore the essence of Shabbos.

On the other hand, the other parshiyot, including the 10 Commandments, although unmistakably lofty, don't bring out the essence of the Shabbat day.

Everything in the world is reflected in Torah. The two types of bread, bread from the heavens and bread from the earth, are found in the study of Torah. Torah is called bread,21 as it nourishes our essence.

Bread from the earth is the study of the revealed parts of Torah. It is with great toil and effort that we acquire the knowledge of the revealed Torah. Even when we understand a part of it well, it is fraught with arguments and opinions.

Bread from the heavens, on the other hand, is the inner or hidden part of the Torah, "in which there is no questions ... and no arguments."22

It is a mistake to think that just because it is called "bread from the heavens," it is not for every Jew. On the contrary, just like the manna, the inner Torah is for every Jew, no matter where he or she stands spiritually. And if you teach a person who is not yet following the ways of G‑d, it will, with time, surely move him to get on the path.

Thank G‑d, as Moshiach comes closer, the opposition against teaching the inner Torah has ended. And now, there is hardly a Torah class or a rabbi's sermon without some inner Torah flavoring sprinkled within, specifically the teachings of the great chasidic masters. It is a blessing that we can embrace and study all levels of the Torah.

But that is only in the Torah institutions and synagogues. What about the unaffiliated, or the unlettered? Should we teach them too? These teachings are pure, they permeate all levels, and affect the person being taught to become closer to G‑d. So why not?

The evil inclination is clever. Now that there is no longer an opposition to Chassidut, he has found a new argument: "They are not ready for it yet." However, like every argument of the evil inclination, this one is flawed as well. There is truly no reason to refrain from teaching these beautiful, meaningful and pure lessons to every single Jew.

I have not found a Jew who is not ready for a lesson from the inner TorahI have personally been teaching these teachings since I became a rabbi, and I have not found a Jew who is not ready for a lesson from the inner Torah, or who hasn't become closer to G‑d from learning it.

The whole purpose of the evil inclination is for us to strengthen ourselves against him, doing what G‑d wants instead. When he sees that all his efforts to get you to do wrong just made you stronger, he will realize that it wasn't worth it, and he will stop bothering you with his foolish arguments.

May we bring every Jew closer to G‑d by teaching them both the revealed and inner Torahs. This will surely bring Moshiach closer, especially the teachings of the inner Torah, the Chasidic teachings. As the soul of Moshiach said to the Baal Shem Tov, that he will come, "When your wellsprings [Chassidut] will spread out." May he come soon.23