At the conclusion of Beshallach,1 the Torah describes the manna, the heavenly bread that was the Jews’ staple during our 40-year sojourn in the desert. Included in the tale are the facts that the manna did not descend on Shabbos, and that a portion was sequestered as an eternal keepsake.

The Zohar2 comments that although the manna did not descend on Shabbos, it was on that day that it was blessed from above, so that it would descend during the following six days of the week. Why was the blessing secured on a day when the manna did not fall? Evidently there is an intrinsic connection between Shabbos and the manna.

Earlier on, Rashi comments on the verse3 “In the morning you shall behold G‑d’s glory,” as follows: “When it [the manna] descends in the morning, you will behold the glory of His illumined countenance. For He shall cause it to descend unto you in a loving manner — in the morning, when there is time to prepare it, and when it is sandwiched in dew.”

We thus see that not only did the Jewish people receive the “heavenly bread” with a minimum of effort, but also that it was provided by G‑d in a “loving manner,” so as to further minimize the labor involved in obtaining it.

The manna is thus entirely similar to Shabbos, the day granted by G‑d for the purpose of rest, tranquillity and delight.4

Although the manna did not descend on Shabbos so as to assure that the day be one of complete rest (and a double portion therefore descended on Friday5), the centrality of the Shabbos theme to the manna was such that the blessing from above that it descend during the six weekdays came about on the day of rest.

In light of the above we can better understand why the manna was secluded together with the ark6 for an everlasting remembrance. In doing so the Torah provides an eternal lesson to all Jews with regard to the procurement of sustenance: even when a Jew must toil for his daily bread, his sustenance still contains something of the manna.7

A Jew’s sustenance8 is directly commensurate with his degree of spiritual service — “If you follow My commandments, I shall provide rain in its proper time.”9 Understandably, since a human being’s service is limited, the sustenance he receives must be limited as well.

The other nations of the world, however, receive sustenance independent of their spiritual service. It therefore follows that their sustenance is not subject to the limitations imposed upon the Jew.

But this limitation only applies to the quantity of the sustenance. With regard to the quality of G‑d’s beneficence, the Jewish people have the advantage, inasmuch as G‑d provides our livelihood in a “loving manner” and with the “glory of His illumined countenance.”

G‑d does so, because the Jewish people are ready to forego the greater quantity of sustenance that we could have obtained in the manner of the other nations, and opt to receive our nurture directly from G‑d in accordance with our spiritual activity.10

This quality was clearly seen in the manna. On the one hand the manna was strictly limited in quantity — an omer per person.11 Yet this limited amount was provided by G‑d in a “loving manner,” with delight and with the “glory of His illumined countenance.”

And just as G‑d endowed the manna with a vesture of His delight, so too with regard to the Jewish people, who received G‑d’s bounty with delight.

Thus the manna was not only received without toil, but the Jewish people were also able to taste within it any flavor we desired.12 Moreover, along with the manna there also descended many kinds of precious jewels13 — the main purpose of which is to stimulate joy and delight.

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. XXXI, pp. 85-91.