Nothing is more wonderful than a great surprise ending. In this week’s Parsha, the Red Sea splits, the great Egyptian army is drowned, and the Jews rejoice in their newfound freedom. However, soon after the Jews finish their song and dance, they realize that they are stranded in the desert without a kosher restaurant anywhere in sight. Fortunately, G-d did not take the Jews out of Egypt to abandon them in the desert.
G-d sustained the Jews with the Manna for forty years. The Manna would fall daily and the people would collect the amount they needed each day. Friday and Shabbat were exceptions. G-d did not want the Jews to gather the Manna on the Day of Rest. Therefore, on Friday everyone received an extra portion for the Shabbat, and on the Shabbat no Manna would fall (see 16:11-27). This is the Torah’s first mention of the Shabbat since the beginning of Bereishit, where we were told that G-d sanctified the seventh day of creation.
Is it appropriate that the first we hear of the Shabbat is simply as an explanation as to why a double portion of Manna would fall on Friday? Doesn’t Shabbat deserve a more direct and formal introduction than that? Is Shabbat just a footnote to the falling schedule of the Manna? It seems that there must be a deeper link between the Manna and the Shabbat.
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