Friday, April 5, 2013

Parshat Ha'Man

Although one may use whatever words one chooses in whatever language one can most fluently express himself when offering prayer to G-d, there is a tradition to recite Parashat Ha’Man as a segulah for parnasah.  Whether as a way to ask for continued financial success or for relief from crippling financial woes, why specifically Parashat Ha’Man?  Maybe the descriptions of am yisrael leaving Egypt with “rechush gadol” would be appropriate or perhaps the parashot describing the wealth of the avot would be better suited?  

Certainly one would point to the obvious.  With the man, the verses clearly state that it was G-d who provided our sustenance in the wilderness and in our own lives we acknowledge that it is only through G-d that the tools and conduits are put in place to sustain our every need.  I would suggest another reason for reciting parashat ha’man.  One of the most astonishing points about the man was that it would not last longer than one day.  Those who took more and those who took less were all satiated and whatever was leftover did not remain the following morning.  Those who took extra portions found them the next day infested with worms.  While on the weekdays extra portions rotted, a miraculous characteristic of the man was seen on shabbat, when we were commanded to take a double portion on Friday to provide for Shabbat’s provisions and the portion collected for Shabbat remained as fresh that day as it had been on Friday.  

I see a lesson in these pesukim that bring us back to the importance of being present, breathing into the moment.  The man gave us one days worth of food.  No more, no less.  Although G-d has brought us to the Land of Israel and given us the awesome responsibility to sow, and plough the fields to harvest the abundance of the Land to nourish ourselves with our daily bread, the man reminds us that each day G-d provides us with exactly what we need and exactly what He wants for us.  When we are fully present we are most cognizant of this truth.  We work and toil maybe we barely eke out a living but G-d always, always provides the means to ensure our needs are fulfilled for that one day.  

Life is unpredictable.  Maybe today I have a little more and maybe tomorrow the stock market crashes.  Just as today’s abundance may disappear tomorrow, so to today’s lack does not cast a cloud over the hope that tomorrow will bring plenty again.

As we head into the first Shabbat after pesach, a Shabbat that has come to be connected with increased intentions and prayers for parnasah tova, it is my prayer that we all recognize what we have in our lives and in noting both our material possessions and spiritual assets, come to greater appreciation and gratitude.  After all, gratitude makes what we have enough.  

The following is a story often repeated by Scott Dinsmore of “Live Your Legend” and I think it’s fitting to share here again to link the ideas of parnasa and living each day fully.   

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."

shabbat shalom