5775: A New Year’s Blessing from Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

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The new year that has just begun is the year 5775, which in Hebrew is referred to as 775 (תשע”ה). One of the numerical allusions to this number is “the jar of manna” (צִנְצֶנֶת הַמָן).

When the Jewish People left Egypt, on their journey to receive the Torah on Mt. Sinai, they were granted the manna, “Bread from Heaven,” which provided them with sustenance for forty years, “Until they reached a settled land.” God commanded Moses to preserve one omer measure of the manna in a jar that was placed in the Holy of Holies, together with the Ark of the Testimony, to commemorate their eating the manna in the wilderness. The purpose of this preservation was not only to remind us of the loving-kindness that God did for us through His miracles in the desert, but also to reinforce our faith and trust in the fact that God is the one who supplies for and sustains those who commit themselves to Torah study (as the Midrash teaches us that, “The Torah was only given to those who ate the manna.”). This comes to the fore in particular in the fact that this year is a shemitah (seventh, or sabbatical) year. Anyone who lives in complete faith and trust in God, will live their lives like they are living in the Garden of Eden. This is alluded to by the fact that the numerical value of “faith” and “trust” (אֶמוּנָה, בִּטָחוֹן) is equal to the “Garden of Eden” (גַן עֵדֶן).

During the time of the Prophet Jeremiah, the Jewish People needed to see that manna jar once again, to strengthen their faith and trust in the fact that sustenance comes only from God.

When Jeremiah asked the Jewish People, “Why is it that you don’t occupy yourselves with Torah study?” They replied, “If we occupy ourselves with Torah study, how will find sustenance?!” At that point, he brought out the jar of manna and said to them “O generation, you see the word of God. Was I a desert to Israel or a land of thick darkness? Why have My people said, ‘We have been separated; we will no longer come to You’? Your forefathers occupied themselves with Torah study, see how they were sustained; if you occupy yourselves with Torah study, I will sustain you.”

Radak interprets “We have been separated” (רַדְנוּ) to read, “We have ruled,” [as in the phrase, “And rule over the fish of the sea” (וְּרדוּ בִּדְגַת הַיָם)], meaning that we have a government, kings and ministers, “We will no longer come to You.” From Radak’s words it becomes clear that the root of the people’s lack of trust in God is their negative trust in “government, kings and ministers”—the people are complacent in their trust of the ministers and the government; they have a central authority that “takes care of them” so they have no need to set their faith and trust in God on High. However, when the people publicly rely on flesh and blood, then in the personal realm they also feel that their sustenance depends on their own toil, and they neglect their Torah study and their connection with God.

The “jar of manna” comes to remind us foremostly that sustenance comes daily from the Almighty’s open, Holy and over-flowing hand. Therefore, no-one should completely devote themselves to their sustenance in a way that makes them forget their role in this world—the vessel that holds God’s blessing is actually formed by studying Torah and by fulfilling the mission that mankind was created for. This realization has public ramifications—it must release the people from its imagined perspective according to which one can rely on the state and the approach that “government, king and ministers,” are those that allow our existence in the land and therefore we have no more need for God’s loving-kindnesses. The “jar of manna” reminds us all that everything depends entirely on God and we must all come to Him and accept His authority.

It is actually by undermining this imaginary stability that grants the individual faith and trust in the Almighty and allows him to move ahead—because any human framework is limited and is therefore incomparable to the unlimited powers that God fills us with. It is actually by undermining our trust in “government, kings and ministers” that strengthens our ability to observe the mitzvah of appointing a king as the Torah requires us to do; a king who, “Has none above him besides Havayah, his God,” one who boldly depicts the Torah’s vision and aspires to observe it without taking heed of the gentile nations.

Indeed, regarding the mitzvah of the manna jar, the Torah states three times that it was to be “preserved”: “And Moses said, ‘This is the matter that God commanded, a full omer measure of it to be preserved for your generations, so that they see the bread which I fed you in the wilderness’… and God said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put into it a full omer measure of manna and place it before God to be preserved for your generations. As God commanded Moses, and Aaron placed it before the testimony to be preserved.” The first preservation was for the generation of the wilderness; the second preservation was for Jeremiah’s generation; the third preservation is for the days of Mashiach. May it be God’s will that we merit the third preservation—that of Mashiach—in the year 5775 as we become as one with the “jar of manna” in our faith and trust in God alone.

The special quality of the year 5775 (תשע”ה) is “nine months of pregnancy” (תִּשְׁעָה יַרְחֵי לֵידָה), i.e., the ability to hold abstract thoughts (that are like the manna—“white coriander seed”—which was semi-spiritual), and to nurture them to maturity and to a successful birth. In this year, may we merit an abundance of births, both physically and spiritually, including the birth of the genuine king that we hope for—Mashiach—of whom it states, “You are My son, I have given birth to you today” (through a consciousness of constant rebirth and renewal), and may it be God’s will that this year be the year of “The mainstay of the home, the mother of children rejoices.”[1]

Wishing the entire Jewish People a good and sweet year, may we all be written and signed in the book of Eternal Life.

Yitzchak Ginsburgh

[1] The initial letters of “The mainstay of the home” (עֲקֶרֶת הַבָּיִת) have a numerical value of 75, which alludes to this year; 5775.

Photo Credit: Siona Karen, Flickr

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