This week in Egypt’s attempt at a comedy news show, the Jews have escaped. One of the most famous of all the biblical narratives happens in this week’s Parsha Beshalach. The splitting of the Red Sea is an infamous metaphor of the glory of Hashem and the ability of the Jewish people to beat the odds time and time again to survive.
However in this week’s drash I want to look more closely at the ideas we read in the end of the parsha, the section where we learn about the manna that fell from the sky. It was a symbol from God that he would look after his people while wandering the wilderness. Each day food would fall from the sky and everyone was instructed to take as much as they required for that day as it would not be edible the next day. If anyone took more than they needed the food would become infested with maggots and disease the next day causing illness.
Immediately the current epidemic of mass accumulation shot to mind. Were the Jews in Egypt some of the first ever Socialists? The take what you need and give what you can mentality is almost a faded memory of modern day society. The obsession with fiscal dominance and negative consumerist behaviour is continuing to shape the identity of our generation over the last few decades. Our society is treating life and the world like a massive game of monopoly, a huge game of mass accumulation where only a few can win. We’re living in a world where we have more things then we could have ever imagined and we are also at a point in society where statistically we’re also the saddest generation. “Things, things things, its just fucking things,” said someone sometime.
I think what I take out this parsha and the concept of manna is the challenge to live a minimalist life and to constantly search for the simple things. To be content with what I have, make the most of it and not be greedy. We may all be players in the massive game of monopoly but it doesn’t mean that I can’t slip a few shekels into the kuppah.