On Tuesday, Parashat Beshalach, January 25, 2008 at 1 PM, my colleague, Mr. Chaim-Yedidya Fischer, told me that date presented a special opportunity to gain a blessing for one's livelihood. There is an orally transmitted tradition going back to the Chassidic Rebbe Menachem-Mendel of Riminov (1755-1815) that one obtains a blessing for material bounty by reading the Torah verses (Exodus 16:4-36) describing the manna on the Tuesday of the week of Parashat Beshalach [in 2012: Jan. 31 –- Ed.]. Manna is the food that came from Heaven and sustained the Israelites during their 40 years in the desert.
Manna is the food that came from Heaven and sustained the Israelites during their 40 years in the desert.
Many people read Parashat ha-mon ("the section of the Manna") on a daily basis, so you can draw on its benefits any day of the year. However, its powers to bring down blessings are particularly strong on the Tuesday of Parashat Beshalach, the weekly Torah portion that contains the verses.

I fleetingly thought that this was a nice custom and prepared to move on with my day. But only three minutes later, at 1:03, I received a phone call from a friend, a man in his fifties who had been out of work for many months. He was having trouble finding a position commensurate with his qualifications that was as good as his last job. I had been concerned about the strain he was under. He announced that this week he had gotten an excellent position and felt that he had to call me today to share the good news.

Whoa! That got my attention. Coincidence? I went back to Mr. Fischer and told him the story. He reciprocated by giving me a copy of the Torah reading about the manna, with an accompanying prayer for a blessing for livelihood. He added that this custom had been popularized by "a revered rabbi in Brooklyn," who said that it is an oral tradition from Reb Menachem Mendel of Riminov.

To place the Riminover in context: he was a student of Rabbi Elimelech of Lyzhinsk (1717-1787), known as "the Rebbe Reb Meilech," one of the leading students of the Maggid of Mezritch, successor to the Baal Shem Tov. Three of Reb Meilech's students had a particularly powerful influence on the development of the Chassidic movement in Galicia: The Riminover, the Chozeh of Lublin and the Maggid of Koznitz. One of the Riminover's students was Reb Naftali of Ropshitz, who in turn was the Rebbe of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz.

I am a psychologist; I was on my way to visit a client of mine who was depressed, who had been unable to motivate himself to seek work. I decided to take with me the reading provided by Mr. Fischer. When I showed it to my client, he pulled out his own copy, which had been distributed that morning in his synagogue. We agreed to read the verses together.

My client said to me that he believed the "revered Rabbi in Brooklyn" who popularized the custom was the Paya Rov, Rabbi Moshe-Dov Weinberger. Paya is the Yiddish name for Opalyi, a village in Northeastern Hungary, 30 miles northwest of Satmar.

After that appointment, I was scheduled to meet a colleague who is a Skverer Chosid. When I mentioned to him the issue of Parashat ha-mon, he also pulled out a copy that had been distributed in his synagogue that morning. He told me that his grandfather, Rabbi Mordechai ("Max") Schwartz of Serdehel, Slovakia, had survived the Holocaust and then was fortunate to become a very wealthy man in New Square. He once asked his grandfather how he had become so successful. His grandfather attributed it to the fact that he began every day by reading a small portion of a book by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Riminov

That book, Menachem Zion, discusses the weekly readings of the Torah. What is unique about the book is that the author relates each of his weekly commentaries to Parashat ha-mon. For example, here is a very brief synopsis of his very first essay. In Gen. (2:3) it says, "He blessed the seventh day and sanctified it." What were the blessing and the sanctification?
"He blessed it with manna and he sanctified it with manna."
Explains the Riminover, "He blessed it with manna and he sanctified it with manna." To "bless" means to give extra. Each day of the week, the Jews in the desert had one omer (a measure) of manna. But for Shabbos, they were provided a double portion, which fell on Friday. To "sanctify" means to make separate or different. Shabbos was set apart by the fact that no manna fell or was collected on Shabbos.

What does this mean in spiritual terms? Manna represents G‑d's helping us to connect with Him through our limited intellectual powers of thought and speech; just as manna is a gift from G‑d that we did not earn, so too is G‑d's helping us to understand him through our intellect.

This concept is very similar to what the Alter Rebbe (of Chabad) says about the words "Torat Chesed al l'shona" in Aishet Chayil. The words "Torat Chesed" mean "a Torah of loving kindness." The Alter Rebbe asks "what is the chesed referred to in this phrase? "He answers that it is an act of loving kindness to us that G‑d put Himself into the Torah in such a way that allows us to use Torah study as a means to get close to Him.

During Shabbos, those intellectual powers are increased. Therefore, we are advised that during the six days of the week we should focus on listening rather than speaking, on learning established material rather than teaching innovations, as preparation for Shabbos. Our capacity to give over and to receive innovations (chidushim) is enhanced on Shabbos.

At 6 PM, I called the Paya Rov's home to verify the story and spoke with an adult daughter. She said that her father confirmed the story: he had heard of the tradition from his father, Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Weinberger, who had heard it from Rabbi Avraham Sholom Halberstam, the son of the Shinover Rov, Rabbi Yechezkel-Shraga Halberstam (1813-1898), who said that his father had related the tradition in the name of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Riminov.

"Whoa" #2, #3 and #4. The Shinover Rov served for 7 years as the Rabbi of the town from which my ancestors came, Stropkov, Slovakia. I am descended from Weinbergers on both my father's and mother's side. And it appears that I am a very distant cousin of this Paya Rov. Further, the Rabbi Avraham Sholom Halberstam, just mentioned, took over from his father and became the Rabbi of my ancestors' town of Stropkov.

I began to research some of the details and found a missing link in this chain. Rabbi Menachem-Mendel of Riminov died in 1815, at which time the Shinover Rov was two years old. So the Shinover Rov must have heard of the Riminover's tradition from someone else. I called back the Paya Rov's household and was told he assumed that the Shinover heard it from the gabbai (personal attendant) and disciple-successor of the Riminover, Reb Tzvi-Hirsch. At one time, the Shinover was a student of Reb Tzvi-Hirsch.

I spoke with the current Stropkover Rebbe, Rabbi Avraham-Sholom-Yissachar Dov Halberstam of Jerusalem, who confirmed that there is a tradition in his family, which the Shinover passed down in the name of the Riminover, that saying Parashat ha-mon on the Tuesday of Parashat Beshalach is an auspicious act for receiving blessings of livelihood.

At this point, I decided to write up the story and emailed it to my list of friends.

I soon had a number of responses. One was from Rabbi Yosef Katzman of Crown Heights, who directed me to a teaching of the Lubavitcher Rebbe for Parashat Beshalach 5253 on this topic. (Likutei Sichos vol. 26, pp. 95-102) The Rebbe documents the custom of reading Parashat ha-mon to strengthen two qualities: one's faith (emunah) that all that we have comes from G‑d; and one's trust and confidence (bitochon) in difficult times that G‑d will provide our needs. The act of experiencing that faith and confidence is a vessel that brings down blessings.
The act of experiencing that faith and confidence is a vessel that brings down blessings.
Nonetheless, the Rebbe sets some conditions on when Parashat ha-mon should be read. He acknowledges that many prayer books contain Parashat ha-mon at the end of the morning prayers. However, the Rebbe explains that the Alter Rebbe followed the example of the Arizal (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Tzefat) and did not include Parashat ha-mon in his siddur. His siddur included primarily those prayers which could be traced back to the customs initiated by the Men of the Great Assembly (at the time of Ezra the scribe, ca. 3426/335 BCE (see Pirkei Avot 1:1-2)).

Another response was from my previously un-employed friend. He called to say that he was offered another job, by his former employer. Apparently, the executive who had fired him was himself fired, and the new administrator wanted him back. He has agreed to resume working for them, but as an independent consultant. Thank you, Rabbi Menachem-Mendel of Riminov.

I have learned about three aspects of bounty. One, materially, is that parashat ha-mon offers a blessing for livelihood, especially, but not only, on Tuesday of Parashat Beshalach. Second, spiritually, saying Parashat ha-mon can strengthen our faith and confidence. Third, emotionally, there is benefit in following what stirs you emotionally. When this story began, I did not know that this story would lead me to connections in my family's personal history. I just felt a passionate stirring that I chose to value.

May it be that our spiritual and emotional connections to Torah and its precious words create a vessel for the ultimate bounty, with the coming of Moshiach, may that be immediately NOW!

[Link here to the original Hebrew text of Parashat ha-Mon, voweled and with English translation.]