Moses Mendelssohn, Bi’ur, Deuteronomy 8:2
By being placed in a position of absolute reliance on the Almighty for their daily sustenance, they would become habituated to trust in Him and their faith in God would become part and parcel of their nature.
אלשיך על שמות פרק טז פסוק טו
ויאמרו איש אל אחיו מן הוא. כלומר, אוי לנו, כי זה הדבר רוחני מן הוא, לחם אבירים שמלאכי השרת נהנים ממנו, ומה יפרנסנו זה. על כן עשה בחכמה והשיב בדרך שישארו הם חייבים להודות לה'.
Micha Odenheimer, The Torah of Globalization (929)
Redemption, along with the giving of the Torah, is marked by a new means of sustenance. The Israelites are lifted out of the by now seemingly inevitable economy and culture of hoarding through the story of the manna. The Sages rightly saw the manna as creating a preparatory, material basis for divine revelation. “The Torah was not given,” says the Talmud, “but to the eaters of the manna.”
What is the essential quality of manna? It is a sustenance unmediated by a human economic system. It cannot be stored or hoarded. Left overnight, it spoils, corrupts, and crawls with worms. Each and every person is charged with gathering just enough manna to eat for one day. The Torah calls this “d’var yom b’yomo”—“each day’s matter on that day” (Exod. 16:4). Pharaoh uses this very expression after imposing heavier burdens upon the Israelites after Moses’s initial intervention on behalf of the beleaguered people. There, “each day’s matter” refers to the arbitrary quota of bricks that each person was to produce—bricks for a giant storehouse (Exod. 5:13).
In the story of the manna, to emphasize the revolutionary nature of the Exodus—in which Egyptian reality is stood on its head—the phrase is used again, but this time it refers not to the gross accumulation of resources, but to the modest amount of sustenance each person needs for that particular day.
To emphasize the centrality of the manna principle in Judaism, God commands Moses, at the very end of the manna narrative, to place a jar with one omer of manna in the Ark of the Covenant, alongside the tablets of the law, in the holy of holies. In its immediacy, in the total economic equality it represents, and in its negation of accumulation and stockpiling, it repudiates those cultures in which economic and political power are centralized and conjoined through the storage of food and other forms of capital.
Seen in the light of the narrative arc stretching from Eden to the giving of manna, the meaning and direction of the economic justice legislation of the Torah becomes more readily apparent. The Torah’s purpose is to create an “anti-Egypt,” in which exploitation is not allowed free reign because land, wealth, and the means of production have not been concentrated in the hands of the few. Rather than the consolidation of land in the hands of one person, the Torah commands that the land of Israel be divided, so that each family has its own plot of land, of a size appropriate to the needs of the family. As with the manna, the principle of land distribution is, “To each according to their needs.”
As if to emphasize the nature of this society as opposite that of Egypt, the priests are the only group not allotted land; ironically, in Egypt the priests were the only group that was allowed to keep its land in the face of Joseph’s feudalization of the Egyptian economy.
Gabriel Preil, "Chapters of Time: His and Mine"
Benno Jacob (p. 470-471)
Manna showed man that God's creative capacity had not been exhausted by His original creation. His mighty command could still bring sustenance and help in other ways. The mannah also taught man that His heavenly Father would not abandon him ; the extended desert journey to the Promsed Land made this quite clear. Later the mature people, who lacked nothing, should not forget the hardships of their youth and God's marvelous help. They had been well provided throughout their childhood.
Manna was the nourishment of the divine beings dedicated only to God (Ps. 78:25); they never sowed or reaped, but were alive and strong. If matzah was the daily bread of nobility, then manna was matzah become sublime, a symbol of freedom from everything worldly and of heavenly nobility. The forty years of manna in the desert may be equated with Moses' forty-day sojourn on the Mountain of God during which "he ate no bread and drank no water." Although the Bedouin maintained himself through theft in the desert, Israel was sustain by God's hand.
In this period Israel could not and should not attempt to sustain itself, but depend upon God alone; Israel recognized that this divine care renewed itself each morning and did not cease.
Life and God's constant re-creation is experience most readily by us all when we see the early morning dew; all life again seems fresh and new. The ancient Israelites who lacked faith may also hve risen early to inspect the manna collected on the previous day, but they would have found that it has rotted.
The term Shabbat appears here for the first time in context of Shabbat Kodesh. "Manna threfore became a form of preparation for the sanctification of the Sabbath proclaimed on Sinai and set for man by divine example." ... "Our narrative concludes with the words, 'therefore the people observed the Sabbath on the seventh day.' With this they recognized the supremacy of heaven over earth, of the eternal over the temporal. Manna, divine bread from heaven, was a miracle, and the fact that no manna fell on the Sabbath was the climax of that miracle,. Israel had now experienced the Sabbath as a blessed day and realized that its blessing could be attained solely by keeping it holy."
No name (for the manna) would be used until the Israelites themselves provided it. This occurred only after all Israel together, as a single household, had observed the Sabbath. Meals have always united families, but only on the Sabbath, when everyone was present and the meal was specifically provided by God, did the Israelites realize the treasure which they possessed in their family and in the Sabbath. Only an Israelite who was celebrating the Sabbath could have known the meaning of manna