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Rabbi's Blog: For The Birds...

02/03/2023 12:52:56 PM


Dear OZ family,


There is a custom on the Shabbat of Parshat Beshalach to leave crumbs for birds. The source of this custom is the Midrash about the Mahn that fell six days a week in the desert. Moshe said that any Mahn left over from one day to the next would spoil, except on Friday night. Since the Mahn would not fall on Shabbat, the double portion that fell on Friday would last for two days and would not spoil. Chazal say that Datan and his brother Aviram were so intent on proving that Moshe was wrong about the Mahn not falling on Shabbat, that they took some of their own double-portion and scattered it around the camp on Friday night, so that people would wake up in the morning and consider that the Mahn did indeed fall, contrary to Moshe’s words.


That never happened because shortly after the Mahn was scattered around the camp, birds came to devour the crumbs. In reward, we feed birds on the Shabbat when the story is read. The point of the Minhag is not really to support birds. Whatever birds need has been amply supplied to them by their Creator. It’s really about showing gratitude. It’s about us asking ourselves, if there is any debt of gratitude I may owe, is there a Thank You card I can write?


We’re constantly doing things today that commemorate events from long ago. That’s what it means to have a Mesorah, and the Mesorah of feeding the birds on Parshat Beshalach is to show Hakarat Hatov. That means to recognize all our gifts and all our goodness. May this Shabbat Shira fill our hearts with song and gratitude to the Almighty, and may we all enjoy the spiritual warmth of the day.


Please be cognizant of the bitter cold that is upon us. There will be gloves in the front lobby of the shul for everyone to share with someone who is cold. Stay warm , safe and healthy.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Allen Schwartz 

Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street | New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200 | Fax 212.663-3635



Mon, May 29 2023 9 Sivan 5783