Savings Accounts vs. Manna from Heaven

Question of the week:

When G_d supplied manna to the Hebrews, He told them to gather only what they needed for the day. Not doing so showed a lack of faith in His provision. If we are to trust in Him for our daily provision, why do we save money “for a rainy day?” Now that I am retired, I see our savings as a blessing but also as a possible stumbling block. Is my trust still in Him or in our savings?

Maybe the answer to my question is that each person needs to look in their own heart for the answer but isn’t the heart a great deceiver? I hope you can answer this.

Bill G.

Dear Bill,

If we may respond to your last point first, we agree that looking into our own hearts is a terrible idea. Not only foolish actions, but even evil ones, have been carried out when people’s hearts misled them. Our hearts can be notoriously manipulative and our consciences notoriously elastic. Where examining our hearts can be of great help is when we look inside ourselves to try and understand our own deep and hidden motivations. We are then better prepared to withstand wrong temptations from our hearts.

You may be surprised to hear that moving off a system of manna from Heaven to one that follows the laws of the real world was difficult for the generation that came out of Egypt. Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that one of the reasons that the generation so easily became fearful and disheartened at the return of the spies (Numbers 13-14) was their misgiving at leaving the miraculous existence they had enjoyed since leaving Egypt, including having their daily food provided for them. They understood that, once in the land of Israel, they would need to fend for themselves and to become subject to the laws of the real world. They were naturally apprehensive. Imagine a family that has been living on the dole, for several decades suddenly being told that all payments were about to cease and that they would all have to find jobs and keep them if they wished to eat.

The Manna was never intended to be the model for humankind’s economic organization. It was clearly and openly provided by God with no involvement whatsoever from the children of Israel, specifically for the time in the desert. God’s only requirements were that they were to study the Bible that Moses had brought down from Mt. Sinai, maintain faith that the manna would continue and express gratitude. Those were the required payments.

When it comes to any time other than those 40 years of open miracles, savings are very recommended. That, indeed, was one of Joseph’s gifts to the Egyptians as he oversaw their filling of the storehouses during years of plenty. A lovely story from ancient Jewish wisdom tells of a traveler who passed an old man planting a carob tree. The passer-by scoffs a bit, taunting the old man that there is no way he will be alive when the tree bears edible fruit. The elderly man responds that he is planting not for himself, but for his children and grandchildren. That too, is a form of a savings account.

At the same time as we must make human efforts to be financially responsible, which includes saving for the future, we simultaneously understand that there is no guarantee that our efforts will be rewarded. Things happen. Economies crash, wars break out, markets implode, criminals (both in the government or in gangs) gain the upper hand as society crumbles. Even inflation, itself a moral failing of the government can utterly obliterate a healthy savings portfolio. We cannot rely only upon our savings as a foolproof plan. Even with a lavish savings account, it is best to pray to God for sustenance and societal stability, and recognize Him as our benefactor. In the final analysis, God is the sole entity upon which we can rely. Nonetheless, if we don’t make our own efforts, including savings, we have no credible leg on which to stand when asking Him to bless our efforts.

Wishing you a healthy savings account,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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13 thoughts on “Savings Accounts vs. Manna from Heaven”

  1. My my where do I start. If you go to your friend for a loan, he or she too has been saving and hoarding. If you go to the bank for a loan, you need to have credentials and the banks hoard money. So somewhere there is hoarding going on. So it is best for the individual to do their own hoarding/savings.

    1. Hoarding is a loaded word, Hope. I think of it either as negative or else as something connected to an emergency, while I think of savings as positive. However, you are correct that having some savings allows us to help others.

  2. Awesome lesson Rabbi……thank you so much……will have to share with my brothers and sisters in the faith.

  3. I understand also, based on Deut. 8:3, that it provided the spiritual application that in addition to the manna, they were also to live by the Word of God’s mouth. Since the manna had to be gathered daily, we need to read God’s Word daily in order to be spiritually sound.

  4. Like Mr. Bill G., I have wondered if perhaps I was putting too much trust in my savings account instead of the Lord. Your answer explained it clearly thanks to Ancient Jewish Wisdom.
    Your comment on Mr. G.’s last point really needed to be said. There was a common scene on family TV shows, where a child confides to an adult; and the grown-up says something like, “Your heart will know the answer when the time comes.” No it won’t if the parent doesn’t teach the child morals and ethics and about life!
    Thank you Rabbi and Mrs. Lapin for sharing the invaluable Ancient Jewish Wisdom.

  5. Thank you for sharing God’s wisdom. Being a widow living in a homeless shelter is not the best life for anyone. At the age of 71 receiving this wonderful teaching is perfect for any age. So, to those wondering about your(saving) bond stocks, financial decisions and preparing for the future, please do so and especially with the help of Rabbi Daniel Lapin and his lovely wife Susan Lapin. So that you will not experience the state I am in at the moment (but, not for long)again which is age 71, Homeless, broke, widow, with no children.
    It’s never to late
    M. L. A. J. L.

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