Beshalach: Where is the manna sample?

G-d commanded Moses to preserve a manna sample for future generations “in order that they see the bread that I fed you in the desert when I took you out of the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 16:32-34). 

For reasons unknown, the sample isn’t in the Israel Museum; I’ve looked.  

So, I have a few questions:  

•    Assuming that the account is historical truth, how long did the sample exist, and what happened to it?  Rabbinic tradition holds that it, along with the Ark of the Covenant, was hidden in advance of the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem about 586 BCE – and that G-d will reveal its location in due course.  Is it, as various theorists claim, under the Temple Mount? Buried at Mt. Nebo (a ridge in modern-day Jordan from which, the Torah states, Moses viewed the Promised Land)? In Egypt? In Ethiopia? 
•    Why have we no biblical account of any prophet, priest, or king producing it to the disobedient and misbehaving people as irrefutable evidence of G-d’s authority and miracles for the Jewish people?  Why is there no reference in Tanakh to the loss of such an important artifact?    
•    Manna continued to be provided for forty years. (Joshua 5:12).  Why did a sample have to be gathered when it first appeared, and transported for forty years? (One answer is that, pursuant to a Biblical exegesis principle, the Torah is not chronological, and so Moses may not have communicated G-d’s command until shortly before he died.  Rabbi S.R. Hirsch’s answer is that the command to preserve one omerful full of manna was intended to make it clear to the generation of the wilderness that someday their wanderings in the wilderness would come to an end and that they eventually would be able to obtain their sustenance under normal conditions.  The Pentateuch, 273. ). 
•    Is the absence of any mention of the manna sample analogous to Sherlock Holmes’s “Dog that Didn’t Bark in the Night” (from the story Silver Blaze), in which a non-occurrence of an expected consequence (subsequent Bible mention) disproved the occurrence of the event?  
•    Why would G-d command the preservation of something that G-d, being G-d, would have known would eventually be lost or destroyed?
•    If the Torah is the work, not of G-d nor of Moses, but rather of later authors, why did they include (create?) this passage when the sample was no longer extant?   
•    How different would world history be if the manna sample had never been lost? Would Christianity and Islam have emerged?  What if it were discovered now or in the future?  Would there be a war over possession?  Would Jews who do not currently accept the Torah as Divine, or people who do not believe in G-d at all, change their views? 
•    Does Social Security, or food-stamps, represent a kind of “manna?”  Why did G-d create hunger in the first place? 

I’m confident that if you read Exodus 16:32-34 and ponder them for a few minutes, you’ll come up with additional questions of your own.  

It’s not important that we have “the,” nor even any, answers.  What is vitally important, though, is to keep pondering and discussing them, most especially with our children and grandchildren, whatever their ages.  (Perhaps starting with questions like: Do we have any manna in our house? Can we buy some at the store?  On the internet? Why not? What do you think it tasted like? When G-d gave the Israelites “chicken” (quail; Ex. 16:13) did they make sandwiches with the manna?)  

When is the last time you discussed any question of biblical interpretation with your children or grandchildren??  Or even, enjoyed an "intellectual" discussion of a Torah topic with your adult loved ones and friends? 

Doing so is a crucial part of keeping the Jewish people alive. This Shabbat would be a good time.  

Shabbat shalom!

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Jewish Proverb