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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

What's Your Manna?

In Parshat B'Shalach there is much talk of food and water. The mysterious food called Manna is introduced. In the text it is said to taste like coriander, like wafers in honey, but in the Midrash the following is said:

“God brought down for them the manna, in which all kinds of flavors lodged, so that each Israelite could taste in it anything they particularly liked” (Exodus Rabbah 25:3). The young men ate it as bread. To the elderly it tasted like wafers made with honey. To infants it tasted like milk from their mothers’ breasts. To the sick it was like fine flour mingled with honey. To the heathen its taste was bitter like coriander seed. Even though it was all of “one kind,” the manna “became converted into so many kinds to suit the capacity of each individual” (Ex. Rabbah 5:9). *

In 2021 many of us are cooking at home and many of us order in, but so many of us miss the experience of eating together. The magic of the manna in this poem is not just about imagining the food, but imagining eating the food with those we love. It's a tasty dream and it will come true.

What's Your Manna?

What's your manna?

It's 2021 and we can dream of manna

falling from the sky each morning

into our hungry imaginations

Imagining meeting

family and friends.

Dreams of restaurants,

picnics at the park.

Coffee shops in the neighborhood

crowded, steamy, close

Barbecues at the beach

Manna, manna, manna

Manna, manna, manna

What's your manna ?

Is it a burger smothered with toppings?

Is it a shared plate of watermelon

Sizzling french fries?

A pizza right from the oven?

Hmmmm, mmmmmmm!

Cousins, uncles and aunts and grandkids

Sitting and enjoying together.


Ice cream sundaes dripping with hot fudge

with friends sitting on a bench

on a steamy July day

No masks!

Name your flavor

Imagine it melting, dripping

Smiles and jokes and laughter.

Manna, manna, manna!

Your manna might be a brisket on a Shabbat afternoon

Your table crowded with family

or a spicy chili at a favorite food truck

Maybe it's a gooey grilled cheese sandwich

at your grandma's or

popcorn at your best friend's house

or donuts at Dunky D's

Manna, manna, manna

It's a bit of a miracle

The manna recipe?

A cup of imagination

A tablespoon of family

A generous sprinkling of friends

That's it!

Eating together

the pleasure of seeing each other

Manna, manna, manna

Make it taste its spiciest,

sweetest, pickliest,

juiciest, hottest,


syrupy, gooey,

crunchy, munchy,

tangy, toasty,

fragrant taste ever!

Manna 2021,

Imagine sharing it with family

with friends,

with those you love

It will happen

You can almost taste it!


Thank you to my talented niece, Brianna, for this beautiful illustration.

Exodus 16:31 from Sefaria

וַיִּקְרְא֧וּ בֵֽית־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל אֶת־שְׁמ֖וֹ מָ֑ן וְה֗וּא כְּזֶ֤רַע גַּד֙ לָבָ֔ן וְטַעְמ֖וֹ כְּצַפִּיחִ֥ת בִּדְבָֽשׁ׃ The house of Israel named it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and it tasted like wafers in honey.

*Quote from Midrash Rabba 5:9 was taken from "Manna story shows that God embraces our diversity" by Rabbi Mychal Copeland

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