“Here, these have Elsa.” I offered a pair with the cartoon princesses pasted on the shoe’s insole.
“No,” my daughter protested, “I want Elsa on the outside!”
In general, I’m not a fan of mass media attempts to suggest that shoes – and life in general – are more desirable for their offer of affiliation with celebrities. But I try to be selective in my battles. We chose Elsa on the outside.
Later I was struck by what seemed to me a familiar inside/outside tug of war. In my own life, given the choice between seeing blessings manifest on the outside or trusting that they reside inwardly, I know which I prefer.
I like seeing big bank statements over small ones with the knowledge that G-d’s got my back. I like feeling an easy rapport with my wife and children over trusting in the potential for warm interaction. I like confidence and peace of mind over stress with the ability to access boundless wisdom and perspective.
Alas, it seems G-d designed life to offer us moment to moment the choice to look toward either an outer or inner world. Hence the lesson of the manna in this week’s portion.
The verse says to “be careful, lest you forget Hashem, your G-d…who feeds you manna…in order to [test and elevate you].” The Talmud records two opinions about the test of the manna.
Opinion one: manna was available for one day’s supply at a time. Try as the rational mind might, it was impossible to plan ahead for one’s material needs. My might, or a source beyond?
Opinion two: the manna looked like no food that was familiar and it was tasteless but for the taste experience the eater intended. Neither sight nor inherent taste offered a satisfying eating experience. One had no choice but to look inward.
We’re always being offered the inside outside paradigm. We’ll often choose Elsa on the outside. Elsa on the inside is never far away.