The Jews ate leftovers in the desert. We’re continuing a longstanding tradition.
Leftovers: Kids hate them and adults love them (some of them, at least). As the saying goes, what’s the difference between a bochur (single yeshiva student) and yungerman (married yeshiva student)? The bochur eats cholent Thursday night, Shabbos at night, and Shabbos by day. The yungerman, however, eats it at Shabbos by day, Sunday night, and Monday night.
We know everything comes from the Torah, so where is leftovers alluded to?
Today’s Food; Yesterday’s Mon
Many of the things we do or eat on Shabbos is in order to remember the mon. Amongst them is the reason we use lechem mishna₁ (two loaves of bread), why we eat kugel₂, and why we cover the challah₃.
The reason we have lechem mishnah on Shabbos to remember the mann is, although every day the mann fell enough for a few days, the Torah forbade leaving over mann from one day to the next. Instead, the mann fell anew with each day. On Shabbos, however, the mann did not fall. Instead, on Friday two portions fell. Therefore on Shabbos we have two challahs which is symbolic of the two portions of mann.
What Did the Generation of the Desert Eat on Yom Tov?
There is a disagreement amongst the Rishonim if the mon fell on Yom Tov, the Rashba₄ is of the opinion that it did not fall. If this is case, asks Rav Elyashiv zt”l₅, if the first day of Yom Tov is a Sunday, we should have three breads. Since, in the midbar, if Yom Tov was on Sunday, no mon fell on that day, then how was there food on that Yom Tov? Therefore, the obvious conclusion should be that on Friday there was three portions of mon, for Friday, Shabbos, and Yom Tov.
If this is true, then why don’t we have three challahs on that Yom Tov, in order to remember the three portions of mon that fell on Friday before a Yom Tov?
The Torah Source of Leftovers
Rav Elyashiv comes up with two answers; the second one is relevant to our discussion. The Torah forbids saving mon from one day to the next. The one exception to that rule was that the mon for Shabbos was allowed to be eaten on Sunday. The reason for this is, since the portion of Shabbos fell on Friday and the Torah allowed it to be saved for Shabbos, it was allowed to be saved for the rest of the week. If this is the case, we now know why we don’t eat three challahs on Yom Tov when it falls out on Sunday. In truth, there were always only two portions on Friday, and part of the portion of Shabbos was saved for Yom Tov.
Perhaps the next time your kids complain about eating leftovers, tell them that even in the midbar the Jews ate leftovers on Sunday, and in fact, it was the only day leftovers was allowed. Your children will be another link in a long line of leftovers eaters.
Note: Rabbi Pinchas Katzenelnboigen, a Rabbi in the early 18th century, records his eating schedule in his autobiography, Yesh Manchilin, “For my evening meals, I eat as all do, Sunday we eat what is leftover from Shabbos…” (page 319).
- OC”H 274
- OC”H 242
- OC”H 271
- Beitzah 4
- Chidushei HaRashba Mosad Harav Kook in the footnotes