THE MANNA, the staple food on which our ancestors subsisted for fony years in the desert, is referred to in the Torah by three different names. In Exodus 16:15 it is spoken of as lechem--bread; sixteen verses later it is referred to as dvash--honey; and in Numbers 11:8 it is called shemen--oil.

In commenting on these three names, our sages say that each major age group saw in the rnan~ something especially suitable to their needs and tastes. "To the young people, manna was bread; to the old it was oil; and to the children it was honey" (Exod. Rab. 25; Yalkut Exod. 258).

I would like to apply this saying of the rabbis to the spiritual manna of our people, namely the Synagogue. From my experience as a rabbi I know that there is no stronger sustaining element in the spiritual diet of our people that keeps us from spiritual want and famine than the traditional shule. It is our veritable ruach ha-chayim that keeps and sustains us through the centuries.

To young people the Synagogue is lechem--bread. The crucial need for Jewish young men and women is for something substantial and solid in their spiritual and intellectual diet. Because of their general education and training, and because of their intellectual involvements in mundane matters, they require programs and activities that are relevant to their lives. Thus educational and recreational programs should be designed with their special needs and interests in mind. The Synagogue should be the place where a young person should want to spend a free evening or a few leisure hours to study subjects of Jewish content, hear a lecture on a current problem, or simply meet friends. Without this lechem that they desparately need, our youth will drift and become estranged from us. Many of the embittered and self-hating Jews are those who were starved for lechem in the formative period of their lives by short-sighted communities.

The manna for the old is shemen--oil. As we grow older, we are advised by doctors and nutritionists to subsist on a softer diet. Spiritually it is the same. Senior citizens need classes in Ayin Yaakov, Ethics of the Fathers, and Shulchan Arukh. These subjects appeal to the imagination and soothe the feelings and emotions of those who are facing the twilight zone of life. For those who come from Eastern Europe, an occasional sermon in Yiddish will serve as a tonic and a festive delight. The older group, who generally constitute the major number of attendees of the daily minyan, should be made to feel that the shule is their second home. An occasional kiddush or special treat will brighten their association with one another and with the Synagogue, and will make life more meaningful and old age more tolerable for them.

For the children the shule should be dvash--honey. Years ago it was the custom that when a child was brought for the first time to Cheder---to the Jewish School--pennies and goodies dipped in honey were thrown from above, to implant in the child the feeling that Torah is sweet-that Torah iz dee besste sechorah. We, in our time, should do no less. Every Festival, including Chanukah, Purim, Tu Bi-Shevat and LagB'Omer, should be made for the little ones memorable occasions of sweetness, joy and delight. The memories of these happy moments will have a powerful influence on their lives. It will induce them to partake of the lechem of Judaism in their maturity, and to enjoy the shemen of Yiddishkeit in their old age.

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