ויותירו אנשים ממנו עד בוקר.
“And people left over from it until the morning.” (Shemos 16:20)
The manna fell each day anew and the Jewish people were required to collect their daily portion of manna in the morning. They had to consume the full portion each day, without leaving any leftovers for the next day. However, the Torah says that some people disobeyed and did leave over from the manna for the following morning.
Who were these people? Rashi says: “Dasan and Aviram.” These two individuals had a record of stirring up trouble while still in Egypt, and once out in the desert they repeatedly tested Hashem and Moshe.
How can we understand this? Dasan and Aviram saw with their own eyes all of the miracles that Hashem performed. They saw the ten plagues, the splitting of the sea, and the manna coming down from heaven. Why were they still challenging Hashem by disobeying His command?
We are left wondering about something else. Rashi tells us that only a fifth of the Jewish people were actually redeemed from Egypt. The Jews who were lacking in faith were found unworthy of being redeemed, and they died in Egypt during the days of darkness. Why weren’t Dasan and Aviram left behind in Egypt? They were known to be wicked even in Egypt. They informed on Moshe to Pharaoh, endangering his life. Why didn’t such reshaim die during the days of darkness?
The commentators say that Dasan and Aviram tried to instigate the Jewish people to refuse to leave Egypt. When they saw the wicked dying, they switched tracks and began to proclaim their readiness to leave Egypt. Still, given their past deeds and their outspoken opposition to Moshe, why were they redeemed?
In fact, Dasan and Aviram were not just redeemed together with the entire Jewish people, but a special miracle was performed just for them. Being informants, they were the ones who told Pharaoh that the Jewish people were not planning to return to Egypt as they initially said, but they will be fleeing Egypt forever. Later on when they returned to the Red Sea, they arrived after the sea had split and then returned to its natural state; they missed their chance of crossing the sea in the miraculous fashion that their brethren did just hours before. Our sages say that the sea split especially for them, to enable them to pass through and join their tribe! Why did they deserve such a special miracle, when they were far from righteous?
The explanation for this is that Hashem “extends His hand to sinners.” Hashem has endless patience and waits for the wicked to repent. Even for the worst possible Jew – if he has a desire to do tshuva – Hashem would split the sea for him. Not only would the sea be split for him, but it would split “only” for him, exclusively for him. This is a tremendous encouragement for all of us and shows us that one is never too far from Hashem. We only need to turn to Him and He will extend His love to us, openly and miraculously.