When the bread the Jewish people brought with them for their Exodus from Egypt had run out, G-d provided them with Manna that miraculously descended each day from the Heavens. Of course, we’re all curious what Heavenly bread tasted like. The Talmud (Yoma 75b) cites three different flavors listed in the Torah: bread, oil, and honey, and explains that for older people it tasted like bread, for the youth it tasted like oil, and for the little children it tasted like honey.

There is also a well-known Midrash (Sifrei Behaloscha 87) that says the taste was different for each person – whatever flavor you desired at the time, it miraculously had that flavor. While this is quite interesting, it directly contradicts the Torah’s statements that it had one of three flavors!

Rabbi Shimon Schwab zt”l explains (Mayan Beis Hashoeva 174) that when someone would eat the Manna for the sole purpose of satisfying their hunger, it would taste like one of the flavors listed in the Torah. If their consumption was for the sake of enjoyment, the taste was whatever flavor they had in mind.

As an aside, Rav Schwab says he once had the opportunity to spend Shabbos in the home of the holy Chofetz Chaim (Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan zt”l). Rabbi Kagan asked those present, “What did the Manna taste like if you did not think of anything when you were eating it?” After no-one attempted an answer he said, “I’ll tell you. When there is no thought, there is no taste.” He went on to explain that spiritual matters, like the Manna, only have taste if you are mindful of what you are doing. The same, he explained, is the nature of Torah study. If you think about what you’re studying, and plumb its depths to understand it, you will taste the sweetness of G-d’s word (As the Chofetz Chaim said this, he put his fingers to his mouth, as if he were savoring the sensation he described). However, if you simply sit in front of the book, and read the words with little to no understanding, there is no taste at all. The richness of the Torah’s flavor, as well as any spiritual endeavor, follows the degree of thought you apply.

When you learn Torah, invest yourself into it, think carefully and deeply, and you’ll find yourself enjoying a sizzling, mouth watering piece of Torah. Bon Appetit!