Is there a connection between “Manna,” the food from heaven that sustained the Children of Israel in the Sinai wilderness, and a World War II humanitarian military operation?

On the verge of an allied victory in the European theater of World War II, air squadrons, representing the air forces of Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Poland, carried out humanitarian food drops to the starving citizens of German-occupied Holland.

Dubbed “Operation Manna,” the food drops began on April 29, 1945 by Royal Air Force planes, prior to the declaration of any ceasefire. The cargo was dropped from altitudes of 120-150 meters, as parachutes were not deployed for this mission. Since the allied pilots could see the German anti-aircraft guns following their trajectories, the allied planes flew at “roof level,” which was less vulnerable. A few days later, the Americans joined the operation, dubbed “Chowhound.” Operation Manna continued until May 7th, while Chowhound continued one more day. Operation Manna delivered 6,680 tons of food to the 3 million Dutch citizens under German occupation.

The timing of Operation Manna is interesting, since, according to Jewish tradition, it was, at this time of year that the manna ceased to fall for the ancient Israelites.

The book of Joshua (chapter 5) claims that prior to entering the land of Canaan, Joshua circumcised all of the Hebrew males. The Children of Israel encamped in the plains of Jericho in a place named Gilgal (Hebrew for cycle or roll), named because God “rolled away” the shame of Egypt from them. The Jews celebrated the paschal offering there, at its appointed time (14th of Nisan), and offered the omer offering at its proper time, two days later. Scripture then reports (Joshua 5:12): “And the manna ceased on the next day after they had eaten of the old grain of the land; nor had the people of Israel manna anymore; but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

Rashi, however, claims that the manna ceased falling upon the death of Moses, 5 weeks earlier on the 7th of Adar. Miraculously, the Children of Israel were able to eat manna that remained in their vessels until the 17th of Nisan, when all the reserve manna was entirely consumed.

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