As the Jews navigate through the desert rife with complaints for the lack of water and then food, G-d advises Moshe that He will provide bread [manna] from heaven (16:4) and that people will receive only what is needed for a given day. G-d instructs that people must gather “d’var yom b’yomo,” which means to collect only their daily allotment, but literally means “the daily thing on its day.” What is the daily “thing” that G-d alludes to? Why would G-d not simply use the word for food (ochel)?
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig suggests that the point of the manna was not just to provide sustenance for the people but to build a daily connection between G-d and His newly unified people. This explains why people were instructed to take only what they needed for that day, so that the next day could offer yet another opportunity for connection with G-d as our provider. Essentially then, the “thing” isn’t necessarily food at all; it is our daily connection to G-d. We can now understand that G-d is showing us that eating (and living in the broader sense) is devoid of meaning if not used as an opportunity for daily connection.