Letter from the editor

Dear readers,

In the course of the Sabbath meal, the Hasidic master Rabbi Moshe of Kobryn[*] once took a piece of bread in his hand and said to his hasidim (followers):

"It is written: 'Man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord does man live' (Deut. 8:3). The life of man is not sustained by the stuff of bread but by the sparks of divine life that are within it. He is here. All exists because of his life-giving life, and when He withdraws from anything, it crumbles away to nothing."

Hebrew: Not by bread alone

In this issue, we bring you some of the sparks of divine life that exist in the "stuff of bread." The season of Shavuot, the time of the wheat harvest, is certainly an appropriate time to do so. We learn about the bread of display (lehem ha-panim), an ancient Israelite sacrificial offering, and about the desert manna, miraculous any way you understand it. We then look at a later, rabbinic commandment to separate out a small portion of dough of the bread we bake, in commemoration of the priestly tithe, and Dr. Chava Weissler introduces us to a neglected literary genre related to this ancient ritual. And the rabbis of the Talmud tell us the advantages in eating bread, and how it best be eaten.

Rabbi Abraham Millgram discusses the historical evolution of the Grace after Meals. Martin Buber brings us several Hasidic tales whose message is transmitted through the symbol of bread. An Afghanistani Jewish folktale, "The King's Loaves," teaches a lesson about sharing and appreciation. We discover spiritual implications in a most mundane situation, a man ordering bread in a restaurant, in Nobel Laureate S.Y. Agnon's short story, "A Whole Loaf."

And finally, Dr. Lowin's analysis of the Hebrew rootword l-h-m finds a fascinating connection between bread, war and welding.

Bon appetit.

[*] d. 1814; Moshe of Kobryn was a disciple of Mordecai of Lekhovitz. [back]




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