First posted on The Times of Israel at: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/truma-bread-of-faith/
Baal Haturim Exodus: Trumah
Bread of Faith
There is hunger for ordinary bread, and there is hunger for love, for kindness, for thoughtfulness; and this is the great poverty that makes people suffer so much. -Mother Theresa
The Baal Haturim on Exodus 26:9 states that in the merit of the service of the Table of the Showbread in the Temple, the entire world was bestowed with blessings.
Story: A simple baker was reading the Torah portion. He read about the Showbread that the priests placed in the Temple every week. He felt bad for God that since the destruction of the Temple, nobody was giving God bread anymore. He decided that in honor of the Sabbath, he would place two loaves of Challah, the traditional bread for the Sabbath, in the Ark of the Torah in the synagogue. He was so excited about his decision, he woke up before dawn Friday morning and placed the very first loaves he had baked in the Ark, with a short prayer to God to accept his offering.
In the same synagogue there was a poor caretaker who had fallen on hard times. He couldn’t afford Challah for that Sabbath. That Thursday night in the synagogue, he cried and pleaded to God to help him, that he should not come to his family empty-handed. As was his ritual, every Friday morning, he cleaned up the synagogue for the Sabbath. He opened the Ark to check on the Torah, and lo and behold! Two warm fresh Challahs were waiting there for him. The caretaker cried for joy, thanking God for this miracle, for remembering him after all and listening to his prayer.
The baker arrived early Friday afternoon to the synagogue, curious as to what had happened to his loaves. He opened the Ark, and to his surprise, the loaves were gone! God had accepted his humble offering! Encouraged, the baker did the same thing the following Friday. The caretaker was humbled and moved each time he found the warm, fresh bread. This cycle continued for months, both the baker and the caretaker filled with an extraordinary joy, yet unaware of each others actions.
One Friday, the Rabbi of the synagogue woke up early and decided to do some studying in the back of the synagogue. Unnoticed, the Rabbi saw the baker bring in his loaves and put them in the Ark and reverently bestow them to God. Later, he saw the caretaker gingerly, lovingly, removing them and thanking God. The Rabbi understood immediately the error these simpletons were making. He called them both and berated them: “You fools! God is not placing or receiving the Challah. It is your own human hands that are responsible.” Both the baker and the caretaker stood there ashamed, while their foolishness was brought to light and their simple faith shattered.
That night, the Prophet Elijah came to the Rabbi in a dream: “You evil man!” Elijah screamed at the Rabbi. “God has not had as much joy in the world, since the service of the Showbread in the Temple was stopped, as when the baker delivered the Challah, and the caretaker received it, and they both displayed a pure, simple faith. Know that the evil you have done cannot be undone and you have caused great anguish to God!”
Sometimes, simple faith is the best.
To our baker, Netanel, on his first batch of successful and tasty biscochos!