Cold Look!

At the conclusion of our Parsha, the Torah speaks of a disturbing incident where a Jew uttered a curse against G-d.

What triggered him to do such an abominable thing?

Rashi quotes Reb Brachia who says that the one who cursed had an issue with the command in the Torah immediately preceding this incident. The Torah command was the laws of the Lechem Hapanim – the 12 loaves of Showbread that were placed on the Table in the Temple. He had an issue with the Showbread. Reb Brachia says that the one who cursed began to make a mockery of the Showbread by stating, “Doesn’t a king eat fresh baked bread daily? – And here we have this stale cold bread that is sitting around for nine days.” He continued by mocking and demeaning the Showbread procedure, and his dismissiveness of the Mitzvah led him to utter a curse against G-d.

We must give some background about the Showbread at this point.

There was a family by the name of Garmu who held the tradition of how to create and bake the Showbread. Each loaf of bread was quite large, and was called Lechem Hapanim – literally, the bread of faces, because of its unusual form. Its framework faced all different directions and it was also chometz free.

The breads were baked in the Temple on Friday, and on Shabbos, Kohanim/priests would enter the Temple with the new batch of Showbread. They would place the new breads next to the breads that were on the Table which were removed by pressing the new against the old. It was performed this way because the Torah commands that Showbread always be upon on the Table of the Temple.

Six of these loaves of Showbread were distributed to the group of Kohanim who served the past week in the Temple, and six of the loaves were distributed to the incoming group of Kohanim that would serve the coming week in the Temple.

What is amazing and miraculous about the Showbread is that it remained hot and fresh throughout the nine days from when it was baked until it was distributed! The Talmud relates that everyone saw the hot steam rising from the Showbread, days after it was placed on the Table. Also, in the Book of Samuel it states that the Kohanim received hot bread when it was distributed.

If so, how could the one who cursed claim that it was cold?

The Imrei Emes explains that although the Showbread was called Lechem Hapanim – because of the various facets of its construction, there is a deeper way of understanding Lechem Hapanim. It can be translated literally, “the bread of faces.” The breads had a miraculous nature; they reflected the ‘face’ of every person who looked at it. The way the person perceived the Showbread was commensurate to the level of trust and belief he had in the Almighty.

Similar to what King Solomon states in the Book of Proverbs, ‘As water reflects one’s face, so too, the heart of one man reflects the heart of another.’  There is a mirror effect.

A person who possessed a deep Emunah – trust in the Almighty – saw the hot steam and delicious freshness of the Showbread even after many days sitting on the Table which had no heating elements.

However, if someone looked at the Showbread with a cold heart – lacking trust and belief in the Almighty, the bread reflected his cold ‘face’ and he didn’t see any steam, warmth or freshness.

The cold position and view towards the Almighty and His laws of the one who cursed, distorted his perception of the breads and he saw them as cold and frosty, without meaning and substance, and this led him to do the unthinkable, to curse G-d.

Uttering such a curse toward G-d was so unfathomable, that the Torah relates that our leader Moshe was unsure what punishment was required, and Moshe needed to ask G-d how to proceed.

Regarding one’s inner feelings towards G-d, His Torah and Mitzvos, the closer one feels to G-d and His Torah, the more inspired he is by it, and the opposite occurs if he lacks that respect and trust in G-d.

We are now actually witnessing this phenomenon of seeing something the way one perceives it – with the great degree and extent of anti-Semitic rhetoric that is spewed forth by seemingly intelligent people against us. Many of these people don’t understand what they are saying and have never interacted with a Jew.

To give you an example, I was food shopping and checking out at a local supermarket Friday of Easter weekend, and the cashier wished me not once, but twice, a happy Easter. I looked up and realized that it wasn’t a dig toward me, rather she had no clue what my Yarmuka represented.

So where does this vile and revolting assault against us come from? Perhaps when one is void of spiritual direction, their perception is skewed and out of line. They are blind to the goodness and G-dliness which we represent.

We have seen attacks against our innocent brothers. We see the vile chants, accusations and the disdain they have towards us and what we believe in. We see hatred, carnage, innocent hostages, barbaric acts and terror. We see Israel defending itself and the lives of its citizens from ruthless and relentless neighboring terror groups. Yet, our foes and haters just don’t see it, or better yet, they can’t see it – because their face towards us is twisted, cold and senseless.

We pray for the day when the verse of the Torah, “Then all the peoples of the earth will see that the Name of the Almighty is proclaimed over you, and they will revere you,” will be achieved!