Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Emor
To dedicate this lesson

The Baking of Kiddush Hashem


Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Iyar 11 5778
No, the above title is not a typo! Just be patient for a bit!

Among the many items in Emor are Kiddush Hashem & its opposite, Chilul Hashem (Sanctification/Desecration of G-d); & the Lechem HaPanim, the "show-bread" placed upon the table in the Mishkan. Let us combine these two diverse subjects into one special little story.

He once was a baker, who eked out a living in his small village. But now that he was old, his hands could not knead as they once did, & the oven’s fire was too hot for him. And so he turned his job over to a younger man.

He wanted to thank Hashem for his ability to work for so many years, but he was poor, & all he knew how to do was bake. Then one day he read this Parsha about the bread in the Bet HaMikdash, & a joyous idea occurred to him. He baked 12 loaves of Challa, & late one night he climbed through the shul window & placed them in the Aron Kodesh. "This is my offering to G-d!" he exclaimed.

On Shabbat morning, when the shamash opened the Aron to prepare the Torah, he was amazed to see - & smell – 12 fresh Challot! He had no idea where they came from, but he took them & gave them to the poor. When the baker came to shul later, & saw that the loaves were gone, he was ecstatic: "G-d has accepted my offering!" he rejoiced.

This scene repeated itself for weeks, until one day the shamash was cleaning the shul & saw the baker come in and place the Challot in the Aron. He smiled, & said nothing. But unbeknownst to them both, there was another man, a very wealthy man, who was quietly davening in the corner, & he saw all this, too.

The next Shabbat the wealthy man stood up in shul & proudly announced: "I have solved the mystery of the Challot! It is the old baker who put them in the Aron, foolishly believing that G-d Himself took them! But it was the shamash, & not G-d, who disposed of them!" And he laughed a coarse and conceited laugh.

The baker was so humiliated that he ran home & did not return to shul for weeks. Then, one night, the shamash had a dream. G-d appeared to him & said, "I have not been given such a pure & holy gift since My Temple was destroyed! Tell the baker I miss his offering. As for the wealthy man, his fate has already been decided."

The shamash rushed to the baker & pleaded for him to return & continue his gift of Challot – which he finally agreed to do. As for the other man, his fortunes soon turned, & he lost all of his money. He was seen years later, in tattered pants, on the streets of a nearby city - begging for a piece of bread.

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