The Divine Recipe
Parashat Terumah, Exodus 25:1–27:19
by Barri Cae Seif, Sar Shalom, Arlington, TX
Cooking was once one of my favorite pastimes. Years ago, in a cooking class, our team was assigned to cook breakfast, an easy endeavor for anyone. I had fixed breakfasts for years. Accidentally , however, I made chocolate milk before setting aside milk for the scrambled eggs. Imagine my surprise and horror when the instructor told that we had to take the milk that was set aside and put it in the scrambled eggs! Surprisingly, the eggs tasted great, but they looked awful. What a life lesson I had that day, learning to prepare, think ahead and read the recipe.
This week’s parshah, Terumah, begins with the instructions that God gave to Moshe about the construction of the sanctuary. Rabbi Hertz, in his commentary, noted, “As God was holy and as the sanctuary was holy, so much the Israelites make the sanctification of their lives the aim of all their endeavors.” God instructs, “From anyone whose heart compels him, you are to take my offering” (Exod 25:2). If an individual is moved to contribute, his or her offering is to be accepted. God then gives instructions for the construction of the Ark of the Covenant (Exod 25.10), with a pledge, “I will meet with you there. I will speak with you from above the atonement cover—from between the two keruvim that are on the Ark of the Testimony—about all that I will command you, for Bnei-Yisrael” (Exod 25:22).
The next piece of furniture is the table of showbread. Nothing was left to the imagination; everything had to be constructed exactly as God required. For almost 21 years, I was a manufacturer’s representative of residential roofing shingles. Your roof is like your head of hair (or lack thereof). If improperly addressed, the lack is obvious. These table directions were given by divine revelation. Moshe was told to place the table on the north side of the Holy Place. The light of the golden menorah revealed and illuminated the bread and the table. It was holy. Exodus 25:30 notes “Always set the bread of the presence (lechem ha-panim) on the table before me.” Hertz noted that the bread of the presence is “an expression of thankfulness and standing acknowledgment on the part of the children of Israel that God was the Giver of man’s daily necessities.”
God is the God of order and we see the divine recipe in Leviticus 24:7–8: “Also, you are to take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes of it, with two tenths of an ephah in each cake. Then you are to set them in two rows, six in a row, on the pure gold table before Adonai. Set pure frankincense on each row, as a memorial portion for the bread, an offering by fire to Adonai.” Fine flour is the initial ingredient for this divine recipe. This quality flour is broken and crushed into powder. Heat is applied through baking. The bread was the first fruits, the spiritual offering given to God, first. The bread was placed every Shabbat, on the day of rest and peace.
Now, in this 21st century, every Friday night, Jewish families all over the world say blessings to usher in Shabbat. Some families may say more, but at least three blessings are recited. One is giving thanks for the Sabbath and lighting the Sabbath candles, one is giving thanks to God for the fruit of the vine, and one is giving thanks to God for the bread.
Baruch atah Adonai Elohenu melech ha-olam ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz. “Blessed are you O LORD our God, king of the universe who brings forth bread from the earth.”
When I was young, we rarely said this blessing, and I don’t know why. Perhaps my mom was too busy raising four young children to bake the wonderful challah. Yet, as we grew up, at Thanksgiving, as we gave thanks, my father would recite Ha-motzi, giving God thanks for the bread. Saying grace before meals is not a standard operating procedure in most secular Jewish homes, so this prayer was a real blessing! Knowing Yeshua adds a wonderful new dimension to this prayer.
Our Messiah Yeshua was born in Bethlehem, Beit Lechem, meaning the House of Bread. Yeshua said to his disciples and the multitude in John 6:35: “I am the Bread of Life (Lechem ha-Chaim); he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” A couple of verses before, Yeshua rebuked the multitudes, “You seek me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life” (John 6:26–27).
Yeshua challenged the crowd about their motives of satisfying their appetites, instead of seeking him. Personally, this is quite convicting. How often do I look at him to satisfy temporal wants, when he is the Eternal Bread, Lechem Ha-Panim, the Bread of the Presence?
Messiah continued, “Truly truly I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the bread out of heaven” (John 6:32). Here is Yeshua, born in the House of Bread, telling them he is the always bread, the much-more bread. Manna had to be gathered daily, except for the Sabbath, and there was only enough for one day’s supply. Here, however, Yeshua is given from heaven, from God, and his supply is eternal.
We continue in Matthew 26:26. “And while they were eating, Yeshua took some bread, and after a blessing, he broke it and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat, this is my body.” The blessing here is the same as above, Baruch atah Adonai Elohenu melech ha-olam ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.
Yeshua, the Living Bread, born in the House of Bread, gives thanks to the One who brings forth the bread from the earth. Messiah Yeshua again foretells his death and resurrection in the Ha-Motzi! How blessed is God who brings forth bread from the earth. How blessed is God who brings forth Yeshua from the grave!