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Lechem Ha-Chayim: The Bread of Life

B"H  Elul, 5768

Lechem Ha-Chayim

Receiving Spiritual Sustenance

Man shall not live by bread alone... (Deut. 8:3)

WHEN WE EAT FOOD, we incorporate other life as a means of nourishment for our own. Physical bread temporarily sustains our physical life. After it's digested, however, we find ourselves in need of it once again. God has designed the human body so that its life requires sacrifice.

Often when we meet someone new, we ask, "What do you do for a living?" By so asking, we want to know the means of this person's livelihood. We are seeking to know more about how this person "gets his bread" in the world.

For some, the merry-go-round of "making a living" is as far as it goes. Sustaining their physical life is understood as reason enough for what they do. They live for the sake of eating, so they can live to eat for another day, and so on and on. As Kierkegaard once remarked, such people go through life asleep until one day they wake up and realize they died.

As Jesus taught, the physical is often a metaphor of the spiritual.  Instead of asking what someone does we could ask why they do it. What reason did you choose this way to "get your bread"?  But lurking beneath this question lay one deeper still: Why do you seek your daily bread at all? For what end? What's the point of your life?  Where's it taking you?  What does your soul or "inner man" feed upon to gain the will to live?

Both the written Torah and Jesus (who is the embodiment and expression of Torah) make it clear that we receive sustenance from the Word of God, the source and nutrient of spiritual life. Just as we eat physical bread to sustain physical life, we eat spiritual bread to sustain our spiritual life. "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD."

The Word of God is the life-giving message of the love of God that's always sustaining us -- whether we are conscious of this or not.  All things were created "by him, and for him" and in him all things consist (Col. 1:16-17). The love of God provides lechem ha-chayim (לֶחֶם הַחַיִּים) the "Bread of Life" (John 6:35), embodied in the living Reality of Jesus the Messiah. Whoever comes to Him shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Him shall never thirst (John 6:48). Like the human body, God has designed the human soul so that its life requires a Sacrifice.

Spiritual life -- its source and its end -- depends upon receiving (i.e., "eating") the word of the Living God who is the Goal of Eternity.  God speaks words of hope and love to those who hunger and thirst for everlasting life. 

May you hear Him speaking to you now...


lo al ha-lechem levado yichyeh ha-adam

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