Toras Avigdor Junior
Seeing and Tasting
Rebbe Caplan finished speaking about Parshas Hashavua and Yitzy raised his hand. “Rebbe,” he said, “I don’t understand the Lechem Hapanim. Everything else in the Mishkan involved burning things for Hashem, the Ketores, the Korbonos or the Oil in the Menorah. But the Lechem Hapanim just sat there on the Shulchan for a whole week doing nothing. What was the point? It wasn’t a bakery where they needed to put bread on display, so why was it so important to have twelve loaves of bread sitting in the Heichal all week?”
Before Rebbe Caplan could answer, the lunchtime bell rang. “I’m sorry Yitzy,” he said. “I don’t want you to miss lunch! Why don’t you think it over as you eat and we’ll discuss it afterwards?”
Yitzy and his friends hurried to the cafeteria. “Yes!” exclaimed Dovy, sniffing the air as they got closer, “it’s fish and chips!” The boys all smiled excitedly – this was the best lunch the Yeshiva served. Aharon the fish-man delivered the fish straight to the Yeshiva so it always tasted as fresh as possible, and the cook’s french fries were the best in town.
The boys formed a neat line and each one waited their turn to get their tray of fried fish and crispy french fries. Meanwhile, Yitzy was still pondering his question. The more he thought about it, the stranger it seemed that there was food just sitting there right outside the Kodesh Hakodashim. He imagined what it must be like to be a Kohen lighting the Menorah or being maktir the Ketores, with the smell of fresh-baked bread in the air. He never thought about it before and definitely never imagined that the holiest part of the Beis Hamikdosh smelled like a bakery!
Yitzy got his plate of fish and chips and the delicious smell of the yummy fried food started to compete with the imaginary smell of Lechem Hapanim from his head. Usually Yitzy and his friends were so excited about the fish and chips that they would eat half of their french fries before even getting to the table. But this time Yitzy looked down at his plate and continued thinking. Didn’t Rebbe say that the Lechem Hapanim was to remind us of the wonderful gifts of food that Hashem gives us? Rebbe Caplan had talked enough about Rav Avigdor Miller for Yitzy to know that we are supposed to constantly be looking and thinking about the wonderful things that Hashem does for us. Was the point of the Lechem Hapanim to remind us to think non-stop about the amazing nissim that go into providing everyone with bread?
Yitzy stared at his plate like he had never seen fish and chips before. What an amazing color the french fries were. Golden, with brown edges, the fries were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The fish was a perfect golden brown and seasoned with delicious spices. And the hot steam rising up brought the most wonderful smell to his nose, making his mouth water, getting his body ready to digest this sumptuous meal.
“Yitzy,” Dovy said, “why aren’t you eating? Isn’t this your favorite lunch?”
“It is,” said Yitzy, after finally making a bracha with kavonah and taking a bite. “In fact, it tastes better than ever!”
“It does?” asked Yechezkel looking down at his almost empty plate with a frown. “I mean it tastes as good as always, but I don’t think it’s any different than usual.”
“I think I chap the answer to the question I asked Rebbe before,” Yitzy told his puzzled friends. “Hashem does so many amazing things to feed us. Look at this delicious food. It comes out of dirt and water! Yet he makes it taste amazing, just as a chessed so that we not only have food to eat, but also enjoy eating it! I bet that’s why it was so important to have the always-fresh Lechem Hapanim in the Heichal all week – to remind the Kohanim of the chessed of Hashem. Rebbe said that Rav Miller always said that gaining true knowledge of Hashem is the greatest Avodah. So it makes sense that the Kohanim would have that as part of their Avodah as well, to look at, smell, and eat the Lechem Hapanim.”
“Okay,” said Yisroel Chaim, “but what does that have to do with your fish and chips?”
“That’s just it!” exclaimed Yitzy. “Instead of just shoving the food into my mouth today, I looked at it, smelled it, studied it, and ate it, thinking the whole time about how amazing it is and what a chessed Hashem does to get us this food. And not only was that a chance to do Avodas Hashem, but the food tasted better than ever as a result!”
Have A Wonderful Shabbos!