Ever Since Adam & Cain Part One
Ever since the time of Adam we have been struggling with the “Bread” issue. Adam originally could eat the “perfect food” of the trees of the Garden. However, once he sinned, his reality became, “By the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread.” Adam became a creative and active participant in preparing his food, but the stigma of the curse remained.
Cain, the “Tiller of the ground,” attempted to repair the curse. Unlike Abel, who chose to avoid the curse of the land by becoming a shepherd, Cain was willing to work the land despite the curse. He was so convinced that his approach of mastering the curse was the proper course, that when he harvested his first hard earned, sweat equity, wheat, that he offered it to God.
Unfortunately, he offered the wheat of the cursed earth rather than the bread of creativity. “But if you improve, you will rise,” said God, alluding to bread the rises. Cain failed to listen and eventually, “When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you.”
The Children of Israel traveling through the desert continued Adam and Cain’s struggle. They, as Adam, were fed a perfect food, that was such a powerful symbol of creativity that it could not fall on Shabbat when such physical creativity is forbidden. Some refused to acknowledge their participation in the Manna, rejected the sense of creativity, and went out on Shabbat to search for Manna.
Finally, in this week’s portion, God offered them two perfect opportunities to overcome the “Curse of Bread.” On Shavuot they were commanded, “From your dwelling places you shall bring bread that shall be waved, two loaves made of two tenth-ephah, they shall be fine flour, they shall be baked leavened.” (Leviticus 23:17) The Manna is described by the verse as an “Omer,” and is also measured as a tenth-ephah. (Exodus 16:36) They were given an opportunity to repair the “Curse of Bread” by celebrating their creativity and involvement in the process.
They were also given the Mitzvah of the twelve loaves of Show-Bread, stacked in the Sanctuary. Once again, the symbol of the “Curse of Bread” was transformed into a celebration of the Bread of Creativity. The Show-Bread was their opportunity to repair their mistake with the Manna. It was placed close to the Holy of Holies, to be consumed each and every Shabbat.
The “Curse of Bread” contained a powerful blessing: Creativity. Active participation in the world. An acknowledgment that our creative efforts are holy.
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