Lechem Mishneh: From Shalom Aleichem to Lechem Mishneh
The Jewish people enjoyed the Manna in the merit of Abraham feeding bread to the angels who visited his home. (Yalkut Bereishit 82) Just as Abraham attained a spiritual level so exalted that even angels could partake of his food, so too his descendants could benefit from the Manna which was originally the sustenance of angels.
Every Shabbat, when we eat the Lechem Mishneh, we are also alluding to the relationship that exists between the Jewish people, who delight in Shabbat and partake of its meals, and the angels, who also derive pleasure from our Oneg Shabbat. (Sefat Emet, Beshalach 5662-5663)
When we welcome the Shabbat angels into our homes with the “Shalom Aleichem”, one of the things that the angels take notice of is how our table is set. (Shabbat 119b)
When they see the Lechem Mishneh, they are reminded of both aspects of our two loaves of bread: on the one hand, the bread of Abraham, who lived such an elevated reality that he was able to share his food with angels, and on the other hand, the Manna; the sustenance of angels that God provided us with in the desert.
It is up to us to infuse our Shabbat meals with a sense of the Infinite and to elevate the Lechem Mishneh in a way that will allow the angels we have ushered in to share our Shabbat experience.
It is up to us to us to emulate our forefather Abraham as he invited the angels to partake of his bread; and it is up to us, as we eat the Lechem Mishneh, to re-experience a taste of the Manna, the food of angels.