Dough: Double and Delectable

 Shiur provided courtesy of

After Hashem brought Bnei Yisroel out of Egypt, Bnei Yisroel traveled through the desert to reach the Promised Land, a journey that would last forty years. During that time, Hashem miraculously provided for all of the people’s needs, leaving them to spend all their time studying the holy Torah Hashem had gifted them. One of these miracles was the food they received, the mann/manna that rained down daily from heaven. But, like so many of the miracles this generation witnessed, the miracle itself contained different elements.

           The Jews were told to go out every morning to collect the mann according to their needs. While some gathered more and others less, when they arrived home, each person was left with exactly one omer measure of mann per person. The people were further commanded not to leave any leftovers overnight. Those that saved some mann for the next day found that that it had spoiled and became worm infested. Then came Friday. Instead of having only one omer per person, each person found himself with lechem mishneh shnei haomer/double portion two measures of mann. The people questioned Moshe about this phenomenon. Moshe responded with the words of Hashem: “Tomorrow is a rest day, the holy Shabbat of Hashem. Bake… cook…  and whatever is left over, put away for yourselves… until the morning… They put it away until morning… It did not stink and there was no infestation in it. Moses said, ‘Eat it today, for today is the Sabbath… Today you shall not find it in the field..’ “

           Several questions arise in this account. First, if the Torah is known for its terse language, why does the Torah seem to be redundant in describing the Friday allotment both as mishneh/double and as shnei haomer/two measures? It is to this question that Rashi responds by quoting a Midrash, saying that we should read the word as meshuneh/different rather than as mishneh/double. Naturally, this response raises many questions of its own which will become much of our discussion. But these verses also form the source for using double breads, two loaves at each of three Shabbat meals, for today/Shabbat is repeated three times in sequence for the mann meals on this day. Interestingly, the double breads and three meals, according to the Mishneh Berurah, apply equally to women as to men, for women as well as men received the mann. Piskei Halacha adds that the double loaves should also be incorporated into the melaveh malka meal after Shabbat and to every meal that is a seudat mitzvah.

           But on Shabbos so much seemed to be doubled, not only the loaves of bread, writes Rabbi Pincus zt”l in Shabbos Kodesh. There is a double korban, a double punishment for desecrating Shabbos, and a double reward for keeping it [and a “double” soul/neshamah. CKS] Yet, Rabbi Pincus points out, the double portion of manna fell on Friday, and by Shabbos half was already consumed. Therefore, the question arises why we are so particular to have a double portion on Shabbat, when they seemingly only ate one portion than?   Further, at creation, Hashem blesses the seventh day and makes it holy, and Rashi attributes this sanctity to the future, when the manna would not fall on Shabbat. Clearly, there must be some connection between the sixth day, Friday, and Shabbat.

           The Shabbat meal is a sacred meal eaten in the presence of Hashem. When the body as well as the soul finds pleasure, it too connects with Hashem, writes Rabbi Kluger in Sole Desire. Our Shabbat meal is a meal of faith, attesting to the fact that Hashem sustains us and provides for all our needs, as He did in the desert.

           Rabbi Friedlander, the Sifsei Chaim, takes these connections one step further.  Citing the Zohar Hakadosh, he writes that bereishit/in the beginning is an anagram for (y)irei Shabbat/those who fear [are in awe of] Shabbat. Just as our experience with the mann taught us to have complete faith in Hashem to give each of us exactly what we needed to sustain us, even on the day of Shabbat when we did not go out to gather the manna, so must we have the faith that Hashem provides us with all our needs all week long. In this way, we can attribute the blessings of  the entire week to Shabbat.   The lechem mishne that we eat on Shabbat is a reminder of the blessings that Hashem bestows upon us, albeit that technically one was already eaten on Friday.  On this day, as in the desert, we don’t go out of our places into the mundane, secular world, and we don’t compare what we have with what others have. We remain tranquil and content in the knowledge that  Hashem takes care of each of us personally and individually. In fact, notes Vayovinu Bamikra, the word mann is derived from the word emunah/faith.

           There is tremendous power and blessing in Shabbat. Rabbi Leib Mintzberg offers a wonderful interpretation on the doubling of the mann. Bnei Yisroel did no additional work to gather the additional mann. In fact, they actually gathered the same amount they had gathered on the other days of the week. Nevertheless, the amount expanded and doubled on its own. This blessing, continues Rabbi Mintzberg, remains a constant. We work all week to pay for our weekly expenses, but what we spend on honoring the Shabbat comes from a separate bank account, and does not diminish the money we have earned through our own efforts. It is to this blessing that the Ibn Ezra alludes in the Shabbat zemirah/song Ki Esmirah Shabbat: “Behold – to the first generation (the generation that left Egypt as a nation) when my Holy One gave a wondrous proof: By giving doubled food on the sixth day, so may He double our food on every sixth day.”

           What is it that we should be focused on on Shabbat? Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz here connects Shabbat to Hashem’s original plan at creation. Hashem had put Adam into Gan Eden leovdah uleshomrah/to work it and guard it. However, since there was no need to work the land in Eden, what would be Adam’s work? His mission was to study Torah and retain the close relationship with his Creator. The aura of Gan Eden is repeated every Shabbat. Our work for Shabbat is not physical, but spiritual. Our sustenance for Shabbat comes not from physical toil, but directly from Hashem Himself.

           The Baalei Tosfos offers yet other insights into the doubling of the Shabbat food. The people indeed gathered the same amount of mann on Friday as on other days, and it doubled when they arrived home. Certainly the people ate half, one measure, for their Friday meals. But them, contends the Baalei Tosfos, the food doubled again, and the people had double the food on Shabbat.  In fact, berachah/blessing actually means expansion, growth from that goodness which already exists. But the Baalei Tosfos offers additional tasty food for thought. He claims, and history has validated this, that the food on Shabbat is different/meshuneh from the food of the rest of the week. The additional spice of Shabbat, unavailable when cooking for the rest of the week, adds additional flavor to every Shabbat recipe.

           This expansiveness and blessing of Shabbat is often recognizable in many areas of our lives, not just in our food, writes Rabbi Mintzberg. The home appears more comfortable, one’s face may appear more beautiful, and his mind is imbued with greater wisdom for the study of Torah. And, if you have unexpected guests, writes Vayovinu Bamikra, don’t worry; Hashem will make sure there’s enough food.

           But the deeper connection between our Shabbat food and the mann is that Shabbat adds a spiritual aspect to the physical food, writes Rabbi Gedaliah Schorr.

           Rabbi Pincus gives us a profound discussion that expands on the connection between the mundane weekdays and Shabbat, with Friday, erev Shabbat, acting as the bridge between them. Citing the Ramban, Rabbi Pincus notes that each day of the week corresponds to one of the seven attributes of Hashem, (greatness, strength, etc.) with the sixth attribute being yesod/foundation. It is this attribute, foundation, that unites heaven and earth so the two can meet, and this is the attribute connected to the sixth day.

           Rabbi Pincus continues with an analogy of two partners working in two different locations. Once a week they meet, pool their earnings, and divide the profits between them, each benefiting from what the other contributed. This, continues Rabbi Pincus, is the partnership between the secular days of the week and the sanctity of Shabbat, with erev Shabbat being the point at which they meet, their “headquarters” where heaven and earth meet. On Friday, the physical preparations for Shabbat spill over into Shabbat while Friday itself absorbs some of the sacredness of Shabbat. When a Jew eats on Shabbat, the physical act is elevated, and a when Jew learns Torah, it affects the physical world as well. The two loaves represent the two realms that are now united, the physical, mundane realm of the six days of the week with the sanctity of Shabbat, the seventh day.

           Therefore, it is important to dedicate Friday, especially the afternoon, to preparations for Shabbat, writes Rabbi Bernstein in Tachlit Ohr. Since the source of blessings for the entire week comes from Shabbat, the source actually begins before Shabbat, with our preparations on Friday. Our prayers on Friday are more powerful than during the week since the day already contains an element of the mercy and sanctity of Shabbat. [The longer one is involved in Shabbat preparation, the longer he protects himself from Gehenom. Rebetzin Smiles heard an extension of this idea from Rabbi Steinman z”l. If one involves oneself with Shabbat preparations all week, one is involved with sanctity all week, and thus he protects himself from Gehenom.] But you must be mindful of your connection to the holy. During preparations, whether buying special foods for Shabbat, cooking or cleaning, one should articulate that this is lekovod Shabbat/for the glory of Shabbat. It is this mindfulness that transforms the mundane to the spiritual.

           The word erev, usually translated as “eve”, actually means mixture. Friday is erev Shabbat because it already mixes the mundane of the six days of the week with the spiritual aspect of Shabbat, adds Rabbi Rabinowitz. It is in this context that perhaps the two measures of mann were considered meshuneh/different, for, since Friday already contained an element of sanctity, and therefore already contained some of the Shabbat spice, even the Friday portion of the Manna already tasted different from that of the rest of the week, writes Rav Povarsky z”l in Bad Kodesh.

           Actually, we contain within ourselves this mixture of physical and spiritual, writes Rabbi Kluger, for we are comprised of physical bodies and holy souls, a spark of God Himself. All week long, we are most cognizant of our physical self, feeling that we have personally accomplished or failed at our tasks. The reality that Hashem is actually in charge of all we do is obscured. But on Shabbat, Hashem grants us insight into our heavenly souls. This insight that we have termed a neshama yesirah/additional soul on Shabbat is not a soul we did not have before, but an aspect of our soul that we now can access more readily through the holiness of the day. It is a day we put all our trust in Hashem, as our ancestors did in the desert.

           While the mann seems to be completely spiritual food, all food has an aspect of spirituality. In the desert, when Bnei Yisroel were occupied only with the study of Torah, their food was totally sacred, writes Rabbi Rothberg in Moda Labinah. That’s why it could not survive in the physical world overnight. But on Shabbat, the people really didn’t need this spiritual aspect, they didn’t even need the mann, for the spirituality of Shabbat sustained them. Perhaps the mann itself became more physical on Friday so that it could survive in the physical world overnight to be eaten on Shabbat day. The spiritual zone we enter on Shabbat already begins on Friday.

           One should greet the Shabbat Queen on Friday night, even when one is alone, and bring the sanctity of Shabbat to one’s table, writes Piskei Teshuvah. When setting the Shabbat table or at the meal itself,  [or, as the Ben Ish Chai notes, after putting the Challah cover over the challah] one should recite the verse from Yechezkel: “Vayedaber Elai, zeh hashulchan lifnei Hashem/and He spoke to me, this is the table before Hashem.” a table that is worthy of being before Hashem, upon which we serve the two loaves of bread to remind us of the mann we ate in the desert, and upon which we can study the Torah as we did in the desert.