The Torah gives us true guidance in preserving our bodies and souls. The holy books teach of the evils of carbohydrates. Keep your soul safe! Avoid bread, grains, and the simple carbohydrates. Dr. Atkins was right: Obesity is the scourge of the sinful!
Eat No Bread!
Thus saith the L-rd: ולחם וקלי וכרמל לא תאכלו, עד עצם היום הזה. חקת עולם לדרתיכם בכל משבתיכם “Ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched wheat, nor caramels (sugar-globs yechhh!). It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings” (Vayikra 23:14). (No, that verse does not refer to Pesach.)
The first issur was wheat and the first sin was eating wheat: The forbidden tree in Gan Eden was wheat! (per Rabbi Yehuda in Berakhot 40a; see this article by a chutzpahdik breadpusher who knows full well the dangers of his goods). So it was quite apropos that Adam’s curse, the curse which follows us through the generations, was: תאכל לחם “Thou shalt eat bread” (Breishit 3:19) and Hava’s was to prepare bread. That’s a curse, not a blessing, folks! As it is written: לא על הלחם יחיה האדם “Not by bread may a man live” (Dvarim 8:3).
Bread is bloodshed, and the very word bread, לֶחֶם, comes from the same root as מלחמה, “war.” In fact, the plain noun לֶחֶם is used (Shoftim:5:8) to mean simply “war.” Likewise, פיצּה “pizza,” with dagesh for doubled צ /z, is of the same root as פצצה “explosive, bomb.” (If you think I’m kidding about the explosive potential of carbs, take a look at this Google search.) Bread is a deadly weapon, as Shelomo Ha-Melekh tells us שנאך–האכלהו לחם, כי גחלים אתה חתה על ראשו “Give your enemy bread to eat–thus you heap coals of fire upon his head” (Mishlei 25:21). Yes, this is the עגת רצפים, “the cake of burning coals” (I Melakhim 19:6), which the carb eater thrusts into his body. Truly it is called “bread of affliction” (Devarim 16:3)! (Hover your pointer on the asterisks if you speak French **.) “When they eat bread,” says Shlomo Ha-Melekh, “it is the bread of wickedness” כי לחמו, לחם רשע (Mishlei 4:17).( ** ) Marie Antoinette notwithstanding, but Judaism prohibits any kind of bread, wholegrain or white, for rich or poor שלא תהא אתה אוכל פת נקיה והוא אוכל פת קיבר “That it should not be that you eat one type of bread, nor should your servant eat any other” (Kidushin 20a).
Joyfully do we eschew bread for the full week of Pesach, as it is said: כי כל אכל חמץ, ונכרתה הנפש ההוא מישראל “He who eats bread, his soul shall surely be cut off from his people” (Shmot 12:15). Yes, a ban on carbs brings a festival of happy freedom, freedom from carbs! Contrast the sad sad time during the Three Weeks before Tisha Be’av, filled with tears and mourning for the blessed low-carb high-protein meat that we set aside. So may we turn curse into blessing, as it is written לא יאמר לך עוד עזובה, כי נשבע ה’ בימינו ובזרוע עזו, אם אתן את דגנך עוד מאכל, “You shall not be called ‘Forsaken’, but rather ‘My delight is in her,’ for no more shall I give you grain to eat” (Yeshaya 62:4-8).
Between Pesach and Shavuot, we mourn for seven full weeks. Why? What is so sad about this festal period? Some half-baked (pun intended) story about Rabbi’s Akiva’s students? No: The name answers the question: עומר Omer, the “bundle of grain” which is humanity’s truest humiliation (from the root of התעמר “to abuse.”) The Omer is the time between the curse of barley in Pesach and the curse of wheat in Shavuot, and during this time we hang our head in mourning for the tragedy. And then comes the thirty-third day, when the Log is shoved into the Omer to burn it as it so thoroughly deserves. The king who was more wicked than all the kings before him (I Melachim 16:25) was called עמרי Omri, “my sheaf of carbs.” Now that’s what I call an aptonym!
Speaking of tragedy, “eating bread” is a Biblical euphemism for widowhood, divorce, and barrenness (Vayikra 22:13). Fortunately, this euphemism has been lost from popular speech; a euphemism is not much use when it is more repugnant than the topic it is euphemising.
Bread kills. How about the story of Martha daughter of Boethos, one of the leading ladies of Jerusalem in the time when the Bet Mikdash still stood: מרתא בת בייתוס עתירתא דירושלים הויא שדרתה לשלוחה ואמרה ליה זיל אייתי לי סמידא אדאזל איזדבן אתא אמר לה סמידא ליכא חיורתא איכא אמרה ליה זיל אייתי לי אדאזל איזדבן אתא ואמר לה חיורתא ליכא גושקרא איכא א”ל זיל אייתי לי אדאזל אזדבן אתא ואמר לה גושקרא ליכא קימחא דשערי איכא אמרה ליה זיל אייתי לי אדאזל איזדבן הוה שליפא מסאנא אמרה איפוק ואחזי אי משכחנא מידי למיכל Martha the daughter of Boethius was one of the richest women in Jerusalem. She sent her man-servant out saying, ‘Go and bring me some fine flour.’ [Won’t even do her own dirty work.] By the time he went it was sold out. He came and told her, ‘There is no fine flour, but there is white flour’ [Yechh, why the obsession with refined flour, which is way worse than the brown stuff?]. She then said to him, ‘Go and bring me some.’ By the time he went he found the white flour sold out. [My goodness, the whole Jewish people were carb-mad and bought the supplies out. Maybe that’s why the Lord struck them down shortly after this, as it is written “For this one thing was the Second Temple destroyed….” But back to our story.] He came and told her, ‘There is no white flour but there is dark flour.’ She said to him, ‘Go and bring me some.’ By the time he went it was sold out. [You’ve probably guessed where this is going, right?] He returned and said to her, ‘There is no dark flour, but there is barley flour’ [Boy, she’s desperate. Can’t she just leavbe the stuff alone?] She said, ‘Go and bring me some.’ By the time he went this was also sold out…. She said, ‘I will go out and see if I can find anything to eat’” (Gittin 56a). Now, should I tell you what happens next? It’s quite logical. What is the most accurate possible representation of bread? Think about it… OK, if you haven’t guessed it yet, the next thing that happens is that she steps in some bread … no, I meant dung … and and dies. What a hideous story.
Bread is sin. On Rosh Hashana, we symbolize throwing away our sin by throwing away our bread. (Full sin-to-bread mapping here.) How different from the Kapparot, rich in protein, which do not symbolize sin but rather remove it– they are not thrown out but rather eaten. The Mahzor of Yom Kippur contains a confusing array of near-synonyms for “forgive”: מחל, כפר, רחם, and so on. But is it any surprise that מחל, has the specialized meaning of “forgive for the eating of bread”, based on the anagram of לחם, and that כפר originally meant “forgiveness for eating crackers” from the anagram פריכים, and that רחם referred to forgiveness for eating the anagramatic ממרח sugar-rich chocolate spread.
On Pesach, bread represents the sin of arrogance–the arrogance of thinking that you can eat carbs and live! (Likewise, the sheaves symbolize Yosef’s arrogance in his dream, [Breishit 37:7].) Annually, we burn by fire the carbs in our house, on the command of the Holy One Blessed Be He, in the process of ביעור, as it is said וביערת הרע בקרבך “and thou shalt destroy the evil within you” (Devarim 13:6, 19:14, etc.). We leave only the thin carb-cakes in concession to our weak and sinful souls. For Matza, too, is evil! Yes, just like לחם_ “bread”, the word מצה _Matza means “fighting” and “strife” (Yeshaya 58:4, Mishlei 13:10, 17:19). Likewise, אלומה “sheaf” is from the root of אלים “violent.” Makes you wonder if any word for carbohydrates does not also refer to killing. (ריבה riba “jam”, which contains over 60% sugar, also means “fighting” and “strife.” Coincidence? I think not.)
Over and over the L-rd makes concessions to human weakness. He allows us to plant carbs, but asks us to make that effort and at least leave a corner of the field and not pick up fallen sheaves ובקצרכם את קציר ארצכם לא תכלה פאת שדך בקצרך ולקט קצירך לא תלקט (Vayikra 23:22). A parable: To what might this be likened? To a fat person who wants to gobble a whole cake. His friend knows that the cause is lost and that the fatty will eat regardless. But the friend says “At least make this little effort, this symbolic first step towards self-discipline. At least leave off a corner of the cake. And for goodness sakes, don’t scrape out the crumbs. Just leave them. Throw them away, and maybe through that you will learn what it means to control yourself.”
Let us tell the story of Shaul, the well-meaning but troubled king, who struggled mightily against the evil spirit which seized him: When faced with bread, he desperately fought off temptation by sitting on it וישב המלך על הלחם (I Shmuel 20:24). Full of jealosy, Shaul saw David’s righteousness– ויאמר המלך לא בא בן ישי גם תמול גם היום אל הלחם “and the king said, ‘the son of Yishai has not come yesterday or the day before to [eat] bread’” (ibid., v. 27), yea, the same David who swore “May the Lord punish me more and more, if I taste bread before sundown” וישבע דוד לאמר, כה יעשה לי אלהים וכה יסיף, כי אם לפני בוא השמש אטעם לחם (II Shmuel 3:35). Yonatan, Shaul’s son, followed the way of his righteous friend David, ויקם יהונתן מעם השלחן ולא אכל לחם “Yonatan rose from the table and did not eat bread” (ibid., v. 24), but Yonatan too was destined to fall to carbohydrates, nor did hetake the throne, as we shall describe in detail later.
Yes, David was a righteous man, a good man who showed mercy to the house of Shaul, whom he might have considered enemy, and granted special protection to Mephiboshet. But even David that Sweet Singer of Israel could sin; yes, he too, had his moments of weakness. So it was that at the time of barley harvest, when the carbohydrates bloom and the best of men go mad, he violated his oath and sent Shaul’s house to die in the bloody barley field of death (II Shmuel 21). Barley’s here – it’s killing time!
David all his life longed to build the Bet HaMikdash, but was prevented by doing so, even though he ruled in Jerusalem. Just when he was bringing the Ark to Yerushalaim, just when it seems that he was at last ready to build the Holy Temple, David committed a severe sin, as it is written ויחלק לכל העם לכל המון ישראל למאיש ועד אשה לאיש חלת לחם אחת ואשפר “And he handed out to the whole multitude of Israel, to each person a cake of bread, and a cake made in a pan, and a sweet cake” (2 Shmuel 6:19). You probably know where this is going. Though Michal righteously rebukes him, two verses later, David arrogantly says that he’s going to scoff at the Lord with idolatry, sexual impiety, and murder ושחקתי לפני ה’ ונקלתי עוד מזאת והייתי שפל בעיני “I will mock the L-rd, and become more and more vile, and more and more base in my own sight (ibid v. 21-22; see Tosefta Sota 6:6 on the interpretation).
And because of that, David was denied the boon of building the Bet HaMikdash, but he did merit to do one important thing before he died, to wipe out the defilement which had polluted the holy spot on Mount Moriah with a wheat-infected threshing floor. He came upon Aravnah and his sons, who tried to hide in shame וארבעת בניו עמו מתחבאים, because they had been caught threshing wheat דש חטים. Aravnah, the fool, was so embarrased that he even tried to deny all association with the threshing floor and pass it over to David for free (II Shmuel 24:18-25; II Divrei Hayamim 21:20-25)! Shortly after David bought this site and eliminated the threshing-floor, the long-delayed Bet Mikdash was built on the very spot!
But to return to Shaul and the battle against his inner demons: At his bitter end, he too fell to the sin of bread, which is so tightly bound up with the sin of necromancy, of which it is said מכשפה לא תחיה “Thou shalt not suffer a necromancer to live” (Shmot 22:17). The Witch of Endor pressed Shaul to eat bread, ועתה שמע נא ואשמה לפניך פת לחם ואכול (I Shmuel 28:22). Shaul was a good man: “He had eaten no bread all day and all night” כי לא אכל לחם כל היום וכל הלילה (ibid., v. 20). And so now, as before, he tried his best to resist evil temptation וימאן ויאמר לא אכל “He refused, and said ‘I will not eat’” (ibid., v. 23), but the Witch and Shaul’s servant pressed him ויפרצו בו עבדיו וגם האשה (ibid., v. 23), and in the end he could not stand against her evil ways. She fed him Matza, those wheaty slabs of carb: ותקח קמח ותפהו מצות ויאכלו (ibid., v. 24). That was the death of him, for he fell at the Gilboa on the next day. And what of the servant, who colluded with the Witch in feeding him carbs? He sought to kill Shaul with carbs, then bragged of killing him at the edge of the sword (II Shmuel 1:10). Is there any difference?
In this context, it is not surprising that the prophets use “bread” as a symbol of corruption and black magic among the leaders of the nation: “Behold, the L-rd of Hosts will take away from Yerushalayim and Yehuda every staff of bread, every wizard and hypocrite and enchanter” הנה האדון ה’ צבאות מסיר מירושלם ומיהודה כל משען לחם קסם ונשוא פנים ונבון לחש (Yeshayahu 3:1-3). “Staff of bread” represents bread as a violent weapon (just as in Yehezkel 4:16, when Hashem, in an act of love for his people, swears to break the staff of bread in the holy city Jerusalem הנני שובר מטה לחם בירושלים). Yeshaya’s parallelism between “staff of bread” and witchcraft and hypocrisy makes the point quite effectively. What a blessing when Hashem protects his people with a low-calorie intermittent-fasting diet; smashing the staff of bread לא הניח אדם לעושקם ויקרא רעב על הארץ כל מטה לחם שבר (Tehilim 105:16)!
If you had any doubt that carbs are tied to necromancy, hear the words of the prophet Yehezkel: “Woe,” he says, “to those who conjure to raise the dead, who desecrate my people” (“desecrate” ותחללנה, from the same root as חלה, halla-bread) “with barley and pieces of bread” בשעלי שערים ובפתותי לחם (Yehezkel 13:18-19)! (By the way, the word פתות means both “pieces of bread” and “seduce with trickery.” As if you haven’t noticed yet.)
Following on the two paragraphs above with synonyms for “staff,” note that חק means something similar, though more like “scraping a gash” than “smash”. (See Breishit 49:10.) הטריפני לחם חקיך (Mishley 30:8) means either “make me insane” or “make me like a ripped-up non-Kosher (treif) carcass” “with bread, the rod of scraping.”
In the time of Nehemya, when the Jewish people were mired in intermarriage and straying from the spiritual path, some pathetic carb addicts sank so low that they cried out in anguish, because they had descended to the point of seeking out grain and eating it ותהי צעקת העם גדולה ויש אשר אמרים נקחה דגן ונאכלה (Nehemya 5:1-2). The pious leader Nehemya set them aright with his personal example, as he and other righteous Jews abstained from bread, in stark contrast to the bread-eating practices of the wicked governors who came before him אני ואחי לחם הפחה לא אכלתי (ibid v. 14). Compare that to the corrupt worshippers and their corrupt bread in Malachi’s accusation: מגישים על מזבחי לחם – מגואל. הקריבהו נא לפחתך “You offer up bread on my altar – it is defiled. So go ahead, offer it to your governor” (Malachi 1:7-8)! Bread is the basic source of the impurity associated with leprosy, as it is written (Berachot 41a): If, after entering a house with leprosy, one eats a piece of wheat bread, only then do one’s shoes and garments become unclean.
Washing hands is traditionally a symbol of purification from ritual defilement and sin (Tehilim 26:6): Thus, we wash our hands before and after eating bread (only for bread, not other less carborific foods like meat, of course).
Pity the fool, or as we say in Hebrew, pity the פתי peti, who says “I will eat my piece of bread,” פתי piti! As it is written מי פתי לחמו בלחמי “whoever is a fool, let him eat bread” (Mishlei 9:6). Indeed, as Shlomo Hamelech said, wise people abstain from bread לא לחכמים לחם (Kohelet 9:11). Did you ever notice that חלם Chelm, the legendary town of fools, is an anagram of לחם, “bread”? Wisdom speaks thus to the פתי, the fool: פתי! מים גנובים ימתקו “O fool, stolen waters are sweet”–yes, theft and sugar go hand in hand. (Murder, too. Hey, think that sugar is harmless? Take a look at this.) Hidden bread is pleasant ולחם סתרים ינעם–if you think you can secretly break your diet and get away with it! And this pasuk goes on: ולא ידע כי רפאים שם בעמקי שאול “The fool doesn’t know that dead spirits are in the depths of Sheol”–among those who have eaten carbs and paid the ultimate price (ibid., 9:16-18)! Bread is treachery, as Ovadiah tells us (ibid., v. 7**). So too, Shlomo Hamelekh pithily summarizes: לחם שקר “Bread is a lie”; it is ערב לאיש “seemingly pleasant to people”, but it ends up being as gravel in one’s mouth ואחר ימלא פיהו חצץ, though of course gravel doesn’t have quite so many calories as bread (Mishlei 20:17).
David Hamelekh has a different angle on this, likening bread to ashes rather than to gravel, and bemoaning the tears that come of drinking sugar-laden soda pop כי אפר כלחם אכלתיו ושקוי בבכי (Tehilim 102:10). This is the drink of which it is said קולה כנחש “Cola is like a poisonous snake” (Yirmiyahu 46:22). Yea, האכלתם לחם דמעה “you fed them bread, which is like weeping” (Tehilim 80:6). Quoth he היתה לי דמעתי לחם “my bread is my tears” (ibid., 42:4). How like are these tears to those of one who, tragically, הלוך ילך ובכה נשא משך הזרע (Tehilim 126:10) walks along crying because he knows that he is sowing a wheat crop. Threshing (Amos 1:3, Hosea 13:3) wheat (Yoel) is a common Biblical trope for total destruction. “Be ashamed, ye farmers, for the wheat and barley” הבישו אכרים על חטה ועל שערה (Yoel 1:3). As the Gemara confirms (Brachot 35a, 54a), bread brings no joy, though cholesterol-reducing red wine does.
In fact, Shlomo Hamelekh says, you should throw your bread away, right into the sea שלח לחמך על פני המים (Kohelet 11:1). Don’t give into temptation, as it is written: אל תתאו למטעמותיו, והוא לחם כזבים “be not desirous of (carb-laden) dainties–they are deceitful bread” (Mishlei 23:3)! That’s why we bless G-d for “getting rid of bread from the Holy Land,” המוציא לחם מן הארץ.
No, do not eat bread! When Yosef interpreted the Butler’s and the Baker’s dreams (Breishit 30), was there any doubt which dream meant life and which meant death! If one man dreams of red wine and the other of baskets of bread, must you think twice of which is fated to live and which to die?!
When you think of Yosef in prison, shed a tear for that other prisoner, the righteous prophet Mikhaiah, the one true prophet among four hundred frauds, whom the wicked king Ahav punished by giving him לחם לחץ “bread under pressure” (I Melakhim 22:27). A cruel doom, like that of Yirmiyahu, taken unjustly into captivity and made to eat bread (Yirmiyahu 37:21)! Not for nothing does Scripture call Ahav the most wicked king that the Kingdom of Yisrael had ever known ויעש אחאב הרע מכל אשר לפניו (ibid. 16:30)!
Yosef, the epitome of the wise man, foresaw the seven fattening years in which the Egyptians risked turning into the obese cows in Pharaoh’s dream (Breishit 41:1 **). Yosef wisely declared “lock that grain away!” (ibid., v.48). (That stuff kills!) Thus, Yosef acclimatized the Egyptians to seven years of healthful dieting. He did such a good job that before long the Egyptians learned to treat bread-eating with disgust and revulsion כי לא יוכלון המצרים לאכל לחם כי תועבה הוא (ibid., 43:32). Only when the seven blessed low-carb slimming years had arrived could Yosef’s long-sundered family be reunited, but only after the brothers did penance by virtuously bringing low-carb pistachios and almonds from Eretz Hakoshesh (ibid., v. 11).
From the story of Yosef we learn that bread is as the same as adultery. Rashi’s bases this comparison on the verse ויעזב כל אשר לו ביד יוסף ולא ידע אתו מאומה כי אם הלחם …ויאמר אל אשת אדניו הן אדני לא ידע אתי מה בבית וכל אשר יש לו נתן בידי ולא חשך ממני מאומה כי אם אותך באשר את אשתו. “Potiphar left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and had no concern for anything but the bread that he ate…. Joseph said unto his master’s wife: ‘My master knows not what is in the house and has put all that he has into my charge; neither has he kept back any thing from me but you, because you are his wife’” (Bereshit 39:6-9).
Sexual harassment is associated with wheat, as the righteous Boaz knew perfectly well, and so he warned off the carb-crazed young wheat-gathering men, הלוא צויתי את הנערים לבלתי נגעך (Ruth 2:9). He urged Ruth to stay well away from dangerous carborific wheat אל תלכי ללקט בשדה אחר “Don’t gather wheat from the other field,” and וגם לא תעבוּרי מזה “and don’t gather grain from this one either” (ibid., v. 8) (**)
Hoshea’s wife is labeled בת דבלים “A Daughter of Two Date Cakes” (Hoshea 1:3**). How’s that for a snide underhanded epithet! Calling her אשת זנונים “woman of feeding [carbs to the innocent]” (ibid. v. 2), would have been bad enough, but calling her by this underhanded synonym, “Date Cake,” is just is adding insult to injury! At least the word זונה “whore/one who feeds people [carbohydrates]” (Rashi and Targum Yonatan on Yehoshua 2:1), though offensive, tells it straightforwardly. Hoshea really knows how to dig it in. Like he says כי זנתה, אמרה, אלכה אחרי מאהבי נתני לחמי “she whored/made cabohydrate-rich food [from root זן] and said ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me bread’” (ibid 2:7). If you won’t believe anyone else, at least take it straight from Shlomo Hamelech: כי בעד אשה זונה עד ככר לחם “For on account of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread” (Mishlei 6:26). Why do you think that “Sugar Daddy” represents the most debauched and explotative form of intergender relations characteristic of decadent modern society?
If that isn’t clear enough, “grinding grain” in the Bible is also a synonym for “commiting adultery.” The sentence תטחן לאחר אשתי ועליה יכרעון אחרין (Iyov 31:10) means “Let my wife grind grain for/be the harlot of another, and let other men lie with her,” and the phrase ויהי טוחן “he was grinding” (Shoftim 16:31) applied to Shimshon means that the Philistines brought their women to him to impregnate. To quote Bavli Sotah (10a), ויהי טוחן בבית האסורים – א”ר יוחנן: אין טחינה אלא לשון עבירה, וכן הוא אומר: תטחן לאחר אשתי, מלמד, שכל אחד ואחד הביא לו את אשתו לבית האסורים כדי שתתעבר הימנו. “And he was grinding grain in the prison’ – Rabbi Yohanan says that the word ‘grinding’ always means [sexual] transgression,” and so says Scripture: ‘May my wife grind grain for another.’ This teaches that every single [Philistine] would bring his wife to him [Shimshon] in the prison so that she would become pregnant by him.” (Hover here: **.)
Bread and other carbs rot your teeth far more than meat, as the Lord spoke at the hands of his prophet Amos: נקיון שנים “cleanness of teeth,” which is followed in perfect poetic parallelism by וחסר לחם “and lack of bread” (Amos 4:6).
“It is useless for you to eat the bread of neurosis” שוא לכם אוכלי לחם עצבים (Tehilim 127:2), but the mental illness gets worse: You may even sink to bulimia to purge yourself of the toxin, as Shlomo Hamelech tells us: אל תלחם את לחם רע עין ואל תתאו למטעמתיו. אכול ושתה יאמר לך ולבו בל עמך, פתך אכלת תקיאנה “Don’t eat that evil-eye bread, and don’t lust over the sweets. When you eat and drink, but your heart is not in it, you’ll end up eating your bread but then vomiting it up” (Mishlei 23:6-8) (The Kabbala has something to say about this. Hover here ** to see a discussion of the Zohar text.). Quoth Shlomo Hamelech: “Honey: Eat your fill and vomit it up” דבש–תשבענו והקאתו. (ibid. 25:16). Why does the Torah use the verb זבה, most commonly referring to gonorrhea, for honey (Vayikra 20:24)?
Carbs are Death! (Nice item on death-and-carbs here.)
All carbs are evil! Even when Am Yisrael received the blessing of wheat, it was the fat of the wheat, together with butter, animal fats, meat, and red wine חמאת בקר וחלב צאן עם חלב כרים ואילים בני בשן ועתודים עם חלב כליות חטה ודם ענב תשתה חמר (Devarim 32:14), not the carbs. For is not חטה hitta, “wheat,” like unto חטא hatta, “sin”, and so also like unto the wicked Hitti whom we are commanded to exterminate (ibid. 7:1)? Wheat is sin! And just as the word for “sin” comes from the word for “wheat,” so too the word for “transgression,” עבירה comes from the word for “grain,” עבור. That’s why, when a poetic metaphor for wickedness is needed, grain is so useful: “Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap it” חרשי און וזרעי עמל יקצרהו (Job 4:8). Is it really a metaphor when they’r really the same thing?
And not just wheat! The Torah tells us that in contrast to Yaakov, the innocent man dwelling in tents, who ate healthful lentils (Breishit 25:30), wicked Esav was a “barleyed man” שעיר sa’ir, the adjective from שערה se’ora “barley” (ibid.,27:11). Esau was doltish. When he demanded the lentil stew, he was thinking he’d get himself some sinful carbs (5%), but he didn’t realize that lentils are actually pretty good for you, since they have a low glycemic index. Yaakov, that clever trickster, gave the brute what he really wanted by adding, unasked, some high-carb bread (ibid., 25:34); the dolt gobbled it down, so abandoning all condeming himself to eternal punishment. Barley yechhh: The sin-offering sacrificed on Yom Kippur, to be dashed on the rock, was the שעיר, the barley symbolizing sin (Vayikra 16:8). If it is not clear enough yet, there are two distinct kinds of sacrifice, as it is written אכל אהרן ובניו את-בשר האיל ואת-הלחם אשר בסל פתח אהל מועד (Shmot 29:32) Aaron and his sons shall eat the mutton, but throw the bread in its basket right out the door of the Tabernacle.”
The lentil-barley distinction resolved the apparent contradiction between passages: In I Divrei Hayaim 11:13, the Israelites fought the Philistines in a barley-field, and in II Shemuel 23:11, in what is otherwise the same story, they fight in a lentil-field. The Midrash neatly settles the matter: So long as the Israelites clung to their high-carbohydrate barley, they were defeated and fled the Philistines והעם נס לפני פלשתים. But once they virtuously switched over to the healthy low-glycemic-index lentils, ויעש ה’ תשועה גדולה “The L-rd wrought a great victory.”
Rashi and other commentators point out an interesting halachic problem posed by the story of Avraham Avinu and his guests. They note that he appears, incredibly. to serve them forbidden foods: Avraham says to the guests that he will “take some bread” ואקחה פת לחם and says to Sarah ועשי עגות “make cakes” (Breshit 18:5) How can that be?! How could such a great man serve bread to his heavenly visitors? But the answer is simple. In the end, Avraham never actually served them the bread! “He took curds and milk, and the calf which he had prepared” not the bread ויקח חמאה וחלב, ובן הבקר אשר עשה ויאכל (ibid. v. 6).
This is the same Avraham, who, egged on by his wife Sarah, committed what appears to be the worst of injustices to his concubine Hagar and his son Ishmael: ויקח לחם ויתן אל הגר “he took bread and gave it to her” (Breishit 21:14). Oh, who can stand before jealosy! But at least Hagar had some sense. As it is written ויכלו המים (ibid., v.15) “the water ran out,” but nowhere is it written that the bread ran out, because Hagar, showing some sense, tossed it. The angel of G-d came to help her–and gave her water, and not bread, of course (v. 19). and indeed all was well, for Ishmael became a רבה קשת in the מדבר (ibid v.20) an archer who hunts a protein-rich meat diet in the carb-free desert.
Here’s a kushia for you: How can we expain the phrase כי לא יוכלון המצרים לאכל את העברים לחם כי תועבה הוא למצרים “The Egyptians would not eat bread with the Hebrews for it was an abomination to the Egyptians” (Breishit 43:32). Can we imagine that idolatrous Egyptians would be more virtuous than the Isrraelites? But a glance at Rashi and at the Targum settles it quickly: ארי בעירא דמצראי דחלין ליה עבראי אכלין “for the Egyptians worship the small cattle that the Israelites eat.” The word לחם here an alternative sense and refers precisely to mutton, a low-carb high-protein food if there ever was one. Naturally, the idol-worshiping Egyptians turn down this food, no doubt preferring bread, whereas the Sons of Jacob would prefer an Atkins-style diet.
The word שבר shever has two meanings: “Catastrophe,” and also “grain.” When the prophet bemoans שבר בת עמי (Yirmiyahu 8:11), is he talking about catastrophe or about the (grain-caused) fatness of the Israelite women? Is there really a difference? Do you want to end up like the אישה גדולה, the BIG woman, who forced her personal vice on the prophet Elisha ותחזק בו לאכל לחם (II Melakhim 4:8). How do you think she got to be so big? Later in the same chapter, Elisha performs a great miracle (vv.38-44). When the Sons of the Prophet are faced with poisonous substances, פקעת שדה and קמח and לחם שעורים and כרמל, guords and flour, and barley bread and caramels, they shout “there’s death in that pot,” and can’t manage to each the toxic stuff ויאמרו מות בסיר ולא יכלו לאכל . Yet with Elisha’s miracle-working, they lived! At least Elisha warned them about the only quasi-safe way to eat the horrid stuff: You can eat a tiny tiny amount, far less than the 1/5 of a loaf per person that they had avaliable, but the important thing was simply to leave most of it aside, אכל והותר!
So, too, in the Midianite’s dream לחם שערים “barley bread.” What did this dream mean? שברו, “its explanation,” no, “its grain,” no, “its destruction” was חרב “the sword”, and the desolation of war (Shoftim 7:13-15).
The word חטּה, “wheat” has a dagesh in the ט, indicating an assimilated נ: the root is חנט. The verb from that root means “embalm” (Breishit 50:2-3). Death, and what a goyishe way to deal with it—that’s wheat for you!
שבר “grain,” is in fact synonymous with desecration of holy days of rest, as Nehemya (10:32) knew: ועמי הארץ המביאים כל שבר ביום השבת, לא נקח מהם בשבת וביום קדש “The ignorant ones bought in grain on the Sabbath and Holy Days, but refused to take the grain from them.”
When Amos condemns the people, he mentions one sin after another–and then come the consequences: Israel’s sins weigh them down, burden them like כאשר תעיק העגלה המלאה לה עמיר “the creaking of a wagon filled with ….” Guess what comes next, what symbolizes the sin: Yes, that’s right, עמיר “sheaves of grain!” (Amos 2:13).
And what of the other wagon, that which carried the Ark of G-d: ויבאו עד גרן ויחר אף יהוה בעזה ויכהו שם, “And it came to a granary, and the L-rd grew wroth with Uzzah, and struck him there dead” (II Shmuel 6:6-7) Yea, rightly did Uzzah deserve death for leading the wagon near that place of wickedness.
Ahav was evil, but for one short moment he trod the path of righteousness, defeating Yisrael’s enemies yet showing mercy to the defeated king, building an army that held off an Assyrian invasion (according to Assyrian sources), and then, when he coveted Nabot’s vineyard, respecting the law and not seizing it, much as he wanted it. It’s easy to forget this part of the story, but it’s all there in I Kings 21, just where it says לא אכל לחם “he would not eat bread” (I Kings 21:4). It was only under the influence of Izevel, Jezebel, that prototypical wicked woman, who told him קום אכל לחם “go on, eat some bread” (ibid, v.7) that Ahav acquiesced to a violation of Yisrael’s holy law in which Nabot was falsely condemned and killed.
I mean for goodness’ sake: G-d says בחריש ובקציר תשבת “Stop working at the plowing and harvest” (Shmot 34:21)! How much clearer could it be! Hey! He’s talking to you! Put down that plow and scythe, carbs are evil (Shmot 33:11). But, if you really are carried away by your basr impulses and harvest the field, stop there! Abandon it and leave the wheat right there in the field where it won’t do anyone any harm כי תקצר קצירך בשדך ושכחת עמר בשדה לא תשוב לקחתו (Devarim 24:19). And then, if you backslide and do harvest it, at least leave it for the cattle to trample and eat it, as it is said לא תחסם שור בדישו(ibid. 24:4). Better they get fat than you; and you might get a steak out of it. As it is written ואביא אתכם אל ארץ הכרמל לאכל פריה וטובה ותטמאו את ארצי ונחלתי שמתם לתועבה “when I brought you to the land of caramels (yuck) you ate its produce, and so you became defiled together with my land, and you turned my inheritance into an abomination” (Jeremiah 2:7).
Carbs might taste good, but paradoxically, eating them brings hunger, since, when you consume simple carbohydrates, your blood sugar soars but then quickly crashes, making you desperate to eat even more carbs, as it is written “bread for their hunger” לחם לרעבם (Nehemya 9:15). The Holy Torah is quite aware of this sugar-crash phenomenon, as it is written ואת-רעבון בתיכם קחו (Breishit 42:33), where the word רעבון “hunger” is used to simply mean “grain,” in the phrase “take רעבון = hunger/grain for your households.” The identity of hunger and grain is confirmed in v.19 of the same chapter: הביאו שבר רעבון בתיכם ” bring the hunger-grain for your households.” (Why the brothers should do such a terrible thing as buy grain may seems unclear, but recall that Yosef’s brothers were would-be fratricides – and Yosef Ha-Tzaddik of course never technically sold them grain, since he put their money back in their sacks.)
The hunger of the righteous is not for bread. May we merit to see the coming of the Mashiach, when the basest of all possible impulses will be replaced with its most spiritually refined inverse: As it is written “The days are coming when I, the L-rd, will send hunger into the land – not for bread [chas veshalom] but for [its diametric opposite] the word of the L-rd” הנה ימים באים והשלחתי רעב בארץ. לא רעב ללחם, כי אם לשמע את דברי ה (Amos 8:11). In a pure Jewish household, there is never bread but only its opposite, Torah, as it is written (Eliyahu Zuta 14) אין לחם, אלא תורה. Quoth King David: לא ראיתי צדיק וזרעו מבקש לחם “Never have I seen any righteous man’s offspring asking for bread, heaven forfend” (Tehilim 37:25).
When the people of Shomron sinned and over-valued flour, perfidiously treating it as precious, the L-rd spoke through Elisha and set them aright, announcing that carbs were worthless and would be treated as such. A foolish officer mocked, and though Elisha tried to straighten him out, stating that flour was good for looking at but not for eating הנכה ראה בעיניך ומשם לא תאכל,the scoffer’s fate was quite rightly, death (2 Melachim 1-2, 18-19).
The Bar Mitzvah boy, as indication of his new-found responsibility for his iniquties, is symbolically stoned in expiation. But not with stones, no! The truest symbolism comes from the 100% sugar candies which bombard him on his day of culpability for sin. As it is written “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers, for each man shall be put to death for his own sin” (Dvarim 24:16). In Hebrew, to say that a living creature is vicious and bloodthirsty, you call it a חית בר (where בר _bar _means “grain”, Breishit 41:35 etc.). Like the old joke about Bar Mitzvahs says “A little less בר Bar [less grain], a little more Mitzvah.” Yes, your next Bar Mitzvah party should have less cake, and more meat and other high-protein low-carb products.
And that same בר quoted in Breishit 41:35 was the tool for Egypt to become enslaved under Pharaoh. They were forced to build ערי מסכנות “cities for storing grain” (Shmot 11:1). As we are taught: “Read not ערי מסכנוֹת but rather ערי מסכנוּת cities of miserableness.” Let my people go! (**)
Lo! All grains are evil. Think of how the Aibishter commanded Yehezkel Ha-Navi ואתה קח לך חטין ושערים ופול ועדשים ודחן וכסמים, ונתתה אותם בכלי אחד, ועשית אותם לך ללחם. ועגת שערים תאכלנה. והיא בגללי צאת האדם תעגנה, “to make bread of wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and to bake it on human dung” (Yehezkel 4:9-11). Human dung? In the bread? You got it. Poo-poo, doo doo , don’t know how else to say it. Right in there with the carbs. (If you want to read about some freaking cultists who try to sell this stuff, click here, but don’t say you haven’t been warned.) So, here we have the true meaning of bread, all bread, whether of wheat, whole wheat, or of any grain! Yehezkel was disgusted! No way would he eat bread! No way had he ever eaten nor would he ever eat such an unclean and impure thing thing as breat in his life הנה נפשי לא מטמאה לא אכלתי מנעורי ועד עתה (ibid., v. 14)! Like it says in Tsfania (1:17) “Their bread is like poo-poo” לחמם כגללים, yuck. Yehezkel was very big on tahara, purity, and knew exactly what he was doing! But! Here is what G-d answered him: ככה יאכלו בני ישראל את לחמם טמא בגוים אשר אדיחם שם “Even thus, when the children of Yisra’el eat their bread, it is unclean, and I shall drive them out among the nations” (ibid., v. 13). As Yehezkel goes on to say: ואכלו לחם במשקל ובדאגה “and they shall eat bread while worrying and weighting themselves” (ibid., 4:16). Remember that when you’re trying to diet!
If you’re wondering about that weird poo-poo thing, you should know that a little later, after Yehezkel pleaded not to be forced to eat the bread, Hashem told him to replace human dung with cow manure, but go ahead and eat the truly yucky stuff (ibid., v. 15)!!! If you didn’t think Hashem was tough ( אל נקמות ה’ the L-rd is the G-d of vengeance, Tehilim 94:1), you know it now! The L-rd still made him eat the bread!
The association of bread, honey, and excrement is all too obvious. Ravshakeh, the commander of the Assyrian armies who laid waste to Judah, burned its cities and slaughtered its people threatened the people of Judah that he would make them eat their own dung and drink their urine לאכל את צואתם ולשתות את מימי רגליהם (II Melakim 18:27), and that he would exile them to “a land of grain and bread and of honey” ארץ דגן לחם ודבש (ibid., v. 32). Quite a threat!
Corpses, excrement, and grain! What a combination! They go together, like, well, corpses, excrement, and grain! As Yirmiyahu puts it (9:21) נבלת האדם כדמן וכעמיר “a human corpse, like dung, and like grain.” What a blessing Yirmiyahu gives us, a messianic age where all humanity comes to know and recognize how disgusting carbs are! As Rambam says הטובה תהא מושפעת הרבה וכל המעדנין מצויין כעפר “There will be such goodness that all the goodies will be treated just like the dirty thing that they are!” (Hilchot Melachim 12:5).
מאפיה Mafia means both “criminal gang” and “bakery” in Hebrew. Is there a difference? (If you think so, visit this one.) And even muffins, those puffed-up blobs of debauchery, are correctly identified in contemporary Israeli speech as מעאפן maaffin “crummy.” (Interesting–in English, the crummy/crumby also holds reproach and carbohydrates within the homophone!
When Egypt was smitten with plagues, the frogs went straight to the most natural place for a curse–the kneading bowls for bread dough (Shmot 8:3; another note for French speakers here **)! Yes, you could have guessed that בצקת, the disease named after בצק, “dough,” is a hideous swelling of the flesh–those doughy foods make you swell into obesity, call it a disease or no! סכרת, from סוכר “sugar” is a disease, but there is no such disease as בשרת from בשר “meat.” It is no coincidence that מחלה “disease” is an anagram of “the bread.”
And by the way, let’s not forget the importance of a proper exercise plan, which can compensate to some small extent for carb-eating. Shlomo praises she who never eats bread without exercising–לחם עצלות לא תאכל “she does not eat bread in laziness” (Mishlei 31:27)! Not for her is the לחם רשע “bread of wickedness” (ibid. 4:17), those carbs which are consumed without exercise. Adam too, was told בזיעת אפך תאכל לחם “You may eat bread, so long as you sweat it off.” Indeed, says Yehezkel the prophet: “Behold, this was the sin of Sodom: too much eating bread, and laziness” הנה זה היה עון סדם גאון שבעת לחם ושלות השקט (Yehezkel 16:49). Sifre (to Devarim 43:17) says וכן אתה מוצא באנשי סדום, שלא מרדו אלא מתוך שביעה, שנאמר בהם ארץ ממנה יצא לחם תחתיה נהפך כמו אש; “the people of Sodom rebelled simply because they had eaten to much, as it is said (Iyov 28) ‘the last from which bread comes will turn into fire.’” ) (There are a lot more stories in that Midrash about how pigging out turns makes you a bad person. Too much to quote here. Read it yourself.)
And when Adam’s sons, Kayin and Hevel, offered up their respective offerings, wicked Kayin offered carbohydrates, grains from the field, but Hevel, that pure and righteous man, gave protein, meat, for his offerings (Breishit 4:2-5). And Hevel’s sacrifice found divine favor, but Kayin’s carbs reaped only scorn–Kayin, that carb-panderer, that first of all murderers! You’ve heard of cereal murderers, but since when have you ever heard of a cheese murderer? Do you think maybe there’s a reason for that?
Likewise, when the Bet Hamikdash was ultimately built, the offerings were high-protein meat. High-protein worm meat, תולעת had a place of honor (Shmot 26:1) in the Temple. In addition, certain types of low-carb vegetable matter including כרובים cabbage (ibid.) and almonds שקד (ibid, 25:33) had the most sacred of roles in the Holy of Holies. But the bread was strictly לחם תנופה “to be tossed out” (Vayikra 23:17). Why do you think that grain offering is listed alongside the sin offering and guilt offering המנחה והחטאת והאשם (Yehezkel 44:29)? Grain, Guilt, Sin!
The Bible warns us of more evil than just bread. Haman–that wicked wicked carbohydrate-eared man–set out to kill the Jews in שושן הבירה Shushan ha-Bira. Not Shushan Ha-Yayin, “wine,” nor even Shushan Ha-Diet Soda, but Shushan Ha-Bira : Bira meaning “beer”! Be warned! As it is written שכר את תשת “Don’t drink beer” (Vayikra 10:9)! Only with a feast of cholestorol-reducing red wine, and a fast, abstaining from carbohydrates, did Ester save Am Yisrael from their doom! On the holiday of Purim, a nasty custom of passing around candies and cake has emerged. This perversion is mentioned nowhere in the holy books, which talk only about Shalach Manos of salami and other protein-rich healthy food. Most likely, the custom is a borrowing from the idolatrous gentile holiday of Halloween, just as Hanukkah has turned into a sick imitation of Christmas. The pagan goyishe holiday of Halloween involves not only costumes but also death, skeletons, sweets, demons, candied apples, ghosts, caramel corn, and zombies. Come on, Jews, let’s get over that. And in fact, the honored Mara D’atra Gedol Hador Morenu Rabbeinu Rabbi Yona Metzger, Chief Rabbi of Israel, has issued a call to leave sweets out of Mishloach Manot. When is the Jewish people going to start following Halacha, already?
And cake! Honi the wonder-worker beseeched the L-rd to break a drought with long-awaited rains. He knew what to do: He told the people to get rid of the matza ovens that stood outside their houses צאו והכניסו תנורים. Well did he know the curse awaiting sinful Israel בשברי לכם מטה לחם “when I give you bread [שבר means ‘give bread’ and also ‘smash’, see above], smiting you as with a staff,” אפו עשר נשים לחמכם בתנור אחד “ten women, crazed by a glucose-drop ‘carb rush,’ will fight to bake bread in a single oven” והשיבו לחמכם במשקל ואכלתם “they’ll grab back their bread, get fat, stuff it in their mouth,” ולא תשבעו “yet they will never feel like they’ve eaten enough” (a common phenomenon, as the fluctuating insulin levels make you want to eat more and more carbs; Vayikra 26:26). Honi knew he had to prevent such a situation. After Honi’s intervention, the problem seemed solved: Rains soon arrived, to fertilize the fields of low-carb yams and cucumbers (Taanit 3:8). But his story has a sad ending: Honi baked a cake עג עוגה, and then fell into an insulin-shock coma for seventy years, waking with suicidal ideations (Taanit 23A). For goodness sake, stay off the cake! (Hover here for a comment on the Anglo-Saxon legal system: **).
Cake, too, עוגה_,_ makes a true Jew’s heart sink upon remembering עוג, that wicked king who set out to slay us as surely as wheat, oats, sugar (**), and honey do slay! Like the other king, Eglon of Moab, the only obese man in the Bible, described in such loathsome detail–his obesity coming from carbohydrates–those monarchs thought that they could oppress and destroy the Jewish people through carbs. Eglon died as he deserved, cooped up, like a Philistine, with white-bread-induced constipation (**) in the toilet, at the hands of the righteous judge Ehud (Shoftim 3:21). Nor did Ehud stop there–he then proceeded to slay others of that sinful nation of bloated oppressors ויכו את מואב בעת ההיא כעשרת אלפים איש–כל שמן Ehud and his men “slew at that time of Moab some ten thousand men, every one of them fat” (ibid., v. 29).
But Am Yisrael could do better than that, sustained at the hand of Hashem by miraculous proteinaceous quail in the desert! Even when the nation of newly freed ex-slaves demanded, in their weakness, bread and sweet foods, they received instead מן Manna, whose “taste was like unto a wafer in honey” וטעמו כצפיחת בדבש (Shmot 16:31). Note! Not “it was a wafer in honey” but “its taste was like unto a wafer in honey.” The desert was a holy place, where Am Yisrael received the Torah, where they lived on protein-rich food (מדבר is related to Aramaic דבר meaning “to lead sheep,” in other words to engage in high-protein food production). As it is written לכתך אחרי במדבר בארץ לא זרועה קדש ישראל לה’ ראשית תבואתה כל אכליו יאשמו רעה תבא אליהם נאם יהוה” Israel is holy unto the L-rd – you followed me in the desert, a place unseeded [with wheat or other carbs]. All who eat the first produce [wheat etc.] are guilty. Bad things will happen to them, saith the L-rd” (Yirmiyahu 2:2-3).
The manna was not, to be quite clear about it, bread. Indeed the whining Israelites asked for bread (ibid., v. 3), but what the Holy One Blessed Be He gave them was not bread, which is why the children of Israel were totally unable to even recognize the stuff, and Moshe had to calm them down and assured them that it was, in fact, low-carb bread substitute: “They did not know what it was, and Moshe said to them, ‘It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat’” לא ידעו מה הוא ויאמר משה אלהם הוא הלחם אשר נתן ה’ לכם לאכלה (ibid, v. 15). (Moshe himself was completely virtuous in this matter, as he says ארבעים יום וארבעים לילה לחם לא אכלתי “for forty days and forty nights I ate no bread” (Dvarim 9:8) But Am Yisrael were not so strong: The Aibishter sustains the weak-souled, and supports those whose strength is flagging, and gives artificial sweeteners to those who lack the will to abstain. Onkelos describes it as גלידא “ice cream (a healthy high-fat food when sweetened with Sucralose),” certainly a miraculous food in the desert (ibid., v. 14). And when, over three thousand years later, whinging Jews again demanded bread “מנהיג, תן לחם” this time from David Ben-Gurion, that brave man answered לחם אין לי, חזון יש לי “I don’t have bread, I have prophetic vision” – that founder of the reborn Jewish state sure knew his Bible!
Even with low-carb substitutes, it is important to monitor one’s intake to avoid exceeding over one’s carb limits. That’s why the Israelites were punished for going over the amounts specified in their diet plan (ibid., vv.10-21). That’s the explanation for the otherwise inexplicable metrological coda to Parashat Ha-man והעמר עשרית האפה הוא “And the omer is a tenth of an ephah” (ibid., v.36). And if you’ve got to do it anyway, better an omer than an ephah! As it says in the Bible: לא יהיה לך בביתך איפה ואיפה גדולה וקטנה “You must not have in your house a single ephah of flour, no ephah whatsoever, large or small” (ibid. 25:14) and likewise איפה ואיפה תועבת ה’ גם שניהם “one ephah of flour or another, larger or smaller, it is an abomination unto the L-rd” (Mishlei 20:6). Not for nothing has the phrase איפה ואיפה “An ephah of flour, and yet another” become a byword for fraud and cheating.
But back to the Israelites in their wanderings: Thus is their diet, as decreed by the Holy One Blessed Be He: אולך אתכם ארבעים שנה במדבר לחם לא אכלתם למען תדעו כי אני ה’ אלהיכם “I led you through the desert for forty years; and you did not eat bread, that you may know that I am the L-rd your G-d” (Dvarim 29:4-5). But at last, the bitter end had to come: They whined so much for bread that Moshe gave in and gave them some more healthy light bread, לחם קלוקל “light bread.” (קלוקל, from the root קל, refers to a “light bread” (Ibn Ezra) product–the verb קלקל “spoil” is a later backformation, not a Biblical word, though it does make some sense to associate bread with spoilage, since the word kilkel means both “give bread” and “spoil”). Just to make it clear. Light bread is not all that good for you, but usually each slice is smaller, and so has fewer carbs. But they were too rotten even for the light bread, demanding fluffy white Wonder Bread. So, as you may expect, they were bitten by flaming serpents (Bamidbar 21:5).
As one more tasty treat (just kidding, this is going to get disgusting), let’s dive into the deeper meaning of the Manna.
The midrash tells us that the Bney Yisrael did not have to defecate for 40 years in the desert, so long as they were eating manna. But don’t think that that means that Manna was some sort of formless spiritual substance. No way! Manna was לחם קלוקלת “yucky bread” (as Hebrew מקולקל). Instead, Manna was absorbed in their body for forty straight years! That’s no ordinary digestive “irregularity,” like they call it in the laxative commercials!
As we read in the Midrash (Sifre to Tehilim 78) אמר ר’ שמעון בן לקיש (שמות טז יד) והנה על פני המדבר דק מחספס. שלא היה אחד נצרך לנקביו … שהיה נבלע ברמ”ח איברים שבאדם שנאמר לחם אבירים אכל איש “Rabbi Shimon Resh Lakish said (on Shemot 16:14) “There it was, on the desert, some scraps of scratchy stuff. No one needed to excrete. It would get absorbed in his entire body, as we learn from the quote (Tehilim 78:25) ‘each person ate the bread of the parts of the body’ [reading Abirim as Evarim.]” Baal Haturim points out קלקל. בגימ’ זה רמ”ח, שנבלע ברמ”ח אברים; the word קלקל used here, equals in Gematria, the number representing the entire body. This is no ordinary constipation where the stuff builds up in the gut–this is full-body-shaking killer constipation! Just as happened centuries later to to the Philistines–bread, especially the low-fiber kind, clogs you up. But this is over-the-top!
And just to get that point straight – “absorbing” the manna doesn’t just mean it suffused their bodies with ethereal light. Again, good ol’ Resh Lakish is obsessed with this stuff Sifre to Tehilim 78): אמר ר’ שמעון בן לקיש היו ישראל מתרעמים ואומרים יש לך ילוד אשה אוכל ואינו מוציא ראית מימיך נותן חיטים לתוך הריחים ואינה מוציאה קמח. “Resh Lakish said: Bnei Yisrael were complaining and saying ‘There’s never been a human who ate and didn’t excrete! Have you ever seen that after someone put wheat into a mill, it didn’t let out flour.” (Yes, Resh Lakish just used flour as a metaphor for poo poo. Or poo poo as a metaphor for wheat. Convinced yet!). Going on אמר הקב”ה… הם מתרעמים עלי ואומרים (במדבר כא ה) נפשנו קצה בלחם (שם יד יא) עד אנה ינאצוני מהו בקרבו בבני מעים שלהם שהיו אוכלים ולא היו מוציאים כלום. ”The Holy One Blessed Be He said ‘ Bnei Yisrael are whining against me and saying [Bamidbar 21:5] ‘We are sick of the bread [like who wouldn’t be, ibid 14:11]. How much longer will they be so nasty to me, obsessing about their kishkes, just because they eat but don’t excrete!’”
And boy was He ever upset at those bloated carb-suckers. As it says a few verses down (Tehilim 78:31) ואף אלהים עלה בהם ויהרג במשמניהם“ G-d got really mad at them and killed the fattest!
Now, you’re probably thinking that Resh Lakish was a fatso (כריסי כרי “my fat is my cushion” [Gittin 47a]) and a pervert (Baba Metzia 84) who got one too many whacks in the gladiatorial arena. Such a person might be expected to develop an obsession with carbs, and Number 2. But here is what Rashi says: לפי שהמן נבלע באיברים קראהו קלוקל, אמרו, עתיד המן הזה שיתפח במעינו Manna is called “Lehem Klokel because it got absorbed into their body parts. The Bnei Yisrael said ‘This manna is gonna swell up in our intestines” (on Bamidbar 21:5). Siftei Hachamim, commenting on this Rashi, explains שיתפח מדכתיב הקלוקל בחול”ם משמע לשון קלקול ממש היינו שיתפח במעיו: “The exact spelling of the word קלוקל is used for Manna to indicate that the yucky stuff swells up in the gut.” מדכתיב קלקל חסר היינו לשון קל שלא היה צריך לעכלו If it haג been spelled otherwise, the word would have meant that the Manna did not even need to be digested– but this is not the case.
Rashi on Avoda Zara 5b repeats the point about non-absorption and non-excretion. He goes on רגנו על כך והיא היתה להם טובה גדולה שלא היו צריכין לטרוח ולצאת שלש פרסאות “They complained about absorbing the manna, but actually it was a good thing for them because they didn’t have to take the trouble to go out of the huge camp (3 parasangs = 7 miles across) to do a poo.
Still, if you know your Torah, might might have noticed an apparent contradiction. Siftei Hachamim (again on Rashi on Bamidbar 21:5) points out that the requirement to carry around a spade to cover up your excrement (Devarim 23:14), seems to contradict the Rabinnical consensus that Bnei Yisrael were eunbelievably constipated for the full forty years. ואם תאמר והלא כתיב ויתד תהיה לך על אזנך והיה בשבתך חוץ וגו’ שמע מינה שהיה להם יציאה ויש לומר ממה שקונים מן התגרים היו מוציאים. In fact, they did do some poo poo. How? Because they bought food from merchants! Vegetables with fiber, please!
And doodoo did they do! The Moabite women enticed them with sex, idolatry, and the opportunity to do a big big Number Two. That must have been quite a relief after those forty stuffed-up years! As it is written (Bamidbar 25:1-5) ישב ישראל, בשטים “Yisrael stayed at Shittim” (Really, that’s what it is called. I am not making this up) and יחל העם, לזנות אל-בנות מואב “the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab.” תקראן לעם לזבחי אלהיהן ויאכל העם “and they called the goals to the sacrifices of their gods and they ate” (carb-eating and idolatry, connection reappears). ויצמד ישראל לבעל פעור “And Yisrael worshipped Baal Peor.” The word for “worship” here, ויצמד, is unusual in context. Rashi, following Sifre , says that this means פוערין לפניו פי הטבעת ומוציאן רעי וזו היא עבודתו that the idolaters, and the rebellious Bnei Yisrael with them, would pull open their anus towards the idol and let out excrement; that is the worship of Baal Peor.
I hope you are thoroughly disgusted by now, and ready to receive the moral of the story. Light bread כ is not good for you! Not even super-light-bread לחם קלקל (following Ibn Ezra). It’s just a fake diet product created by the corporations to make you think it will help you use weight! It has exactly the same percentage of carbohydrates as any other bread! If you at least go for some whole-grain bread, I won’t say it’s actually good for you but you’ll get the fiber you need to avoid constipation without the need to turn to idol worship for relief.
Finally came the Israelite’s most despicable sin (guess which sin?), which resulted in the withdrawal of the healthful manna: ויאכלו מעבור הארץ מצות וקלוי בעצם היום הזה וישבת המן ממחרת באכלם מעבור הארץ ולא היה עוד לבני ישראל מן “They ate matzos and roasted wheat from the grain of the land. On the morrow of that very day, the manna ceased forever in the land, after they had eaten from the grain of the land, and there was no more manna for the children of Israel” (Yehoshua 5:11-12).
Scholars debate the sense of the word שבלת Shibbolet: Men of Gil’ad demanded that the men of Efraim speak this as a password at the ford of the Yarden (Shoftim 12:6). But which of its two meanings does שבלת have in this context, “stream” or “sheaf of wheat”? Have no doubt but that שבלת means “wheat,” the wicked epitome of carbohydrates! For when the Efraimites spoke the word, the Giladites slew them dead on the spot. The password of death is Death!
Another mystery, Zecharya 5:6-11, is solved when one understand that carbohydrates at all times symbolize the deepest depths of evil: This parable includes the ephah איפה, the measure of flour in which sits the woman of whom the angel says, quite accurately, זאת הרשעה “This is Wickedness.” After Zecharya’s angel seals the Wickedness-bearing flour-pot tight, two more angels bear the flour container off to the land of Shinar, center of wickedness where the tower of Bavel was built and whence Nebuchadnezzar came to destroy G-d’s holy house; they dump the carb-pot there. Is there any doubt about the meaning of this strange story when one reflects on this?
So beware, good Jews, and keep distant from carbohydrates of all kinds. Stick to the proteins. As it is written תאכלו את הארבה למינו “You shall eat the locusts of all types” (Vayikra 11:19). Not תאכלו את הארבה אם אתם רוצים “you shall eat the locust if you want” or תאכלו את הארבה אם י תחשק לכם “you shall eat the locust if you feel like it” but תאכלו את הארבה למינו “You shall eat the locust.” Likewise, the Torah tells us to eat תאכלו protein-rich eat chickens, deer, and cattle. Not once does it say תאכלו דברי מאפה למיניהם “You shall eat all kinds of baked goods.”
Take a lesson from the Plagues of Egypt, when Hashem destroyed the sinful barley (Shmot 9:31), and instead provided healthful locusts (Shmot 10:1). (Insects are 90% protein, more even than other meat-animals.) Yes, eat proteins, with red wine which brings us into the higher sanctity of Shabbat, while the חלּה Halla (with dagesh, from the same root as חלל Halal, “corpse” [Devarim 21:2], and quite similar to חלה “writhing in pain” [Yeshaya 66:8]), hides under its cloth in shame. The word Halla technically refers not to the yukky stuff which you’re tempted to eat, but specifically and precisely to that which the L-rd has commanded us to destroy by fire. For goodness sake, don’t eat that stuff: דבק ליבנו במצוותיך was not meant to be taken literally! חלה means “he got sick” in Hebrew, a fact beautifully noted in this Haredi Balabuste’s Cookbook.
Carbs are death! And when the Lord shall swallow up death and wipe away every tear בלע המות לנצח ומחה אדנ-י ה’ דמעה מעל כל פנים (Yeshayahu 25:8), the festive banquet to be served will not be carbs, you better bet, but rather fatty foods, cholesterol-reducing red wine, nutritional yeast, and marrow, yum: עשה ה’ משתה שמנים משתה שמרים שמנים ממחים שמרים מזקקים (ibid., v.6).
“I Have Eaten Honey, I Deserve to Die”
Honey! Speak not of honey to those who strive for righteousness! Even a speck of honey in the incense of the Beit Mikdash brought sentence of death! As it is said כי כל שאר וכל דבש, לא תקטירו ממנו אשה ליהוה “for you shall not offer up any carbohydrates or honey as an offering by fire to the Lord” (Vayikra 2:11). And the Mishna reminds אם נתן בה דבש, פסלה “if one puts honey in the incense, one invalidates it.” The Bible speaks of דבש devash and נפת nofet, two words for the evil, evil, simple carbohydrates, the sugars which threaten the life of every good Jew. Though typically translated “honey,” these words can mean any kind of sugar, including date, fig, or even cane sugar (shudder). But whatever simple carbohydrate is meant by דבש, it leads to death, as when those sinners Datan and Aviram, followers of Korah, whined to Moshe for דבש (Bamidbar 16:13): ותבקע האדמה אשר תחתיהם ותפתח הארץ את פיה ותבלע אתם “The ground did cleave asunder under them. And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up” (ibid., v. 31-32). (Osama Bin Laden raised and laundered money through a network of–you guessed it–honey shops! Twenty years later, candy shops in the UK are opened to launder Afghan terror money–nothing changes!. Speaking of terrorists, wheat, too, is terror: hitta means “wheat” and “terror” in Hebrew (See Breshit 35:5). And did you know that right after 9/11, some enterprising businesspeople named a product after Bin Laden–a very successful product. What product do you think it was? Yes, indeed!!)
Herod the Wicked murdered his wife and pickled her in a jar of honey (Bava Batra 3a)! He sure didn’t pack her in aspartame!
Shlomo HaMelech knew better, “It is not good to eat too much honey” אכל דבש הרבות לא טוב (Mishlei 25:27). Right: honey, like all carbs, make you fat and violent: וינקהו דבש עם חטה וישמן ישרון ויבעט, שמנת עבית כשית “And he fed him [the people Israel] honey with wheat, and Yeshurun got fat and kicked, you got thick and covered in fat” (Devarim 32:13-15)! Obesity is quite the worst thing anyone can do, as Nehemya (9:25-26) tells us: וישמינו וימרו וימרדו בך ואת נביאיך הרגו “When they got fat, they were disobedient and rebelled against G-d, and killed His prophets.” Thus saith the L-rd: ואת השמנה אשמיד “I will destroy the fat lady” (Yehezkel 34:15).
Shimshon ate the דבש from the lion’s treifeneh carcass (Shoftim 14:8-9), on his way to the land where he would marry a devious shiksa, then lose his eyesight and his life. If only he had followed the model of the holy angel of G-d who said “Even if you detain me, I will not eat your bread” אם תעצרני לא אכל בלחמך (ibid. 13:16). Shimshon, that brave but conflicted character, was not a bad man: In righteous wrath, he virtuously burned the iniquitous wheat of the wicked Philistines (ibid. 15:5), those same Philistines who in despoiling Israel, grabbed first the granary והמה שסים את הגרנות (I Shmuel 23:1) – not the gold, not the jewels, it was the grain they lusted after. Yet Shimshon had his darker side–in whoring with shikses, he specifically chose one who was a זונה, a provider of food, and carbs in particular (Onkelos, Radak, and Ralbag on Shoftim 16:1). Shimshon, who started going wrong with honey, ended up grinding wheat–yes, wheat (ibid., v. 21)! He died in the temple of דגון Dagon, the evil Philistine god whose name is a common Phoenician variant (philological note **) of דגן Dagan, “grain.” This is the temple in which the Philistines were smitten with hemorrhoids (I Shmuel 5), the natural outcome of a low-fiber refined-grain diet. (Wicked Lavan, לבן “white,” was called that because of the extreme wickedness of refined-flour white bread.)
It is no coincidence that many of the foul foreign gods whose worship we are commanded to eschew are carb-gods. Not for nothing does the Mishnah use the term שדה בעל, a “Field of Baal” to describe a dry-farming field, typically used in Eretz Yisrael for growing grains ( ** ). Those Jews who stray and eat cakes, crackers, are often exactly those who descend into heresy–we make the blessing of G-d ברא מיני מזונות “who wipes out the heretical carb-cults” (מינים are heretical cults; for this use of ברא, see Yehoshua 17:15,18). The Torah warns against bringing the bread, which is so characteristic of false foreign gods, as a sacrifice: ומיד בן נכר לא תקריבו את לחם אלהיכם מכל אלה כי משחתם בהם מום בם לא ירצו לכם “Do not offer the bread of the false gods brought by a foreigner, for its corruption is in it, it is flawed, it will not be accepted from you (Vayikra 22:25).
Eliyahu’s launched his bloody show-down with the Baal-priests, who put on their pathetic show – they couldn’t even get a decent pot-roast going – quite appropriately on Mount Caramel (1 Melachim 18). As the Rabbinate has declared about the 2010 Caramel Fire, “Worship of the golden calf and pita baking caused the fire.” (See news reports in Hebrew and English.) If you have ever wondered why we have special “pat Israel” kashrut regulations for bread as opposed to other foods, it’s exactly because bread is a notorious tool of idolatry, and we suspect that gentiles could have made the bread as an offering to their false gods. Yes, bread and sweet things and other carbs are the stuff of idolatry ותעשי לך צלמי זכר תכסים לחמי, סלת ושמן ודבש ונתתיהו לפניהם “Thou didst make idols and set bread, fine flour, and honey before them a sweet savour” (Yehezkel 16:19). In fact, the root for “idolatrous worship” is that of “barley” (as שעירים “idolatrously worship”, Vayikra 17:7). Yeshayahu as always speaks elegant poetry, mocking the idol-maker and the bread-maker in one: אפה לחם עשהו פסל ויסגד למו the man who “bakes bread then makes it into an idol for hi∑self and bows to it” (Yeshaya 44:15). Yeshayahu further scoffs at the idol-maker who says אפיתי על גחליו לחם ואכל לבול עץ אסגוד “I baked bread on the coals and ate it, then I bow down to the block of wood (which helped bake the bread)” (ibid., v. 19). Yirmiyahu, too, asks rhetorically about the worst possible behavior committed in Yehuda האינך ראה מה המה עשים בערי יהודה ובחצות ירושלם “Can’t you see what they are doing in the cities Yehuda and the streets of Jerusalem” (Yirmiyahu 7:17), and of course he is talking about the traitors who prepare bread (not hotdogs, you can bet) for the pagan deities הנשים לשות בצק לעשות כונים למלכת השמים (ibid., v. 18) **. Then, in an elegaic switch from reproof to consolation so common to Yirmiyahu, he immediately follows up with כה אמר ה’ צבאות אכלו בשר ”Thus saith the L-rd of Hosts: Eat meat!” (ibid., v. 21). Notice that meat בשׂר has the same root as בשׂר “bring good tidings”? What better tidings than a nice steak!
Beware temptation! Do not become like that woman who succumbed to the wicked sweet allure of simple carbs! כי נפת תטפנה שפתיה ואחריתה מרה כלענה, רגליה ירדות מות; שאול צעדיה יתמכו, לא תדע “Her lips drip נפת nofet (sugar), but her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps descend to the nether-world; she knows not what she does” (Mishlei 5:3-5). This is the woman who shall have pear-shaped hips!
Yonatan, son of Sha’ul knew this well. He was a good man, like his father, but all too prone to human weakness. When the children of Israel saw honeycombs, they virtuously stayed away ויבא העם אל היער והנה הלך דבש ואין משיג ידו אל פיו (I Shmuel 14:25). When Yonatan erred, dipping his staff in the יערת דבש (described by Rashi as “sugar cane”, and by others as “honey-comb”) and then putting it to his lips וישלח את קצה המטה אשר בידו, ויטבל אותה ביערת הדבש; וישב ידו אל פיו (ibid 14:27), there could be only one outcome for him, and he knew it: ויאמר טעם טעמתי מעט דבש הנני אמות “‘I have eaten sugar, I deserve to die,’ he cried” (ibid., v. 43 with Targum Onkelos) or, according to another translation “I have eaten sugar, and now I am about to die.” Yonatan was a wise and pious man, and well did he know the wages of sin.
Warning! Christianity always rips off our good ideas. Don’t pay any attention to the rantings of madmen. And feel free to laugh at the Oto-Ha’ish-freak Poe’s-Law victim who takes this page seriously. We’ve known about the evil of carbs since way back when! Their religion worships a man who claimed to be made entirely of carbohydrates. What the…!?
Multiplying loaves of bread?! What sort of wicked wizard goes around doing that, huh?!