Our tradition 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.
Cursed from Day One
The first ever Issur? Wheat. The first sin? Eating wheat. The forbidden tree in Gan Eden was wheat! (Breishit Rabba 15:7; Berakhot 40a). 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). Chava’s curse was, per Hassidic tradition, to prepare challa, related to the item in the list of three things are doom women to die (Mishna Shabbat 2:6)! (If you can stand it, this sick bread-pusher actually brags about these three curses!)
Bread is bloodshed. The very word bread, לֶחֶם, comes from the same root as מלחמה, “war”; the Bible even uses plain לֶחֶם to mean “war”(Shoftim:5:8) . Likewise, פיצּה “pizza” (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, just Google it.)
The word מצה Matza, a type of carb if you didn’t notice, 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 “jam”, which contains over 60% sugar, also means “fighting” and “strife.” Coincidence? I think not.)
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). These coals are the same as the רצפים, “the cake of burning coals” (I Melakhim 19:6), which the carb eater unbelievably actually eats!!!
מאפיה Mafia means both “criminal gang” and “bakery” in Hebrew. Is there a difference? (If you think there is, visit this.)
Bread is death
As it is written: לא על הלחם יחיה האדם “Not by bread may a man live” (Dvarim 8:3).
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! (Nice item on death-and-carbs here.)
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: chitta 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!.
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) (**.)
Halacha prohibits any kind of bread, wholegrain or white, for rich or poor שלא תהא אתה אוכל פת נקיה והוא אוכל פת קיבר “Neither you nor your servant should eat bread, of any type” Kidushin 20a.
Mourn for the lost protein; mourn for the eaten carbs
“Eating bread” is a Biblical euphemism for widowhood, divorce, and barrenness (Vayikra 22:13). Fortunately, this euphemism has been lost from popular speech; after all, a euphemism is not much good when it is more repugnant than the topic it is euphemising.
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). A ban on carbs brings a festival of happy freedom, freedom from carbs!
Then, 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 deepest humiliation (from the root of התעמר “to abuse”). The Omer is the time between the barley-curse of Pesach and the wheat-curse in Shavuot, and for this we hand our head in mourning. 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 wheat.” Now that’s what I call an aptonym!
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.
Is not חטה chitta, “wheat,” like unto חטא chatta, “sin”, and so also like unto the wicked Chitti whom we are commanded to exterminate (Davarim 7:1)? 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 (Iyov 4:8). Is it really a metaphor when they’re really the same thing?
On Rosh Hashana, we symbolize throwing away our sin by throwing away our bread. Full sin-to-bread mapping.) How different from the Kapparot, rich in protein, which do not symbolize sin but rather remove it — 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. The difference appears unclear at first. But is it any surprise that מחל, an anagram of לחם, has the specialized meaning of “forgive for the eating of bread”, 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-heavy 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.) And on Tisha Beav we remember the sad consequences of a sinful generation that seeks bread (Ekha 1:11). They virtuously try to destroy the enemy Assyria and Egypt by giving them bread (Ekha 5:6), but the people is to weak and sinful and in the end just destroy their own lives with bread בנפשנו נביא לחמינו(Eikha 5:9).
Against the grain!
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 struggled against this 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 he take the throne.
Yonatan, son of Sha’ul knew temptation. 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.
David in contrast 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 והם המתו בימי קציר בראשנים תחלת קציר שערים(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. 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” (II Shmuel 6:19). This led directly to the worse sort of sin (ibid v. 21-22; Tosefta Sota 6:6 on the interpretation).
So David was forbidden to build the Bet HaMikdash, but he did merit one important thing, 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)! Later, right after David eliminated the threshing-floor and purified the spot, the place was at long last ready, and the Bet Mikdash was built right there!
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, wheaty carb-slabs: ותקח קמח ותפהו מצות ויאכלו (ibid., v. 24). That was the death of him: The next day he left this world. 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?
Your weak and sinful soul
The story of Shaul is all about the weakness of the human will. 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 fatso 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.”
The struggle against temptation goes on forever. Annually, we burn by fire the carbs in our house 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.
The witch’s staff
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). We know that “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), and 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 Yechezkel: “Woe,” he says, “to those who conjure to raise the dead, who desecrate my people” (“desecrate” ותחללנה, from the same root as חלה, challa-bread) “with barley and pieces of bread” בשעלי שערים ובפתותי לחם (Yechezkel 13:18-19)!
Like the word חק can also mean “staff”, the wicked wizard’s staff of bread, though here חקק is more about gashing than smashing (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.”
Pity the fool
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”—robbery and sugar, side by side.
Yosef the anti-breader
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 Achav 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 Achav 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 Yosef’s charge, and had no concern for anything but the bread that he ate…. Yosef 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).
What’s on that wagon?
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) Rightly did Uzzah deserve death for leading the wagon too close to that place of wickedness.
The story of Potiphar’s wife takes us to other cases where sexual perversion 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) (**)
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: **).
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 exploitative form of sexual relations characteristic of decadent modern society?
The offensive slur זונה, euphemistically translated “whore,” actually means something much worse, one who feeds people [carbohydrates]” (Rashi and Targum Yonatan on Yehoshua 2:1).
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! Hoshea really knows how to dig it in. Like he saysכי 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).
Those who practice Sodomy (a hideous perversion usually spoken about in euphemisms, but Yechezkel the prophet, known for his severe concern for personal purity, leaves no doubt as to the meaning) are condemned not just for their carb-consumption but for not exercising enough to work it off: “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 too much, as it is said (Iyov 28:5) ‘the earth from which bread comes turned into fire’” (In that Midrash you can find a lot of stories about how pigging out turns makes you a bad person. Too much to quote here: Read it yourself.)
“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). He further says: “Honey: You eat your fill and vomit it up” דבש—תשבענו והקאתו. (ibid. 25:16).
The Zohar blames the descent into madness in Egypt on bread-eating: כד נחתו ישראל למצרים לא יטעמון נהמא דמצראי, לא אשתבקו בגלותא, ולא יעיקון לון מצראי “When Yisrael descended into Egypt, had they not tasted the bread of Egypt, they would not have been forsaken in Egypt, and the Egyptians would not have been able to harm them.” מאן דהוא אזיל בתר מעוי, אי אערע בההוא רע עין, יכוס גרמיה ולא ייכול מנהמא דיליה “One who eats more than other people, following his gut, being accustomed to fill his stomach with dainties, should commit suicide rather than eat the evil-eyed bread” (Zohar Shemot section 2 page 3a).
Shimshon: Gibbor? Not so much when carbs are involved
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.)
Idolatry is tightly bound up with 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” (Yechezkel 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 himself 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!
Once there was a wicked wicked man.
Haman — that carbohydrate-eared villain — 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. You’re confused because the pagan goyishe holiday of Halloween involves costumes; but it also involves 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?
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). Oy! 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 which she was given ran out, because Hagar, showing some sense, tossed it rather than eating it. As a reward, 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.
Weep your tears!
Cry out your sorrow! האכלתם לחם דמעה “you fed them bread, which is like weeping” (Tehilim 80:6). Quoth David the King 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.
שבר בת עמי
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 (ibid. 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).
שבר “grain,” is in fact synonymous with desecration of holy days of rest, as Nechemya (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.”
Yo! All grains are grody to the max. Think of how the Aibishter commanded Yechezkel 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, “you should make bread of wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and to bake it on human dung” (Yechezkel 4:9-11). Human dung? In the bread? You got it. Poo-poo, doo doo, bread-dough. (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! Yechezkel was disgusted! No way had the holy prophet eaten, nor would he ever eat such an unclean and impure thing thing as bread 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. Yechezkel 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 Yechezkel 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!
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 sugar (from dates or 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 things that they are!” (Hilchot Melachim 12:5).
Like Eglon king of Moab, the only obese man in the Bible, described in such loathsome detail — 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). You might not have made the connection to constipation before, but curiously, most words for carbohydrates share roots with words for “bind up, close, seal,” as for example סוכר “sugar/close up”, ארז “rice/wrap up”, נחתום “baker/seal up.” Even that basic term for ultimate evil, לחם “bread”, has a root that means “glue up, bind together” (besides the obvious meaning of “war,” mentioned above). 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 in Moab some ten thousand men, every one of them fat” (ibid., v. 29).
Let me tell you a story Gittin 56a: 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 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, even 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” [She’s desperate! Can’t she just leave 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.” Now, should I tell you what happens next? It’s quite logical. What bread taken to its limit? Think about it… OK, if you haven’t guessed it yet, the next thing that happens is that she steps in some … well, should I say it… no, not bread this time, poo-poo … and dies. What a hideous story
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 itchy stuff. No one needed to excrete. It would get absorbed in his entire body, as we learn (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 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: ”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!’” 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.
Now, you’re probably thinking that Resh Lakish was a fatso (כריסי כרי “my fat is my cushion” [Gittin 47a )] and a pervert (Bava Metzia 84) who got one too many whacks in the head back when he was a gladiator. Such a person might be expected to develop an obsession with carbs, and with Number 2. But here is what Rashi says (on Bamidbar 21:5):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.’” 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 had 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, you 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 Rabbinical consensus that Bnei Yisrael were unbelievably 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 some high-fiber, low carb vegetables from passing merchants!
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. 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.
Honi the Wonder-Worker
And cake! As s an act of repentance, to beseech the L-rd to break a drought with long-awaited rains, Honi told the people to get rid of the matza ovens that stood outside their houses (Taanit 23a). He did this because he knew the curse awaiting sinful Israel בשברי לכם מטה לחם “when I give you bread [שבר means ‘give bread’ and also ‘smash’], 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 their bread, and gaining back the weight, 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. Cake! Same root as עוג, that wicked king who set out to slay us as sugar (**). So, poor fallen Honi fell into an insulin-shock coma for seventy years, waking with suicidal ideations . For goodness sake, stay off the cake! (Hover here for a comment on the Anglo-Saxon legal system: **).
Eating fat doesn’t make you fat; eating carbs does.
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 Nechemya (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” (Yechezkel 34:15).
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.
Eat fat, don’t get fat! The Lord abhors fat people! As it is written (Tehilim 78:31) ואף אלהים עלה בהם ויהרג במשמניהם“ G-d got really mad at them and killed the fattest!
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?
In the Bet Hamikdash, the offerings were high-protein meat. High-protein worm meat, תולעת had a place of honor (Shmot 26:. In addition, certain types of low-carb vegetable matter including כרובים cabbage (ibid.) and almonds שקד (ibid, 25:33) had the place of sanctity 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!
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 Israelites? But a glance at Rashi and at the Targum settles it quickly: ארי בעירא דמצראי דחלין ליה עבראי אכלין “for the Egyptians worshipped the small cattle that the Israelites eat.” The word לחם here was used in an alternative sense (as in Arabic) referring 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.
Take a lesson too 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. As it is written תאכלו את הארבה למינו “You shall eat the locusts of all types” (Vayikra 11:19). The excuse of some modern ”Rabbis” that we don’t know exactly what type of locust makes no sense. Four species are enumerated, with למינו ”of all its species” and then again ”למינהו.” How much more emphatic can you get? Not תאכלו את הארבה אם אתם רוצים “you shall eat the locust if you want” orתאכלו את הארבה אם יתחשק 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 explicitly 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.”
You may think that you avoid carbs there is nothing left to eat, but I have mentioned fat and protein as essential dietary elements. Wine, too. Wine which brings us into the higher sanctity of Shabbat, while the חלּה challa (from the same root as חלל chalal, “corpse” [Devarim 21:2], like 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.
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).
Not all vegetable matter is grains. Some types of vegetable matter are low in glycemic index and so acceptable, like almonds and cabbage. The contrast between lentils and barley comes through quite clearly.
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 a dolt. 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 Shmuel 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.”
Manna from heaven
Am Yisrael was 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. Though the whining Israelites moped for the days when they ate all the bread they wanted באכלינו לחם לשבע (Shmot 16:3), and the Holy One Blessed promised to rain bread on them (ibid. v.4),he cleverly provided ersatz low-carb bread substitute instead, which is why the children of Israel were totally unable to even recognize the stuff, and Moshe had to calm them down: “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).
Even with low-carb substitutes, it is important to limit one’s intake to avoid exceeding over one’s 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” (ibid. 25:14), and likewise איפה ואיפה תועבת ה’ גם שניהם “one ephah of flour or another, either way 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.
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: Yet 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). Likewise, over three thousand years later, whinging Jews again demanded bread “מנהיג, תן לחם” this time from David Ben-Gurion, he bravely answered לחם אין לי, חזון יש לי “I don’t have bread, I have prophetic vision” — Ben Gurion sure knew his Bible!
But back to the Israelites in their wanderings: This 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 bread, though of course it was a somewhat healthier light bread: לחם קלוקל (קלוקל, from the root קל, refers to a “light bread” [Ibn Ezra]. You may know the verb קלקל “spoil”, but that is a later backformation, not found in the Bible. Still, it does make some sense to associate bread with spoilage, as in fact 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. Yet the Children of Israel were too far gone even for the light bread, demanding fluffy white Wonder Bread. So, as you may expect, they were devoured by flaming serpents (Bamidbar 21:5).
Finally came the Israelite’s most despicable sin, carb-eating, 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).
Sick sick sick
Wheat germ like other germs, is the origin of disease,
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.
Bread and other carbs rot your teeth far more than meat, as the Lord spoke at the hands of his prophet Amos (4:6): נקיון שנים “cleanness of teeth” is followed in perfect poetic parallelism by “lack of bread” וגם אני נתתי לכם נקיון שנים וחסר לחם.
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.”
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 (Nechemya 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.)
In the time of Nechemya, 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 taking grain and eating it ותהי צעקת העם גדולה ויש אשר אמרים נקחה דגן ונאכלה (Nechemya 5:1-2). The pious leader Nechemya set them aright with his personal example, as he and other righteous Jews abstained from bread, in contrast to the bread-eating wicked governors who came before 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)!
Lies and treachery
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 (1: 7) tells us **). 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).
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)!
(By the way, the word פתות means both “pieces of bread” and “seduce with trickery.” As if you haven’t noticed yet.)
All mysteries solved
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 difficult passage, Zecharya 5:6-11, is readily resolved. 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 tight the Wickedness-bearing flour-pot, 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 position the carb-pot there where it belongs. Is there any doubt about the meaning of this strange story when one reflects on this?
Honey Honey how you lure me
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 (as mentioned above in relation to I Shmuel 14:25). The translation of דבש may have a few interpretations, but tell me: Why does the Torah use the verb זבה, most commonly referring to gonorrhea, for honey (Vayikra 20:24)?
But whatever simple carbohydrate is meant by דבש, it leads to death, as when those sinners Datan and Aviram, followers of Korach, 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).
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).
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.”
Next time you are tempted by honey, remember this: After Herod the Wicked murdered his wife, he pickled her in a jar of honey (Bava Batra 3a)! He sure didn’t pack her in aspartame or sucralose!
Just stop already!
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; look it up.
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 high-protein food like meat, naturally.
David Hamelekh likens bread to ashes and bemoans the tears that come of drinking sugar-laden soda pop כי אפר כלחם אכלתיו ושקוי בבכי (Tehilim 102:10). That’s why we bless G-d for “getting rid of bread from the Holy Land,” המוציא לחם מן הארץ. In fact, Shlomo Hamelekh says, you should throw your bread away, right into the sea שלח לחמך על פני המים (Kohelet 11:1).
This is the drink of which it is said קולה כנחש “Cola is like a poisonous snake” (Yirmiyahu 46:22).
The Bar Mitzvah boy, as indication of his new-found responsibility for his iniquities, 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.
King Achav was not always evil. As it is written לא אכל לחם “he would not eat bread” (I Kings 21:4). When he coveted Nabot’s vineyard, he did not seize 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. It was actually Izevel, Jezebel, that prototypical wicked woman, who told him קום אכל לחם “go on, eat some bread” (ibid, v.7) and had the viction killed off.
When the people of Shomron sinned and over-valued flour,the L-rd spoke through Elisha and put them right, announcing that carbs would soon be correctly treated as almost worthless (2 Melachim 7:1). A foolish officer mocked this wisdom. Elisha tried to straighten him out, stating that flour was good for looking at but not for eating הנכה ראה בעיניך ומשם לא תאכל However, the scoffer’s fate was quite rightly, death (ibid. 7: 18-19).
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).
And even muffins, those puffed-up blobs of debauchery, are correctly identified in contemporary Israeli speech as מעאפן maaffin “crummy.” (Interesting: In English, too, crumby equals crummy.)
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! (**)
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 **)!
Let’s not forget the importance of a proper exercise plan, which can dull the harsh blow of 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.”
In a pure Jewish household, there is never bread but only its antithesis 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).
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).
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).
Warning! Christianity took Judaism best ideas: Don’t pay any attention to the rantings of madmen. And feel free to laugh at this, written by an Oto-Ha’ish-freak, a 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.
Multiplying loaves of bread?! What sort of evil necromancer does that?!