Bread of Shame
“One who eats from his friend’s food is ashamed to look at him” (JT Orlah 1:5, 61b).
“Two people eat from the same bowl, but each one tastes according to his deeds” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan §37).
“Son of Azzai said: By your name you will be called, to your place you will be restored and from what belongs to you will you be given. No man can touch what is prepared for his fellow and ‘One kingdom does not interfere with the other even to the extent of one hair’s breadth’ (BT Berakhot 48b)” (BT Yoma 38a–b).
“Before souls come to the world, they resemble one who eats the bread of the King without serving Him. And this is why the sages say that it is good for man to have been created [see BT Eruvin 13b]…. Souls feel ashamed to eat the bread of the King without serving Him, and therefore they yearn to come to the world… so as to leave that shame; they seek to come to this world, to engage in Torah and mitsvot, to till it and watch it (Genesis 2:15) so that they may eat bread without shame” (Rabbi Yosef Karo, Maggid Meisharim, Bereshit, cf. Zohar 2:87a, Sava de-Mishpatim: “The blessed Holy One says, ‘From the day you were created, for this were you created: to be in that world.’ Once the soul sees this she descends unwillingly and enters there”).
“Rabbi Yehudah opened, ‘Is it not to share your bread with the hungry? (Isaiah 58:7). Come and see: Happy is one’s portion when he encounters a poor person! For a poor person is a gift that the blessed Holy One has sent to him. Happy is the share of one who receives that gift cheerfully!…’ Is it not to share your bread with the hungry? What is פָרֹס (paros), to share? לְמִפְרַס (Le-miphras), to spread, a tablecloth with bread and food to eat. Alternatively, Is it not פָרֹס (paros), to share?—as is said: פְּרֵס פְּרִיסַת (Peres perisat), פְּרֵס (peres)—has been divided (Daniel 5:28), for one should לְמִפְרַס פְּרִיסִין (le-miphras perisin), break pieces, of bread before him so that he will not feel ashamed, and one should break it before him generously” (Zohar 2:198a).
“I have the following tradition from my grandfather’s family: At all times shall one [rather] hire himself out to עֲבוֹדָה זַרָה (avodah zarah), idol-worship [lit., foreign worship], than be in need [of the help] of [his fellow] creatures. He thought that עֲבוֹדָה זַרָה (avodah zarah), [meant] actual [idol worship], but it is not so, [the meaning being,] ‘work which is foreign to him;’ as Rav said to Rabbi Kahana: Flay a carcass in the street and earn a wage, and say not, ‘I am a great man and the work is degrading to me’” (BT Bava Batra 110a).
“Tanna debe Eliyyahu [taught]: Though Rabbi Akiva said, ‘Treat your Sabbath like a weekday rather than be dependent on men,’ yet one must prepare something small at home [as a gesture in honor of the Sabbath]. What is it? Rav Papa said: Fried fish [thus even the poorest must make an effort to honour the Sabbath]. As we learned, Rabbi Yehudah son of Teima said: ‘Be as bold as a leopard, swift as an eagle, fleet as a gazelle, and as mighty as a lion, to do the will of your Father in Heaven’ (M Avot 5:24)” (BT Pesaḥim 112a).
“Please, LORD our God, do not make us dependent on the gifts or loans of other people, but only on Your full, open, holy and generous hand so that we may suffer neither shame nor humiliation for ever and all time” (Birkat ha-Mazon).
“Our Rabbis taught: It once happened that a man’s wife died and left behind a nursing child, and the man could not afford to pay a wet-nurse. A miracle happened to him and his breasts opened like a woman’s breasts and he nursed his son. Rabbi Yosef said, ‘Come and see how great was this man, that such a miracle was performed on his account!’ Abbaye said to him, ‘Just the opposite: how terrible was this man, that his body was changed!’ Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Come and see how difficult it is to attain food for a person—so much so that his body was changed!’ Rabbi Naḥman said: Know that miracles do occur, but food is not simply created” (BT Shabbat 53b).
“A person should not embolden himself to say: ‘The blessed Holy One will save me,’ or ‘He will do this for me.’ Rather, he should place his strength in the blessed Holy One, to help him fulfill the commandments of Torah and walk in the way of truth, for as soon as one comes to purify himself, he is certainly assisted [cf. BT Shabbat 104a]. So should one fortify himself in the blessed Holy One—in order that He may help him—holding fast to Him, not placing his strength in another. So, whose strength is in You (Psalms 84:5)” (Zohar 1:142a).
Happy all who fear YHWH, who walk in His ways. When you eat of the toil of your hands, happy are you, and it is good for you (Psalms 128:2).
“One who supports himself from his own labor is greater than one who fears Heaven” (BT Berakhot 8a).
“’If a man deposits produce with his neighbor, even if it is suffering loss, he must not touch it. Rabbi Shim’on son of Gamaliel said: He must sell it by order of the court, because it is like returning lost property to its owner’ (Mishnah)—what is the reason? Rabbi Kahana said: A man prefers a measure of his own to nine of his neighbor’s” (BT Bava Metsi’a 38a).
“Rabbi Natan son of Abba further said in the name of Rav: He who is dependent on another’s table, the world is dark to him, for it is said: He wanders for bread—where is it? He knows that the dark day awaits him (Job 15:23). Rabbi Ḥisda says: Also, his life is no life” (BT Beitsah 32b).