Bread of Shame
“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).
“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).
“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, as 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).
“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 [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).
“One who supports himself from his own labor is greater than one who fears Heaven” (BT Berakhot 8a).
“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 [in honor of Sabbath]. What is that [which even the poorest must prepare]? Rav Papa said: Fried fish. 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).
“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).
“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).
“The Rabbis taught: It happened once that a man’s wife died and she left behind a child to nurse, and he did not have the wages [to pay] a wet-nurse. A miracle was performed for him and his breasts opened like a woman’s breasts and he nursed his child. Rav Yosef said, ‘Come and see how great a man this is that such a miracle was performed for him!’ Abbaye said to him, ‘On the other hand, how deficient a man this is that סִדְרֵי בְרֵאשִׁית (sidrei ve-reshit), the laws of nature, were changed for him! [if he was worthy he might have come into money, therefore, a miracle was really performed for the child].’ Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Come and see how difficult [providing] a person’s food [is]: the laws of nature were changed for him!’ Rabbi Naḥman said: Know that miracles are evoked, but food is not created [from nothing; on blessing not appearing in an empty place, see BT Sanhedrin 92a, in the name of Rabbi El’azar; Naḥmaindes on Exodus 25:24; Zohar 1:88a–b, 240a, 250a; 2:63b, 67a, 87b–88a, 154b–155a, 157b; 3:34a]” (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).