Bread and Salt

And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.

Leviticus 2:13 (KJV)

Meat, Salt – So God commands that all “meat” offerings are to be brought with salt. The religious community I belong to presents salt with bread for every public prayer. But this says, “meat”… or does it?

The word meat is the Hebrew word minchah which is actually defined in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament as “a gift of grain.” It could be in the form of “grain, dry roasted grains, ground flour, or made into loaves or cakes and baked in an oven.” So it’s an offering of bread similar to what my religious community does. My community tends to associate this bread and salt with purely Russian roots, but it is obviously ingrained (no pun intended) in Biblical offering rituals.

Bread is always brought with salt as an offering. This is a commandment of God. Some might argue that this is purely Russian, but the Jews have been practicing this since Mt. Sinai. In fact once they could no longer bring this bread and salt to the Temple after the destruction in 70AD, they began to do this in their own way.

One present-day custom of sprinkling a little salt on our bread before reciting the blessing over it stems from the rabbinic concept that equates our homes with the holy Temple, our table with the altar, and our food with the offerings that were brought in the Temple.

Abraham Chill, The Mitzvot, p 146

Salting the bread for the blessing is purely a Rabbinic practice. While in Russia, bread and salt was often a way of inviting or welcoming guests, the practice of using bread and salt during the blessing is Jewish. Regardless, bread and salt have a very deeply rooted history in ancient times.

Many that I’ve inquired also consider the church building symbolic of the Temple, the table in church symbolic for the altar, and the food symbolic for the offerings. These relationships didn’t just come from nowhere. They came directly from Jewish traditions. And seeing as we’re grafted into Israel, this is bound to be the case.

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