The blessing over bread-the staple of life-is the "Hamotzi"-"Who brings forth bread from the earth. " Implied in this blessing is the emerging awareness that "Lechem"-bread-the very sustenance of life -is extracted from the earth. In other words, the spark of God, that which engenders life, is inherent in the physical and material fabric of existence, in the earthiness of life itself.
The dichotomy of heaven and earth as loci of God's presence is artificial and misleading. "The earth is replete with God's glory"-God is everywhere, not only in the farthest reaches of heaven. The entire cosmos is suffused with God's reality.
When we recite the blessing -"Hamotzi"-we extract the godliness that is contained in the earthiness of our experience. The Hebrew word for bringing forth-Hamotzi-is closely related to the Hebrew word for finding, for discovering , "matzoh". As we acknowledge in formal words the hand of God in the provision of food, we rediscover His presence in the depths of our earthly existence.
On Passover, we recite this blessing over Matzah, the "bread of affliction, of impoverishment and servitude." Passover allows us to perceive with our hearts through story telling and tangible tastes of ritual foods, the nearness of the divine in contexts of struggle and hardship. While our outward awareness is blinded to God's presence because of suffering and want, reciting a blessing reminds us deeply of the hiddeness of God that will eventually re-emerge into fuller view.We wash our hands first-Rachtzah- and with complete trust we are able to speak the words of blessing that allow us to recognize and rediscover the elusive reality of God's presence everywhere and anywhere.
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