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Finding faith in your bread

We often associate a committed religious life with greater spirituality and devotion to a higher power. Within the religious community, individuals who devoutly pray and study ancient texts are typically considered to have a heightened sense of the divine, as they perceive G-dliness in everything they do. A rabbi, for example, is often viewed as the most religious person in the community due to their deep involvement in religious practices.

However, this assumption may not always hold true. In fact, one could argue that individuals who lead regular lives, have regular jobs, and do not outwardly display their religion have more opportunities to experience the presence of G-d. When spirituality permeates every aspect of one’s existence, it is easy to lose sight of its true essence and how to fully connect with G-d. On the other hand, those who are not as attuned to religion often find G-dliness in the ordinary aspects of life.

In Talmudic terms, this concept is referred to as “pat besalo,” which literally means “one has bread in his basket.” When someone's needs are consistently met, they may have a diminished appreciation for what they have, whereas someone who doesn’t always have their every need fulfilled will likely feel more gratitude. In spiritual terms, this difference also means that individuals whose lives revolve solely around religion may not always be as aware of the presence of G-d as those who encounter G-dliness beyond religious settings.

Although all Jews are obligated to incorporate G-d into their lives and strengthen their connection with Him, the methods employed to achieve this goal will vary from person to person based on their individual spiritual needs. Someone who is already spiritually attuned will require less effort to find G-d in their lives, whereas someone who does not consistently contemplate G-d may need a little more encouragement.

Hence, based on the argument above, individuals who outwardly display greater religious devotion may actually have fewer encounters with G-d. Consequently, they are the ones who require more reminders and encouragement to bring G-d into their lives.

An example illustrating this concept can be found in the mitzvah of "challah," which requires setting aside a small piece of dough before baking bread and bringing it to the Temple. Unlike other mitzvahs, particularly those related to offerings, the Torah does not specify the exact quantity of dough required to fulfill this commandment. Halachic codifiers provide clarification based on the person baking: if it is done at home, one must separate 1/24 of the batter, whereas if it is done by a professional baker, only 1/48 of the dough needs to be set aside for G-d.

The reason for this discrepancy is that someone who bakes for a living, engaging in commerce, is subject to economic factors, market fluctuations, and raw material costs. When they achieve success, they recognize the presence of G-d in their accomplishments, acknowledging that they are able to thrive despite external uncertainties. Conversely, an individual who prepares food at home in smaller quantities may not perceive the presence of G-d at every step of the process. While they understand that their sustenance comes from above, this awareness is not as prominent as it is for someone who bakes professionally.

Therefore, the home baker is required to make a larger donation to enhance their awareness of the divine in their everyday lives. In contrast, the obligation of the professional baker, who already recognizes and experiences G-d’s presence throughout their work, is smaller, as they are already well on their way to spiritual connection.

Similarly, outwardly devout individuals may actually need more reminders and encouragement to incorporate G-d into their lives, while those who go about their daily routines with a keen awareness of G-d’s presence are, in fact, spiritually superior.

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