“man does not live on bread alone” is a puzzling torah verse. “and he afflicted you and let you go hungry, and then fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your forefathers know, so that he would make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but rather by, whatever comes forth from the mouth of the lord does man live.” deuteronomy 8:3.
with the children of israel, after leaving egypt, they complained about food. some would have returned to their house of bondage, egypt, to that they could enjoy the offerings.
does this passage have meaning today?
this passage perhaps has a different meaning in modern times
ms. graciela mochkofsky’s book “the prophet of the andes” documents mr. segundo villanueva’s transformation into a religious leader. he lived in an impoverished community in peru. after his father’s murder, he found a bible among his father’s possessions. mr. villanueva took the bible to his heart. he studied it, started living by its words, and, over time, created an indigeneous jewish community. this community, which had not yet connected with the greater jewish community, was poor. this community, however, was rich with dedication toward bible study and ritual practice.
along mr. villanueva’s journey to his community becoming jews, the book describes an encounter he had when he met with a leader of the established peruvian jewish community. the established community was much different that his own and consisted, in large part, of successful immigrants to the country. these individuals enjoyed a level of success, freedom and wealth within peru. the book discusses that the leader of the established community was hesitant about the thought of incorporating the emerging jewish community into the greater community. the fact that they were indigenous and economically disadvantaged were factors. the leader of the jewish community was arguably fearful of them? what would happen if they embraced mr. villanueva’s community. there was fear of the unknown. discomfort.
with this, we re-visit the passage from deuteronomy. in this instance, the established community had their “bread.” they had comfort, security and wealth. their religion aside, life was good. in contrast, mr. villanueva’s group financially struggled. they were guided by the bible, the words of god, to have better and more fulfilling lives.
deuteronomy’s passage plays to the notion that humanity cannot live solely upon comfort. there there are words and passages in the bible that are “uncomfortable.” there are passages of the torah that take people out of their element. not long after the “bread alone” passage, deuteronomy 10:19, states “you shall love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of egypt.” perhaps, the modern message is that, at times, we must free ourselves from our comfort to embrace the torah’s words concerning justice and compassion.
in sum, mr. villanueva’s interaction with the jewish community leader perhaps offers the concept that “thou shalt, at times, be uncomfortable. ” this discomfort, per the torah, most likely is a call to action.
if you enjoyed this post, please “like”
if you would like to read more posts, click here
if you find this post meaningful, please share
if you would like to receive posts, please “follow”
here is a link to an interview with author ms. graciela mochkofsky