A Lechem HaPanim Purim Story


Maud, the secretary of the Chief Rabbi of the Beit HaMikdash knocks furiously on her employer's door.

"Rabbi, sorry to disturb you but it's urgent! We just received this Aleph-mail over the RuachHakodeshNet from our chief spy in Rome. It seems that Titus has really got his tights in a knot this time and he is headed our way with more than a million centurions".

"Oy vey, cancel all my appointments for today and order a Uber-donkey. I need to pay an urgent call on what's their face … I keep forgetting their name … Grima, Gremlin, Groomer … You know who I mean, those guys who make the Lechem HaPanim?"

"You mean Garmu!"

"Yes, that's what I said … the Garmus. Call them by messenger pigeon to say that I am on my way!"

 One hour later in the Lishkat Osei Lechem Hapanim …

"Kevod HaRav, what an honor. To what do we owe the pleasure? Was there something wrong with last week's batch? A little too overdone perhaps? Not enough poppy seeds?"

"No, nothing like that. I want you to pull out the Lechem HaPanim recipe from the computer, the encrypted, secret one and hand it over. I am on a mission from G-d!"

"Is Kevodo referring to THE secret encrypted recipe, the one encoded in "https (Halachic Teshuva Top Priority Shita) protocol? The one that is classified FOEO (for our eyes only)?"

"Yep, that's the one. I need it pronto!"

"But Kevodo, you know that we are forbidden to disclose it to anyone who doesn't have clearance and, we are sorry … but you do not have clearance!"

"Clearance Shmearance, I am the Chief Rabbi of the Beit HaMikdash and I don't have all day! Do you know who is headed our way? Titus, yes TITUS, the one with tinnitus and he is only coming with a million centurions!!!!!!"

"Im kol hakavod to Titus, you may be on a mission from G-d, but we have explicit orders from Moshe Rabbeinu himself not to disclose the secret recipe to anyone!"

The Chief Rabbi's face starts to turn a darker shade of purple.

"Look, you either hand it over this minute, at the very worst … Aleph-mail it to me by attachment by midday, or you are all FIRED!"

"We are truly sorry you feel that way Rabbi (thinking to themselves: It seems it is not only Titus who has his tights in a knot today), but unfortunately we cannot oblige". 

"Right, pack your stuff and accompany security to the door. As of now you are all on early pension … without severance pay!"

The Chief Rabbi thinks to himself "What am I going to do now?" Suddenly he has a brainwave "I know!" He sends a carrier pigeon to his secretary with the message "Contact Ahmed el Salim bakery in Alexandria Tell them to charter the fastest Arabian stallions and hightail it to Jerusalem by week's end ".

Three days later …

"How you doing Ahmed? The reason I summoned you so urgently, is because you guys make the best chocolate eclairs I have ever eaten and we have a situation here … We need you to replace the Grumblers and start reverse engineering the Lechem HaPanim. Failing that, we know you are expert hackers and if anyone can crack the Grummies 'https' password, it's you!"

The following morning, Ahmed et al. rolls up to Lishkat Osei Lechem HaPanim bright and early with all their paraphernalia and set about trying to reverse engineer the famous Showbread.

Later that evening … the Chief Rabbi checks in to gauge their progress.

"Here you go el-Rabi – one perfect loaf of Lechem HaPanim!" Ahmed gushes.

"Lechem Al HaPanim you mean! Look at that deep crack on the left flank. And what is that mould I see forming underneath?"

"OK fellahs. Back to the drawing board", sighs a despondent Ahmed.

After a week, with no progress on the baking front and total failure in cracking the Garmus' https password, the Chief Rabbi is left with no choice.

"Listen guys, it was a good try, but I think you should stick to eclairs. BTW leave me a box before you go. Here are 1000 dinars for your trouble!"

Munching a chocolate éclair …

"Maud, cancel all my appointments for today and order another Uber-donkey. I am headed to Downtown Old-City".

The Chief Rabbi knocks on the Garmu family's door, proffering a box of chocolate eclairs (minus one).

"Kevod HaRav, what an honor. To what do we owe the pleasure? BTW, you have a small chocolate smear on your left cheek".

"Look guys, perhaps I was a little hasty. Please accept this small gift as a token of our appreciation. As it turns out, nobody can bake the Lechem HaPanim as well as you do, so I wanted to know your terms to return to work!"

The Garmu's mull it over for a few minutes …

"OK Kevodo, we agree to return to work, but on two conditions. 1. You double our salary and 2. You tell us where we can get more of these chocolate eclairs".

"No problem", the Chief Rabbi sighs in relief. "But promise me one thing. If you will not divulge the secret, at least print it out and seal it in a time capsule, you know, like in the Nicholas Cage movie, and bury it at these coordinates …"

Two weeks later, as expected, Titus trundles into Jerusalem and makes a beeline for the Heichal. As he enters, the fragrant aroma of freshly baked bread hits him in the face.

"Bread? Who eats bread these days? I was expecting at least chocolate eclairs, like those in the Pompeii Pumpernickel Poulangerie. Oh well guys – ransack the place!"  

Meanwhile, the Garmus are just filling in the hole over the time capsule that they buried at coordinates 32.1716° N, 35.0975° E as instructed by the chocolate-éclair-loving Chief Rabbi.

Fast forward 1954 years, Tu Bishvat.

An ex-South African baker, together with his kids, are digging a hole in the backyard to plant a mango tree. Suddenly the shovel strikes something hard, with a metallic sound …

And that is how it really happened.


Purim Sameach

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