When you sit at the shulchan every day, you have to know that you are serving Hakadosh Baruch Hu. First of all, you have to eat l'shem Shamayim. When you eat you're demonstrating your gratitude to Hashem. M'chalkeil chaim b'chesed, why does Hashem feed the living with chesed? Ba'vur Shmo hagadol, for the sake of His great name, He gives you food for the sake of His great name.
As you eat, you marvel at this nes; food is a special material that nobody in the world is able to manufacture. No company, no chemist, no laboratories, can make food. They can change one food to another, but nobody can make food, it's a nes. It's a material that is able - when you ingest it, it becomes transformed into a thousand different materials, much more than a thousand, and each one goes to a different address in the body to replenish the materials that are missing by being worn out by use.
When you put a piece of bread in your mouth, it's beginning a very long and complicated journey; it's a nes. So as you eat the bread you're saying, m'chalkeil chaim b'chesed, it's a chesed... What's the purpose of the chesed? Ba'vur Shmo hagadol, for the sake that we should recognize His great name. Now that's a mizbeiach. You're sitting at the table and you are working on avodas Hashem, to recognize Hashem's great name.
What's greater than that? You think it's a small thing for a person to be oisek in a'chila l'shem Shamayim? And he's thinking of the great lessons that he learns from food. The nes of food, hamotzi lechem min ha'aretz, how does it come out of the earth? And all the complications of this great achievement. So by eating you can become very great, if you know how to eat properly.
In addition to that, sometimes your table is a mizbeiach of chesed. Sometimes you bring in somebody, an orach, a meshulach from Eretz Yisroel, if he trusts you for kashrus, and he sits down at your table, do you know what you are doing? It's a tremendous gift. Gedola Hachnosas orchim yoser m'hakabolas pnei hashchina (Shabbos 127:1). You took one of my children, and you brought him into your home, and you gave him a meal, it's as great as kabolas pnei Hashchina. So therefore the shulchan is actually a mizbeiach.
The old-time people didn't let their children sit on the table; if a little boy wanted to sit on the table just for a prank, the mother chased him off. "Don't sit on the table, the table is kadosh". And that's the truth; a Jewish table is kadosh. Only kosher food can go on that table, and around the table they sit and they say brachos, sometimes they learn at the table too. A Jewish table is kodesh kodoshim. The trouble is we are so accustomed to having it that we lose sight of the importance of a Jewish table.
The table deserves to be photographed, there should be pictures taken of it and the mementos should remain forever and ever. A table in a Jewish home is this scene where they made the Seder of Pesach, it's the scene where they made seudas Purim, they celebrated Yom Tov around the table, it's an avodas Hashem table. There were guests at the table, orchim; they brought up children at the table; they taught derech eretz at the table. At the table the father inquired of the son how he's learning, he's making an inspection of their behavior in the cheder, he gets the report at the table; very important a Jewish table. So no matter how you will understand it the table is kodesh kodoshim, it's certainly a mizbeiach.
That's why we have salt. When you make hamotzi, you dip the bread in the salt, al kol korboncha takriv melach, for every offering at that table, at that mizbeiach, do it with salt, to show us that it's a mizbeiach and so holy to Hakadosh Baruch Hu no less than a mizbeiach.
Good Shabbos To All
This is transcribed from questions that were posed to Harav Miller by the audience at the Thursday night lectures. To listen to the audio of this Q & A please dial: 201-676-3210