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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash


Parshat Vayikra speaks about the different types of sacrifices that Hebrews are to make.

I have to admit that the idea that sacrifice somehow brings us closer to God is really difficult for me to fathom, so instead of writing about sacrifice, I will write around the theme of sacrifice and about how ancient sacrifice has evolved to our practice today.

This poem takes the idea of ancient sacrifice to our dining rooms. Salt, that modest substance that we often overlook, played an important role in sacrifice in ancient times and still retains a place of importance on our Shabbat tables. We so often take our actions for granted . Even sprinkling salt on our challah can bring us directly back to the sacrifices of Parshat Vayikra.

For those of you who wish to learn more, at the bottom of this post I have listed a few articles on the concept of The Covenant of Salt.

In addition, I've included a poem I wrote a few years ago about a dining room table. It is one of my favorites and I hope you will go back and check it out.

An early Shabbat Shalom to you. I hope you will share your traditions of challah and salt in the comments section below.




She picks up


blue ceramic

salt shaker.

Its small gold letters remind her

of the words she is commanded to say,

but memorized so long ago.

She sits.

The guests around the table



A silver stillness

rests over the table,

which is


before the release of




that will soon


like the songs of

the Levites

above the twin loaves

whose golden braids

rest gently

on the

silver challah plate

while the table beneath

is a mizbeach draped in white.


a modern day priestess,

thinks little

of her actions

as she lifts

her hand,


the salt shaker

high above the

golden loaves.

There is no lowing calf,

no baaing sheep.

No fragrant smoke,

no orange flame

that licks at her hand

as it rises


the twin breads.

Her creative force.

Her Sabbath masterpieces.

She blesses.

As the words

fall from her mouth

and rise heavenward


sprinkles forth from the

blue shaker.

It rains down gently like


once rained down from heaven.

It rains down like quails from the sky

to satisfy an unending hunger.

The modern Priestess

pours salt down on her

yeasty sacrifice.

Its golden braids


accept the

tiny crystals.


works its way into its tiny caves and crevasses.

It settles in.

The golden braids are

ripped and torn

and passed with great solemnity

to the guests,

who crave its

soft Sabbath sweetness.

Their tongues

feel the sensation

of sweetness

and saltiness


The oohs and ahs have begun.

They rise around the table like


smoke rings.

The people are happy now.


And none,

not even

the modern day priestess,


the salt covering the table,

like manna on the desert floor.

The ceremony is over.

So salty,

yet so sweet.

The guests at the table


begin their meal.

You shall season your every offering of meal with salt; you shall not omit from your meal offering the salt of your covenant with God; with all your offerings you must offer salt.

Leviticus 2:13

וְכל־קרְבַּ֣ן מִנְחָתְךָ֮ בַּמֶּ֣לַח תִּמְלָח֒ וְלֹ֣א תַשְׁבִּ֗ית מֶ֚לַח בְּרִ֣ית אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ מֵעַ֖ל מִנְחָתֶ֑ךָ עַ֥ל כּל־קרְבָּנְךָ֖ תַּקְרִ֥יב מֶֽלַח׃


An article on the Covenant of Salt by Rabbi Tim Daniel Bernard from the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Another article on the Covenant of Salt by Alex Israel:

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