Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.
As bread, long the “staff of life” but not always so convenient and abundantly available, became a more essential part of the European and American diet, the sandwich became a quick, easy part of a meal – often the entire meal itself, or sometimes nothing more than a snack.
While usually associated with European and American culture, the sandwich soon became a worldwide phenomenon, taking on many shapes and sizes. Almost every culture embraced its own version of the sandwich, using its own type of bread and filling, usually ingredients common within that culture’s customs and traditions.
For example, in Mexico and Central America where bread takes the soft, flat and pliant form of the tortilla, the sandwich is called the burrito – with the tortilla grilled or steamed and wrapped around fillings such as beans, rice, and meat.
In Southeast Asia, flatbreads called roti or chapati accompany most meals. Though not normally utilized in preparing what we might think of as a sandwich, diners often make use of chapati to get every last bite of food by wrapping them around each morsel of the dish. If that is not a sandwich, what is?
Also, a bánh mì is a Vietnamese sandwich made with a Vietnamese baguette and native Vietnamese ingredients like coriander, hot peppers, fish sauce, pickled carrots, meats, and tofu. Falafel, a fried ball or patty made out of chickpeas and spiced fava beans, is often served sandwiched in the “pouch” of pita bread and has become a principal food in the Middle East.
The universality of sandwiches and their significance to regional cultures – and world culture – cannot be overstated. McDonald’s, following its introduction in 1940, quickly became the most successful restaurant chain in history – all thanks to its signature sandwich, the Big Mac.
Yes, sandwiches are universal and universally enjoyed. But they are not often more than the sum of their parts. The Torah teaches that man does not live by bread alone. It is with the wisdom of this insight that we return to the significance and importance of that first “sandwich” – Hillel’s.
Perhaps not as well known or universally enjoyed as the Big Mac, with its “billions and billions” served, the Hillel sandwich is much more than its parts; is much more than mere taste and calories; and carries with it much more than the mere object of feeding the belly. The Hillel sandwich must also feed the soul.
As with the entire Passover Seder and meal – which is not designed for us solely to gather with family and enjoy one another’s company, have a satisfying meal and engage in conversation – the point of the Hillel sandwich is not simply to eat but to think and to feel as well. It is not to deny the pleasures of eating. Judaism does not deny or turn away from physical enjoyment. However, to reduce any action to mere physical satisfaction is to drain it of meaning and to diminish our understanding of God’s role in our lives and in the world.
To revel in the luxuries we have accumulated is our obligation, but it would be pointless and inherently disrespectful if that is all we did. So, when we celebrate the blessings of our freedom, it would be disrespectful if we did not also make sure to honor our ancestors’ hardships in Egypt. Noting how the Jewish people won their independence from slavery is as important as – if not more important than – taking pleasure in that independence.
This complexity, this intricate idea of honoring the past and living in the present, of embracing two divergent feelings to create a single whole, is realized in the simplicity of the Hillel sandwich.
You do not need meats, cheeses, vegetables, and sauces piled a mile high. No, since the Pesach meat cannot be eaten, only maror is necessary to stand for the bitterness of enslavement and only matzah to both recall the austerity of slavery and also to symbolize God’s miracles.
The Jews did not have time to allow their bread to leaven because God decreed that the time to be saved was immediate. With the minimal combination of maror and matzah, you are reminded that God is always with the Jewish people. Full faith in God – that He is watching in prosperous times and in miserable times as well – is necessary. He certainly challenges you, but He will always be there to strengthen you and to help you overcome those challenges.
About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.
The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.
Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.
Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.
Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”
Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?
Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.
The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.
Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!
Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.
A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.
Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent
Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.
While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.
Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.
What defines kana’ut these days? Throwing rocks at passing cars on Shabbos? Burning an Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?
One who may leave his wife an agunah is not included in the general rule that we may not imprison on Shabbos.
“Fulfill my requests for good, grant my request, be mindful of us for deliverance and compassion…remember us for a good, long life…give us bread to eat, clothes to wear…”
Too often, as parents and teachers, we think it means talking at our children, delivering to them good and worthy content that they should simply hear and assimilate into their minds and hearts.
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