The Altar at the Table

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught…

“Through proper eating, foolishness is brought to heel, and the mind is uplifted.
(Likutei Moharan I:17)


What does this mean to me?
The Talmud teaches that our tables now substitute for the altar that used to stand in the holy Temple. Obviously, this is not meant to teach us that we can still bring sacrifices, but that the spiritual work that was once accomplished on the altar can now be accomplished, in a smaller and more personal way, over our dinner plates. On the altar, the animal nature was consumed and transformed; the Temple was a place of both atonement and a focal point for the contemplation of G-dliness. Part of the work is subduing the negative; once that is accomplished, we are free to uplift our minds and grasp the positive.


A prayer:


Dear G-d, help me break
My desire to eat too much.
Instead, let me eat and drink just enough
To be strong and fulfill Your will.

May I be worthy of sharing my food with guests,
Particularly those who are in need.
Protect me always from forbidden foods
Since they bring impurity to my soul.

Help me fulfill, dear G-d, the mitzvah
Of washing my hands for meals,
Which purifies my hands
And draws down Your holiness upon me.

May I please say the blessings before and after eating
With concentration and devotion.
Grant me the ability
To eat in holiness,
As this calms my mind
And allows me to be in charge of what I do.

Please G-d, when I eat,
Let me have You in my thoughts.
And then, through eating,
I can reach true understanding

(Between me and You, p. 40-42)

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Your Feedback

Such a perfect prayer. There is symmetry, balance, emunah.
thank you,

Wow! I think someone has been listening in on my life! …I just want to express how much this has helped me. I intend to print out the prayer and put it with my daily meditation. Thank you.

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Author: Yehudis Golshevsky

Mrs. Yehudis Golshevsky is a graduate of Yavne Teacher’s Seminary in Cleveland and SUNY Buffalo. She is a Breslov Chassidiste who lives with her very patient and forgiving family in Jerusalem and has taught Breslov Chassidus (and many other subjects) and worked in Torah publishing for nearly twenty years. Recent projects include the new Holocaust history textbook, “Witness to History;” Erez Moshe Doron’s commentary on The Exchanged Children; content and curricula for Project Derech of Toronto; translations of Rabbi Berland’s lessons and prayers for; editing of the stories for Daf Digest and Mishnah Berurah Digest; and editing of the weekly translations of Rav Itche Meir Morgenstern’s shiurim for Toras Chochom. In her spare time, she does battle with foreign bureaucracy and general pin-headedness in Ukraine so that she can have the privilege of bringing other women to Uman and other kivrei tzaddikim. She also likes to joke around—just ask her students.

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