That youth [Rav Safra's son] opened [his explanation] with the blessing after the meal and said: One verse says, "And you shall eat before the L-rd your G‑d" (Deut. 14:23) and another verse says, "And rejoice before the L-rd your G‑d". (Deut. 27:7) These verses were fulfilled when the children of Israel dwelt in the Holy Land and appeared before G‑d [three times a year] in the Temple. How are they fulfilled today? Who can eat before G‑d and rejoice before G‑d?

Certainly it is so. At the beginning, when a person sits down at his table to eat, he makes the blessing for bread, "Hamotzi." What is the reason we say, "He Who brings [hamotzi]forth bread" and not "Who brings [motzi]forth bread?' As it is written: "He creates the heavens" (Isaiah 42:5) but not written: 'He Who creates' "He has made the earth" (Jeremiah 10:12) and is not written 'He Who has made the earth.' What is the reason that here we say 'the Bringer'?

The Hei [of G‑d's Name] is hidden from all the things that come from the upper concealed world [of bina] to show that they are from the hidden and concealed world. [However,] all things that are from the lower world [malchut] that are more revealed are written with a Hei, as it is written: "That [Hei]brings out their host by number", (Isaiah 40:26) "That [Hei]calls for the waters of the sea". (Amos 5:8) They are all from the secret of the Lower World.

If a [divine] Name is written with a [preceding] Hei, such as "the great E-l" for example [then it also hints to bina hidden within]. And here [in the Hamotzi blessing on bread] where Hei is revealed, it is from the secret of the lower world [the bounty flows from bina to malchut in a hidden fashion] because when a person blesses, the Shechinah [malchut, hinted in the letter Hei of HaMotzi], comes before him.

And what it says: "And you shall eat before the L-rd your G‑d", [the obligation] to speak words of Torah [at the meal] is included here. So it should be, because G‑d [i.e. the Shechinah] is standing before him, to fulfill what is written: "This is the table that is before G‑d" (Ezekiel 41:22) and, "And you shall eat there before the L-rd your G‑d" (Deut. 14:26).

Since a person is standing before his Master [at his meal], he must also have mercy on the poor, to give them [to eat] just as He [G‑d] gives him to eat. And he who eats before the Holy King, he should not be [as] a glutton at his table, because gluttony is from the Other Side. This is the secret of [Esau saying to Jacob]: "Please give me to swill" (Gen. 25:30) which is by way of gluttony, as the Other Side requires, as it is written: "But the belly of the wicked shall feel want" (Proverbs 13:25) [for the Other Side has neither blessing nor satiation]. Therefore, it is written: "And you shall eat before the L-rd your G‑d" and not before the Other Side.

One should not be occupied [during the meal] with frivolous things but with matters pertaining to the meal is fine, and he should be occupied with words of Torah, for one gives strength to his Master when words of Torah are spoken at the table.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida include this section? What do they want us to learn?

Here is the secret of why we should learn Torah during the meal. The table stands for all blessing that is received from above, for malchut. The Torah we recite out loud stands for the Giver, Zeir Anpin, that face of G‑d that interacts and talks to us through scripture.

By learning at the table, we combine both, and create an awesome unification. The simple act of bring both together brings the Mashiach, the building of the Temple [our table stands for the Temple during times of exile], and the redemption of the world. And to add a charity box nearby, wow, now we're talking tikun!

What does the above mean to you, and why is it revealed now?

[This section is important for reciting at weekly meals according to the Ya'avetz as well as the Ben Ish Chai.]

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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