- Lechem HaPanim Part 1

Lechem HaPanim Part 1

Home Education Beis Hamikdosh

Lechem HaPanim Part 1

Scroll down for the answers

by Esther Livingstone

The Lechem HaPanim / לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים

 ( HTU=Hilchos Temidim Umusafim)          (Part 1)                                

It is a mitzvas asei to arrange the Lechem HaPanim every Shabbos. 

Concerning this, the Torah says: “You shall take fine flour and bake it into 12 loaves; each loaf shall be 2 esronim.  You shall place them in 2 rows, 6 on each row, upon the pure Table before Hashem.  You shall put pure frankincense on each row and it shall be a remembrance for the bread, a fire-offering for Hashem.  Each and every Sabbath he shall arrange them before Hashem continually, from the Children of Israel as an eternal covenant. “(Vayikra 24:5-8)


  1. On which day of the week were the Lechem HaPanim/showbread made?

  2. How much wheat was used to make them?

  3. After the wheat was ground, how many sieves was the flour sifted through?

  4. How much fine flour was extracted from the process?

  5. Was one large dough made, or was separate dough made for each loaf?

  6. How many loaves of bread were made; and what shape were they in?

  7. Why were they made in this shape?

  1. How did the dough maintain this special shape?


  1. What was the length, width and height of each loaf?

  2.   Where was the dough formed; where were the loaves baked; and how many were baked at one time?

  3.   Where were the Lechem Hapanim put after they were baked, until they would be arranged on the shulchan?

  4.  What were the measurements of the (golden) shulchan in the Heichal?

  5.  On which day of the week were the Lechem HaPanim arranged on the shulchan?

  6. What do we learn from the word “continuously”- ונתת על השׁלחן לחם פּנים לפני תּמיד (Shemos 25:30)?



  1.  It was made on Friday, before the Shabbos came in.  (HTU 5:10)

  2. Twenty four sa’eh of wheat –that was fit to be made into flour for meal offerings/menachos-was used and was ground up. (HTU 5:6)

One sa’eh is: Rambam-7.2 L; Rav A.C. Naeh-8.3 L; Chazon Ish 14.3 L .

  1. The flour was sifted through 11 sieves!  This was the optimum manner; but if 24 sa’eh of flour was not used, or it wasn’t sifted through 11 sieves, but enough fine flour was produced, the loaves were acceptable. (HTU 5:6) 

  2. Twenty four esronim of fine flour was produced. (HTU 5:6)

One issaron is: Rambam-2.16 L;  Rav A.C. Naeh- 2.49 L; Chazon Ish- 4.3 L.

  1. A separate dough was made for each loaf. (HTU 5:6-8)  This because the Torah  says “...each loaf will be 2 esronim” (Vayikra 24:5), implying that each loaf should be treated separately. (HTU-5:7 ; Menachos 94a)

  2. Twelve loaves were formed, and they were made in a rectangular shape- and the sides were straight rather than rounded. (HTU 5:9)

  3.  Because the Torah says “ לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים /bread of faces”- meaning that each loaf should have many faces/surfaces, looking in both directions towards the sides of the Heichal. (Shmos 25:29-30-see Rashi)   (HTU 5:9)

  1. The dough was formed and baked in 2 separate golden molds of this shape.  After baking, the Lechem HaPanim was put in yet a third golden mold so that its form would not be impaired. (Shemos 25:29). (HTU 5:8)   Rashi says that the loaves were baked in iron molds. (Shemos 25:29).

  2. Each loaf was 10 tefachim in length; 5 tefachim in width; and 7 finger-breadths in height. (HTU 5:9).  A tefach is 8 cm/3.15”, thus each loaf was 80 cm/ 31.5” long and 40 cm/ 15.75” wide.

  3.  The dough was formed outside of the azara/Temple courtyard, but the bread was baked inside the azara; and they were baked 2 at a time. (HTU 5:7)

  4.  They were put on a marble table which was in the  אוּלָם/Entrance Hall, by  the entrance to the Heichal. (Hil Beis Habechira 3:16) (The Talmud Yerushalmi says that this table was not made of silver because the loaves were put on it while still hot, and their heat would have raised the temperature of the silver, which could then cause mould to grow on them. (Shekalim 6:3))

  5.  The shulchan measured 6 tefachim x 12 tefachim  - 48 cm x 96 cm,

 19.2 x 38.4 inches.

  1.  The loaves were arranged on Shabbos afternoon. (Vayikra 24:8)

  2.  We learn from this word that the shulchan should not be bare of the loaves for even one moment. Thus, as we will learn, there was a special procedure for replacing the Lechem HaPanim on the shulchan.

** Sefer Hachinuch : Bread is an essential food for man’s existence. As such, man must demonstrate his awareness that it is a gift from Hashem.  Thus, we were commanded to place 12 loaves of showbread on the Shulchan, symbolizing the hope that the tables in our homes too would be laden with bread at all times!

** The 12 loaves corresponded to the 12 Tribes of Bnei Yisroel. (Pri Tzadik-Emor 11)


Sefer Ha’Avodah- Rambam- With commentary by Rav Eliyahu Touger- Pub-Moznaim -2007

The Mitzvot-By Rabbi Abraham Chill - Keter Pub. House-1974


To receive regular updates from please click here to join the WhatsApp update group

or email

If you are aware of any information which would be useful to post on please email