Positive Mitzvah Twenty-Seven

Lechem HaPanim (The Bread of Faces - Showbread)

Requires Beit HaMikdash

Shemot 25:30 On the Shulchan shall you place lechem panim before Me, always.

We are commanded to place the Showbread (Lechem Panim) before Him continually. The Torah prescribes that new bread is to be placed [upon the Table] on every Shabbat, and frankincense along with it, and that the Kohanim are to eat of the bread which was [placed on the Table] on the preceding Shabbat.

The provisions of this Mitzvah are explained in the 11th chapter of Menachot.

Bread being universally regarded as the staff of life, the object of this Mitzvah, according to Nachmanides, was that a special place of importance would be assigned to it in the ritual of the Temple. As G-d's blessings to mankind come normally through the regular channels of nature, the Showbread was placed upon the Table as a definite object upon which His blessings were to be invoked (Shemot 25:24, Commentary)

Two rows of Showbread were placed on the Table in the Temple, and there were six loaves in each row.

Menachot 99b

"Four Kohanim entered, two bearing the two rows [of the Showbread] in their hands and two bearing the two dishes [of frankincense]; and four went in before them, two to take away the two rows [of previous Shabbat's Showbread], and two to take away the two dishes [of frankincense]. Those who brought them in stood at the north side with their faces to the south, and those who took them away stood at the south side with their faces to the north. these withdrew [the old] and the others laid down [the new], and [always] one handbreadth of the one overlay one handbreadth of the other...They went and laid [the old loaves] on the table of gold that was in the Porch. They then burnt the dishes [of frankincense], and the loaves were distributed among the Kohanim."