THIS BREAD IS NOT MY BODY: Biblical Manna as a Psychoanalytic Paradigm

Moshe Halevi Spero

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


A novel psychoanalytic interpretation is offered regarding the biblical story of the miraculous manna substance that nourished the Israelites throughout their sojourn in the Wilderness and the early period of entry into the Promised Land. The manna metaphor continues to appeal to the contemporary mind, yet historically oriented approaches are preoccupied with identifying manna concretely. Symbolical approaches portray manna as an oral-breast-food representation, whereas, ironically, psychoanalysis has ignored the story. I examine the detailed midrashic and talmudic lore associated with manna itself and its fuller context to expose a nuanced, accurate representation of the psychological pathway from the urgency of swallowing and feeling full, the ambivalence of digestion, to a more symbolified level of independence from the analyst and the internalization and elimination of the analytical breast. As such, manna is an archaic foundational myth, in W. R. Bion’s sense, for the psychoanalytic interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary Psychoanalysis and Jewish Thought
Subtitle of host publicationAnswering a Question with More Questions
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781000964028
ISBN (Print)9781032210704
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 selection and editorial matter, Libby Henik; individual chapters, the contributors.


Dive into the research topics of 'THIS BREAD IS NOT MY BODY: Biblical Manna as a Psychoanalytic Paradigm'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this