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Why do we Eat?

Friday, 7 August, 2020 - 11:41 am

Untitled design (3).pngDid you know that in a study done in the US it was found that an average American spends 67 minutes per day eating and drinking beverages as part of their daily meals. When you include snacking time and drinking time while doing other activities that number is almost doubled. This does not include time spent on buying food, planning what to make and preparing food, taking selfies and more which could easily add another hour or two to the amount of hours spent on food consumption.

Either way it is fair to say that as human beings a big chunk of our day is spent nurturing ourselves and making sure we have the right food and nutrition to have energy and be healthy. Obviously as human beings we need to eat and do it right so that we are healthy and feel good, but the question that Judaism asks us to ask is “are we living to eat or do we eat to live”?

In this week’s Torah portion there are several crucial references to how we approach food which tell us a lot about how we ought to view our relationship with food and what it does for us.

In one verse it states (Deuteronomy 8:10) “And you shall eat and be satisfied and you shall bless Hashem, your G‑d, for the good land which He has given you”. This verse contains a very crucial and important message as it clearly establishes the concept of giving thanks to G-d after we eat and taking a moment to appreciate where all the blessings that we just enjoyed come from. In later years, the sages added additional short blessings which are said even before we eat, as they wanted to enhance this concept.

The point of these pre and post blessings is to help make eating be more than just something that fulfills a human need, rather one that can help uplift a person and help him or her realize the bigger picture in life. The piece of bread or cucumber no longer is just a medium to survive or something that we have for pleasure, but instead it becomes something that helps us have mindfulness for who we are and what our role in creation should be.

Later on, Kabbalah and Chassidic teachings explained another verse in the portion which states “that not by bread alone does man live, rather by the word of G-d does man live”. They explained that this is not simply telling us that there are two factors in life, bread (food) and G-d (spiritual pursuits) and one lives by spiritual pursuits. Rather, it is telling us that it is the spark of G-dliness and spirituality that is inherently contained within this eating experience itself, that a man can live from.

Meaning the food is far more than just about fine cuisine and pleasure, and instead every experience of eating can be one that uplifts man and the food which we eat through our utilizing the experience in the right way to help us move closer to our goals and aspirations. Eating food may be just sixty seven minutes of our day, but when the eating experience becomes a part of our overall underlying purpose and goal, by reminding us of thanksgiving, gratitude, and recognition of G-d’s blessings, then its impact will not just be a physical impact that gives us physical energy, instead we will also have spiritual nutrition too.

Eat, be satisfied and keep blessing G-d for his blessings.

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