Insights and Inspiration
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
August 9th 2012 -Volume 2, Issue 38 –20th of Av 5772
Volume V, Issue 40– August 6th 2009
This E-Mail is written for Foodies. Jewish foodies that is, although that is probably a redundancy. For those not familiar with the term, Wikipedia tells us that Foodies differ from gourmets in that gourmets are epicures of refined taste who may or may not be professionals in the food industry, whereas foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news. Gourmets simply want to eat the best food, whereas foodies want to learn everything about food, both the best and the ordinary, and about the science, industry, and personalities surrounding food. For this reason, foodies are sometimes viewed as obsessively interested in all things culinary. As I said before- Jews.
We are certainly a food oriented culture. Shabbat chulent, Kugel, Chicken soup. Holiday Blintzes, Good Jewish Kosher deli. That’s my type of foodie I guess. When we had moved to the Pacific NorthWest though, my wife has developed into another type of Foodie- Organic, Free Range, Whole Wheat, Hormone, Chemical and Pesticide free and of course environmentally conscious. This has certainly not been one of the most gratifying evolutions of our marriage relationship, particularly not for someone like myself who seems not be able to get enough High Fructose Corn Syrup and Mono-Sodium Glutomate (or now referred to as POISON in our home). But hey I’m a flexible type of guy and at least she stills give me my Shabbos chulent which can me going all week long!
But the truth is, to be a true Foodie as Wiki tells us, you have to know everything there is to know about food. Because Food, as good Foodies know, is about more than just filling up our digestive tracts and putting a good satiated smile on our face. Food can be art. Food can be passion. It has environmental impact, social ramifications and it can even be sinful (see Garden of Eden story where the first sin of mankind was about Food). It seems though that God also seems to be somewhat of a foodie. For the Torah proscribes so many different Mitzvot around food perhaps more than any other area of life. There are of course Kosher Laws, than the intermingling of foods. There are specific holiday foods like Matzah and weekly Kiddush on wine. And there are days of fasting and feasting. It’s almost impossible to be an observant Jew and not be a foodie. It seems Hashem wanted us to take our eating seriously.
This week the Torah portion tells us about our first experience with food as a nation and what why Hashem chose to create our nation with a special relationship with its food.
And He fed you the Manna that you did not know nor did your forefathers know in order to make you know-Ki Lo al Halechem Yichyeh Ha- Adam- that (The) man does not live by bread alone. Ki al Kol Motza Pi Hashem Yichyeh Ha-Adam- rather by all that comes forth from the mouth of God (The) man shall live.
The great founder of the Chasidic movement the Baal Shem Tov shares a fantastic and deep thought about this verse. What he suggests is that there is deep mystical tradition that in every food that we eat there is a hidden spark of holiness that longs to be elevated and connected with our soul. When we eat we are not only meant to nurture our body but our souls as well. He notes that after Adam sinned of Adam in the perfect world of Eden and was banished as a result of eating that which was forbidden for him, the sparks of Adam’s own holiness attached itself to food throughout the world. For forty years in the wilderness Hashem fed us food- the Manna of a purely spiritual nature, to teach us this lesson that our connection with food is meant to be not merely physical but to elevate the spark Ha’Adam- the spark of Adam Ha’Rishon- the first Man in each of us. This happens, Hashem tells us, when we put forth from our mouths the name of Hashem. When we make a blessing and recognize that all that we have has been delicately put on our plate from the Master and Creator of the universe; our loving Father in Heaven. Through that we elevate our souls as well as nurturing our body.
So all you Jewish foodies out there, I hope I have given you some food for thought (I couldn’t resist that one sorry). The next time you go shopping and look at that incredible variety of Kosher food we are so blessed to have. The next time you carefully go through your organic fruit bins in your supermarket selecting the best for your plate. And the next time you check the nutritional values on the back of the box of that nosh you are picking up (while my wife is not looking of course). Take a moment and thing about the holiness of what you will soon put in your mouth. Pause before chowing down and think how much love your Father in Heaven has put into it to give your soul something special to connect with. Make a Bracha. If you don’t know the proper ones give me a buzz, invite me for a mealJ. And enjoy that delicious dish with the knowledge that your soul is loving it too.
Have an perfect Shabbos,
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
Heichal Shlomo- SITE OF THE SIYUM HASHAS THIE EVENING-THIS former home of the chief rabbinate of Israel and central Beit Din of Jerusalem was built in 1958 after thirty years of calls by Jewish leaders dating back to 1923 Rav Avraham Kook who announced the need for one uniting synagogue in Jerusalem. It contains the greatr central Torah library of Israel with 10’s of thousands of works from the holocaust. The synagougue that ws built primarily for the offices of the Rabbinate has beautiful stained glass windows with different mitzvoth on each one of them and the gorgeous ark which was brought from Padua Italy and built in 1728 when the Ramchal composed songs and a work called Chanukat Ha’Aron in honor of the occasion. Once can visit the Wolfson museum of Art in Hechal Shlomo including many other important offices such as The International Young Israel Movement offices!!!