So many wonderful holidays and so many things to eat! Even on Yom Kippur, we think about what to eat before Kol Nidre and then plan for a delicious “Break the Fast.” Judaism is filled with holidays and specific things to eat or days when we don’t eat.
Eating is a Jewish thing although I tell many that I am certainly not a “Gastronomic Jew” (I don’t define my Jewishness by what I eat). However, as a Jew we don’t just eat — we must think about what we are eating (kosher or not) and say a blessing before we eat (being thankful for what we have).
In the many offerings from myjewishlearning.com before Rosh Hashanah, here is a list of food and related meanings from the Talmud:
- After eating leek or cabbage, say “May it be Your will that our enemies be cut off.”
- After eating beets, say “May it be Your will that our adversaries be removed.”
- After eating dates, say ”May it be Your will that our enemies be finished.”
- After eating pomegranate, say “May it be Your will that our merits increase as the seeds of a pomegranate.”
- After eating the head of a sheep or fish, say “May it be Your will that we be as the head and not as the tail.”
The writer then went on to suggest that we make up our own “May it be Your will…” and gave as an example to eat a raisin and celery and ask God for a “raise in salary.” All joking aside, stopping and thinking before we eat has much value both for our physical health and our spiritual health. Saying blessings before eating, makes you stop and think which of the many blessings is appropriate and then recognize how lucky we are, not only to have something to eat, but to have choices. Gratitude is healthy!
Keeping kosher also makes you stop and think even if you think, “My grandmother would be rolling over in her grave if she knew what I was eating.”
As we begin this New Year, let us think before we eat and more importantly, think before we act. We ask for forgiveness before Yom Kippur and if I have written anything that has upset or offended you, please forgive me. And, if I have written anything that has made you stop and think or question or struggle, I hope I can continue in the year to come.