Eating, Satiation and Blessing

         How many times in life do we feel so hungry we can eat a horse? How often do we wolf down a meal without a second thought as to what we are eating. At the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, I learned the importance of mindful eating. We did a 10 minute raisin meditation, where we hold a raising in our hand, feel the texture, savor the smell, roll it in our mouths and chew it extremely slowly. Needless to say I have never eaten a raisin that way again, nor do I plan to. However, it taught an important lesson of not taking any food for granted-recognizing that even a little raisin is a great gift from the Holy One.

         In Parshat Ekev God tells us ואכלת ושבעת וברכת, “you shall eat, be satiated and then bless.”[1] The rabbis debate whether one has to bless if they did were unsatisfied by the food they ate.[2] What I prefer, however, is to examine the importance of this three step process. One cannot scarf down his/her food and then rush up from the table. Rather, one must each in a way that satisfies him/her and when one reaches that point of satiation, s/he must demonstrate gratitude to God for his/her bounty. Like the raisin, we must acknowledge that someone planted the seeds to make the grapevine flowers. Once the grapes were formed, someone picked them from the vine, put them on a big sheet and dried them in the sun, removing all the moisture from them. All this occurs before the raisins are put through an assembly line, packaged and shipped to Publix or Milam’s. By taking a step back to appreciate that which we are consuming (through a bracha as well as savoring the food we eat) we will become satiated with it and it will be food worthy of blessing, as opposed to the sandwich I might force down in the car or in front of my computer screen.

         Through this three step command, the Holy One is teaching us to be grateful for what we are privileged to consume, to take our time eating it and to say blessings thanking God for enabling us to have it. I hope that with this, as well as with so many things we take for granted, we will instead take a moment to fully experience our food, enjoying every bite, so that we will be satisfied and give it the blessing that it deserves.

[1] Deuteronomy 8:10

[2] See Sifrei Devarim 8:10

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