You Are What You Eat

Each year as we re-read the laws of kashrut [Leviticus 11], the arguments for and against keeping kosher are trotted out; as well, the misconceptions of it being about ancient health practices and therefore outdated are raised.  Then, there are also the discussions about whether to keep kosher at only at home, or also when eating out; the sloshing through individual degrees of kashrut and the all –too-often unfortunate ensuing criticism or rejection of one person’s practice over another being insufficient for someone else’s comfort.

Clearly, the Torah understood the importance of eating, and here of ritualized consumption.  The significance of food and of eating in Judaism is woven throughout our days and yearly cycle.  Each holiday has its special foods; we have a variety of blessings to offer before we eat, depending on what we are eating.  Truly, there is so much more packed into this list in Torah of animals which are ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’.

By keeping our focus only on the laws of kashrut, do we miss the spirit of kashrut?  For me, it becomes about eating mindfully.  Whether we understand why we eat one animal and not another, or whether we give gratitude and pause before we eat, I think these words of Torah are about doing whatever we can do to change our interaction with food, its preparation, its source, in such a way that consumption becomes holy.

In Mary Zamore’s The Sacred Table, she writes: “Kashrut is a way of integrating values such as ethics, community, and spirituality into our own personal dietary practice.” At its core, the laws of kashrut are motivated by recognition of the holiness of every living creature.  Taking its literal meaning to heart, that what we eat is ‘fit’ for our consumption, we have the opportunity to incorporate many Jewish values into our food purchasing, preparation and eating in order to bring the core value of kedusha  – holiness – into our lives through this quintessential part of our lives.

What will you do to change your eating, involve gratitude and attentiveness? Perhaps just slow down and really taste your food.  Perhaps purchase more organic, or support locally grown produce, sustainably-caught fish; maybe you will consider the environmental impact or the labor that went into growing, harvesting, preparing, or producing and make decisions of what you will and will not eat based on Jewish values of how we treat our workers, the land and its creatures.  In my family it is so meaningful to eat what we grow ourselves – the experience of going out into our garden and gathering much of the ingredients with which to prepare dinner fills me with immense gratitude for what we bring to our table as well as appreciation for all that we rely upon from others.  While some people eat to live, and others live to eat, I believe that Torah is urging us to consider how we feed and nurture our souls as well as our bodies.   As the saying goes, you are what you eat.

[Sh’mini 2014]

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jlertzman@fultonsts.com
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 23:02:58

    John Lertzman Fulton Street Software FultonStreetSoftware.com Off 212-233-0702 Cell 818-540-5733 Sent from mobile device.

    M’kor Nefesh – A Source for Soulfulness wrote:

    cantorcaro posted: “Each year as we re-read the laws of kashrut [Leviticus 11], the arguments for and against keeping kosher are trotted out; as well, the misconceptions of it being about ancient health practices and therefore outdated are raised. Then, there are also the d” Respond to this post by replying above this line

    New post on M’kor Nefesh – A Source for Soulfulness [https://s-ssl.wordpress.com/i/emails/blavatar-default.png] [http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/0188b75411513f0fb8487762d50e3966?s=50&d=identicon&r=G] You Are What You Eat by cantorcaro

    Each year as we re-read the laws of kashrut [Leviticus 11], the arguments for and against keeping kosher are trotted out; as well, the misconceptions of it being about ancient health practices and therefore outdated are raised. Then, there are also the discussions about whether to keep kosher at only at home, or also when eating out; the sloshing through individual degrees of kashrut and the all too-often unfortunate ensuing criticism or rejection of one persons practice over another being insufficient for someone elses comfort.

    Clearly, the Torah understood the importance of eating, and here of ritualized consumption. The significance of food and of eating in Judaism is woven throughout our days and yearly cycle. Each holiday has its special foods; we have a variety of blessings to offer before we eat, depending on what we are eating. Truly, there is so much more packed into this list in Torah of animals which are clean or unclean.

    By keeping our focus only on the laws of kashrut, do we miss the spirit of kashrut? For me, it becomes about eating mindfully. Whether we understand why we eat one animal and not another, or whether we give gratitude and pause before we eat, I think these words of Torah are about doing whatever we can do to change our interaction with food, its preparation, its source, in such a way that consumption becomes holy.

    Reply

  2. jlertzman@fultonsts.com
    Mar 21, 2014 @ 23:03:44

    This is great sweetheart! This is what we talk about all the time 🙂 Shabbat shalom hey!

    John Lertzman Fulton Street Software FultonStreetSoftware.com Off 212-233-0702 Cell 818-540-5733 Sent from mobile device.

    M’kor Nefesh – A Source for Soulfulness wrote:

    cantorcaro posted: “Each year as we re-read the laws of kashrut [Leviticus 11], the arguments for and against keeping kosher are trotted out; as well, the misconceptions of it being about ancient health practices and therefore outdated are raised. Then, there are also the d” Respond to this post by replying above this line

    New post on M’kor Nefesh – A Source for Soulfulness [https://s-ssl.wordpress.com/i/emails/blavatar-default.png] [http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/0188b75411513f0fb8487762d50e3966?s=50&d=identicon&r=G] You Are What You Eat by cantorcaro

    Each year as we re-read the laws of kashrut [Leviticus 11], the arguments for and against keeping kosher are trotted out; as well, the misconceptions of it being about ancient health practices and therefore outdated are raised. Then, there are also the discussions about whether to keep kosher at only at home, or also when eating out; the sloshing through individual degrees of kashrut and the all too-often unfortunate ensuing criticism or rejection of one persons practice over another being insufficient for someone elses comfort.

    Clearly, the Torah understood the importance of eating, and here of ritualized consumption. The significance of food and of eating in Judaism is woven throughout our days and yearly cycle. Each holiday has its special foods; we have a variety of blessings to offer before we eat, depending on what we are eating. Truly, there is so much more packed into this list in Torah of animals which are clean or unclean.

    By keeping our focus only on the laws of kashrut, do we miss the spirit of kashrut? For me, it becomes about eating mindfully. Whether we understand why we eat one animal and not another, or whether we give gratitude and pause before we eat, I think these words of Torah are about doing whatever we can do to change our interaction with food, its preparation, its source, in such a way that consumption becomes holy.

    Reply

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