Why are we obsessed with food? Take the latest in nouvelle cuisine out of France called vin-bo-vin: such tasty beef that it is going for $122 dollars per kilogram! (You’ll be surprised to know the reason and the meaning behind the strange name of this beef and why it is flying off the shelves).
Our food passion is really bizarre: How much time transpires between the moment that you put a piece of food in your mouth and when it turns into mush? Maybe five or ten seconds! And yet, how much time and energy and how many trillions of dollars are spent on the food industry to gratify these short seconds?
This question is amplified when it comes to Jews, who make such a fuss about food: Hamantashen and kreplach on Purim. Latkes on Chanukah. Cheese blintzes on Shavuot. Honey and apples on Rosh Hashana. Even Yom Kippur – the holiest day of the year – is about food: It’s a fast day – we are fixated on not eating food. And on the day before Yom Kippur we are told to eat twice as much! Then there is of course Passover, with its unique menu, and each family preparing their own special recipes. It seems that for every holiday there is another food… What’s this Jewish obsession with food and gastronomy? What is so spiritual about a sumptuous meal?
This sermon looks as the deeper meaning of the message within this week’s Torah reading: “Not by bread alone does man live, but by all that comes out of the mouth of G-d…” and addresses a most basic but far reaching question: Could there be something more to our hunger and thirst than just food deprivation?
Gleaning from our great mystics – including Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, whose 73rd yahrzeit we honor this Shabbos (Av 20) – we learn that eating a simple meal – and even our particular food tastes – is part of our life’s mission, and it gives us nothing less than the opportunity to change the world!