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What are you eating?

Thursday, 26 February, 2015 - 10:17 am

When eating, the most often asked questions are; how does it taste? Do you like the texture? The question ‘how does it chew?’ is never heard. While we need teeth to be able to eat solids, they are not perceived as part of eating. Teeth seem to be functionaries, something designed to cut, hold or grind food.

In the Purim story (Esther 3;8), Haman said to King Ahasuerus: "There is a certain people scattered and separate among the peoples throughout all the provinces of your kingdom, and their laws differ (שֹׁנוֹת) from [those of] every people, and they do not keep the king's laws; it is [therefore] of no use for the king to let them be."

For the word differ, the term shonot was used.  Shonot (שֹׁנוֹת)has the same root word as shinayim (שיניים) - teeth. The Midrash comments on this verse: because of their religion, they (the Jews) use their teeth differently than us (the gentiles) eating all the time: Passover - matzah, Shavuot - dairy, Rosh Hashana - sweet things and Sukkot - eat in a hut.  As the joke goes: how do you explain all Jewish holidays in less than 10 words? "They tried to kill us, we won! Let’s eat! The Midrash continues: G-d heard this and said -  I will add another holiday and they will have another festive meal.

The teeth are a function of eating but are not part of the enjoyment of eating. A function of teeth that infuriated Haman was that they are a wall.  Teeth block food from coming into the mouth.  How are Jewish teeth different? Before a Jew eats food, they check to see if it may pass this wall of teeth. Is it Kosher? "What blessing do I make on this food?" When a Jew is done eating, he thanks G-d for the food by saying Birkat Hamzon. (While there are 1000's of laws of Kosher - here is a book to get started "Going Kosher in 30 Days").

Take the Kosher Challange, add in your kosher observance for the next 30 days. Try it in different ways; only kosher meat from www.HarfordKosher.com, only foods with a kosher symbol, not eating milk and meat together or before eating make a blessing

What do you think? If you are on Facebook, post the commitment publicly it will help you keep it :).

Have a great Shabbos and I hope to see you on Purim!

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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