Jul 30, 2013

Bon Appetit

A quote from a food editor in a frum magazine:

"These days, whether we're reading about it in a magazine, or watching it live on stage at a fundraiser, cooking has become great entertainment.  It's a positive thing.  In every Jewish community, our interest in cooking is being leveraged to plan events and raise tzedaka for both chesed and Torah institutions."

I'm thinking there just might be a bias there, considering who said that ...  Are there any Torah sources that say that immersion in the world of food is a positive thing? The sources I've come across have a different perspective:

* The Gemara interprets "kedoshim tihiyu" (Vayikra19:2), "Be holy" as a mitzva to "abstain also from that which is permissible to you" and a warning against being  a naval b'reshus ha'Torah (a hedonist with the Torah's permission) who indulges in every permissible pleasure.

* A quote from Chovos Ha'Levavos (Duties of the Heart) in the introduction to Shaar Avodas Hashem says: "Desires for worldly pleasures are unable to dwell in the heart together with a love of G-d."

* Tosfos in Kesubos (104a) quotes the Medrash. It says before a person prays that Torah goes into his system, he should pray that delicacies don't go into his system. Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi had the finest foods in the winter and in the summer. The Gemara says that when Rav Yehuda HaNassi died, he lifted up his ten fingers and said Ribono Shel Olam, it is known and revealed to you, that I toiled with my ten fingers and I didn't even have the pleasure of my smallest finger. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was at such a high spiritual level that despite his extravagant lifestyle he could testify that during his entire lifetime nothing was consumed for his own enjoyment.

We may not have to eschew trying a new recipe, but to glorify gastronomic delights and to say that immersing oneself in the culinary world is a good thing is something else entirely.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks.

    When I was in Eretz Yisrael, I was told that chassidim don't say "betei'avon--bon appetit," but "labri'ut--in good health."