Apr 29, 2013

Do We Affect Inanimate Objects with our Moods and Intentions?

Many years ago, I read the Chicken Soup for the Soul Cookbook which was a mix of warm stories about cooking and memories of family meals as well as recipes.  I remember being intrigued by the idea of one's emotions affecting the food one prepares.  Is this true? I wondered.

So if the food is equally delicious, the food that is prepared lovingly will have a different effect on the one who eats it than food prepared commercially? Really?

Is a Shabbos meal prepared at home qualitatively different than a Shabbos meal bought in a store.  Does it matter whether dough is kneaded by hand or by machine as far as its effect on the person who eats the finished product?

Over the years I read a number of stories that bring out this idea of כּח הפּועל בּנפעל which in this context I'll translate to mean the effect or impact that the one doing the action has on the material they work with.

For example, there is the well-known story of the clock belonging to the Chozeh of Lublin.  Most clocks that chime impart a certain melancholy to the listener because they are reminded of the inexorable passage of time.  The Chozeh's clock was a cheerful one as it reminded people that they were that much closer to the Geula.

In a lesser known story about the Chozeh, he found it difficult to sleep on another person's bed.  He would say it pricked him.  R' Yossel of Ostila hired a carpenter, a G-d fearing man, to build a bed.  The Chozeh felt the pricking in this bed too, but slept well in R' Yossele's bed. 

When asked what was wrong with the new bed, the Chozeh said it reeked of melancholy because it was constructed during the 9 Days and the carpenter was sad.

to be continued

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