It's In Your Blood!
Good thing my juicer can’t sue me for blender abuse, as every second day another media-proclaimed health guru raises his or her glass to toast to a new concoction that promises to be the cure to everything from the plague to plaque from phlebitis to arthritis. Who wouldn’t be on board? And so, it was not too long ago that I was ready to put down my book of Psalms and take up celery juice instead as the new savior for all my ills, including bone density. (Although Rav Nachman teaches that one’s sins are engraved on one’s bones and I wondered how my green drink would help with that.) Nonetheless, my Ninja and Bullet have been spinning overtime trying to keep up with the latest crazes. Some have even dropped dead from over usage and so I’m back to praying that the flavor of the month will have better results on me than on my electric assistants now resting in appliance heaven.
The problem with today’s society is the desire for the quick fix. The insatiable hunger for magic tonics or potions that will obviate all the responsibilities that go along with being healthy (or being religious.)
I have some obvious conclusions to draw from the fact that health crazes and diet books are so popular: We fundamentally believe that we are what we eat, that healthy items make us healthy and that we want to be healthy. And yet God has given his people a “diet book” that ensures that they will be not merely healthy, but HOLY; a diet very unlike my liquidizers whose warranties have long expired, but rather one that has endured through the millennia. Yet we flout God and prefer to believe the spandex-wearing fitness gurus who are fitly dressed to stretch the truth. The sages teach that the food we eat affects much more than our bodies; By eating not kosher we sully our souls, distance ourselves from the Almighty and bring on sicknesses.
In this week’s Torah reading Tzav it is written: “And you shall not eat any blood in any of your dwelling places, whether from birds or from animals. Any person who eats any blood, that soul shall be cut off from its people.” The kabbalists teach that our soul is in our blood and seeing that food feeds our blood it affects our souls as well. The more we learn the depths of our commandments, the more we realize that God is the best diet guru even if He doesn’t have an infomercial. The Talmud states: “That I, blood, am the primary cause of Illness. (Bava Batra 58b) Through a complex process the food we eat turns into blood, feeds our blood. This is something the Torah taught us way before science came along. Yes, we are what we eat, both physically and spiritually. Keeping kosher is the best diet to be on.
The Jewish people are allowed to eat only ten animals, none of which hunt for prey. They are docile and peaceful. Our sages have taught that eating animals that lust for blood and go for the kill affects our characters and personalities. If eating an energy bar gives you energy, then how hard is it to believe that eating violent and aggressive animals can transform your energy as well making it ever harder to keep the Torah's commandments, all meant to elevate our animal soul?
People will often ask if God really cares what I eat for lunch? And the answer is a resounding thunderous, YES. So much so that Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit. The first sin revolved around eating and brought about the fall of mankind. It is said of Adam that he was the most gorgeous man that ever lived, but by eating what he should not have, his stature and beauty were diminished. Simply because God said so, food affects us profoundly. When we sin with food, and in general, our inner light is diminished and it shows in the spiritual realm as well as on the earthly plains.
Eating kosher doesn’t just mean avoiding pig and its non-kosher cohorts, it also means not eating “like” a pig. Be a mensch in all your appetites. Have restraint and limitations. Don’t listen to the slithering snake offering you the “forbidden flavors” of an artificial and ephemeral paradise. Eat healthily, take care of the body that God gave you (it's just on loan) but also guard your soul. Body and soul are partners in time, crime and the sublime. One day we will have to give an accounting for our vast intake not just as regards our fitness but before the Eternal Witness who gave us His menu along with the commandment that we not contaminate ourselves: “For I am the Lord your God, and you shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, because I am holy, and you shall not defile yourselves ... For I am the Lord Who has brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God. Thus, you shall be holy, because I am holy.” Bon Appétit!