The Eternal Life Diet
After eating too much Matzah, potatoes, eggs and all the new Kosher for Pesach foods that weren’t even kosher in the past during the rest of the year, it certainly seems time for a diet. The Torah obliges with what is perhaps the main list of eating restrictions that God commands.
While it’s hard enough to stick to one of the more recent popular diets, the Torah’s diet can be fairly limiting. However, while the Torah doesn’t promise a slim figure, reduced calorie intake or feeling full, it has other rewards in store.
Leviticus 11:43-44 states regarding eating non-kosher items:
“…do not defile yourselves with them, and do not become impure, for I am the Lord, your God, and you will make yourselves Holy; and you will be Holy, for I am Holy…”
Rabbi Ovadia Sforno is intrigued by the repeated mention of “Holy” regarding our eating habits. He explains that the first aspect of holiness by refraining from eating “contaminating” foods is to prepare ourselves and our bodies for holiness and a closer relationship with God.
The second mention of holiness refers to the fact that those who adhere to the laws of eating kosher are granted the possibility of nothing less than eternal life. (That beats any diet I know hands down!)
Sforno adds the caveat that one needs to “walk in God’s ways” as well, but the Kosher diet seems to be a prerequisite of sorts for an everlasting spiritual relationship with God.
Sforno further explains that God also offers to become a coach for anyone who embarks on this diet, quoting the dictum from the Talmud (Tractate Yoma 39a) that if a person makes himself Holy a bit, he is made Holy a lot (with divine help).
In this post-eating holiday period may we all return/start/continue with better eating habits and may a reasonable concern for the laws of eating properly guide our gastronomic decisions.
To the memory of Sylvia Jaffe Feigenbaum (Chana Sara bat Mirtza) of Efrat/Cleveland. The mother of my aunt Eudice Spitz and the Matriarch of the extensive Feigenbaum tribe.
While much has and will be said and written about this remarkable woman, one recollection from the many that I found noteworthy is that this was the only family I knew that under her leadership published a regular newspaper about and for the family, to keep her clan connected in a way that is amazing and enviable and I am certain will be felt for many generations to come.