People eat for all kinds of reasons. When they’re lonely, when they’re anxious, when they’re angry, when they’re happy, when they’re sad, when they are bored, and when they are tired, and on and on it goes.
So we do agree, our interest in food is not limited to its nutritional value but as well to fulfill psychological and emotional drives and needs.
There is a rule in mysticism that everything we see is just a symptom, an indication and an exterior expression of an underlying spiritual current and energy. The reason something appears and is true in this physical world is because, underlying what we see, is a spiritual root and basis for this physical reality.
Once they came over to Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, a great Hassidic master in the early 1800s in Poland and asked him. “Why do Hassidim spend time, sitting, eating and drinking with each other, when that precious time can be better spent praying and studying the bible.”
The Rabbi answered. “The bible writes, “You should eat the (second) tithes of your grain …. Before G-d your G-d, in (Jerusalem) …in order that you will learn to fear G-d your G-d for all time.”
“From here we see, that when the right people are sitting at a table, with the correct attitude, in a proper atmosphere, and they gather with the express purpose to use this opportunity to stir the hearts of each other, by sharing stories of great holy people, it is possible to reach the elevated quality and virtue, fear of G-d.”
Food, not only serves the needs of our bodies and our intellectual and emotional needs, food and drinks can help strengthen and nourish the spiritual needs and aims of the soul.
In the book of Psalms King David says,” They wandered in the wilderness in a path of desolation ….hungry also thirsty their soul languished with them….” On this verse, the Baal Shem Tov taught a great mystical principle.
The hunger and the thirst a person has for food and drink derives from deep down inside the soul. The G-dly soul, sent down here to this world to fulfill its mission to make a G-dly abode of this physical world, seeks and craves the G-dly sparks inside the food, to uplift and transform the otherwise physical food, to a higher purpose.
The G-dly soul within every person is like a candle. Always dancing and flickering upward, with a constant never ending thirst to fulfill its purpose. When the soul is not able to reach and satisfy its raison d’etre it languishes, and as a result the person many times subconsciously feels emptiness within their lives.
The desire for food teaches the Baal Shem Tov, is a deep down desire to connect with a world that needs fixing. This fixing which brings inner fulfilment is reached in the case of food, when the connection is made with the G-dly spark inside. When we keep in mind, that eating should serve the purpose and be another way to make this world a more G-dly place.
The Bible also says it is possible, “you might then eat and be satisfied, build good houses and live in them……as your heart becomes arrogant you (might) forget G-d your G-d.” It’s a double edged sword.
We can take the food in our hands and realize how blessed we are to see, smell, touch and enjoy the food and give thanks to G-d for this, not taking for granted this incredible gift.. Or, we can gluttonously grab the food to feed and strengthen the pleasure seeking, self –indulgent side within ourselves.
Every time we eat, we can either master the food, by deciding what, when, and how, we will eat, or, the food becomes our master. It tell us, what, when, and how, to eat it and then, we’ve become subservient to it.