Chapter 8 of Deuteronomy focuses a lot of attention on eating! “Remember the manna”, “man shall not live by bread alone”, the Israelites are being brought into a land “where you can eat food without fear of scarceness”, and “when you eat your fill, bless God.” Eating is normally a mundane act. We are hungry, so we eat. Yet, our mystical teaching implies that God’s will is in everything. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, in his book, Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide, teaches that “when a person eats, he should concentrate totally on the food and the experience of eating it, clearing his mind of other thoughts.” The food itself incorporates the spark of the Divine into one’s body. Therefore, the energy that results from the consumption of food should be dedicated to God’s service.

We recite a blessing before we eat, thanking God “Who brings forth bread …”, for example. Notice that the verb, “brings,” is in the present tense. One would think it should be in the past, yet the Divine energy is present “now” as we consume it. After we are done eating our fill, we recite Birkat HaMazon, “Blessings after Meals.” This is not merely to thank God for sustenance (a worthwhile expression of gratitude), but it is an expression of the awareness that the divine energy contained in the food is now in me. I have to transform that potential energy into something positive in the world.

Perhaps when you sit down for your next meal, you might come to a different understanding of what it means to eat and be satisfied.