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Thought for the Day: Eating Before Kiddush and Mitzvos, Minhagim, and Avoda Zara

Ok... this never happened.  No one has ever come to my house since I've been Jewish and asked to be served bacon.  However, if it were to happen, I have a ready answer: Not in my house.  I am confident you are not wondering why I would be so blunt and unequivocal about that.  You may, however, be wondering why in the world I would have a ready answer to a question that is really not likely to happen outside of a Twilight Zone episode.  I have a ready answer for that question:  Because of the following event that did happen.  Someone came to my house and asked for a glass of water.  I had a ready answer: Not in my house.  What's that?  You want some context?  Sure.

Maybe you have already concluded that it happened on Yom Kippur or Tisha b'Av.  Nope.  In fact, had that happened, I would not have given that answer.  Anyone coming to my house and asking for water is probably sick and needs it; I'd run to get it for them.  It was a Friday night, actually.  We had made early Shabbos and were in the middle our s'uda when a neighbor came to visit my wife (I know those last two words are superfluous... obvious they didn't come to visit me).  The neighbor had already lit candles and accepted Shabbos.  She asked for a glass of water and I said she couldn't drink before kiddush.  She said, my family does.  I said: Not in my house.

Shulchan Aruch, OC, 271:4 states very clearly: It is forbidden to taste anything before making kiddush -- even water; and even if one were eating from before the onset of Shabbos, they would have to stop (at sunset, as explained by the Mishna Brura).  If you are still wondering why I was so blunt and unequivocal about a glass of water, for pete's sake; then I have a question for you.  What is different about the bacon situation?  I don't eat bacon for the same reason I don't drink water before kiddush: because G-d said not to.  Now you know why I had a ready answer to the question, because the question was -- in both cases -- please serve me something it is forbidden by the Creator of the world to consume in this situation.  It's one question, so it gets one answer.

Perhaps you think it's different because the Jewish people just don't eat bacon; eyew!  A person who thinks that way is not fulfilling any mitzvos, he is simply following the customs of Klal Yisrael.  That's not bad, Klal Yisrael is a great and noble nation.  On the other hand, though, our greatness and nobility is our attachment to HaShem and His Torah.  Still, wanting to be attached to nobility is certainly a step in the right direction.  On the other hand, if a person thinks the bacon case is different because bacon is unhealthy, but water is healthy; now we have a bigger problem.  That person is putting his own opinions first and actually judging the Creator the world.  Thats bad; that's avoda zara... really, really bad.

That kind of detail is the beauty of our Torah; every single moment is a chance to choose greatness, even something as simple as whether or not to drink a glass of water.

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