Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Eating Without Making a Bracha is Killing a Kiddush HaShem In the Prime of Its Life

This year I got my flu shot and made an appointment for my annual physical (four years late...) and scheduled a colonoscopy (eight years late... sigh....).  After all that I got the flu; relatively severe case.  After that (three days into the flu when I was starting to feel better and my fever had gone down) my fever went back up; turns out I got a superinfection (not "super" as in superman, just super as in "on top of").  When I called my (ultra orthodox) physician to get antibiotics, I complained a bit and noted that for five years I had ignored good sense and not had regularly scheduled visits, but now that I was trying to be "good" and d, I got sick on top of sick!  He just laughed at with me and replied that is sounded as though HaShem was saying to me, "Oh!  You want השתדלות, do you?  Fine; I'll give you השתדלות!"  (Interestingly, Google's first translation of השתדלות is "intercession", not "effort". )

Ok, that's neither here nor there; I just thought it was a cute story.  Well; ok, it is hear and there.  Everything that was created was intended for one purpose and one purpose alone: to express כבוד שמים/the Glory of Heaven.  Man, as the pinnacle of Creation, is expected to use each and every moment as an opportunity to make a קידוש השם (no, Google translate, not to martyr oneself, but to sanctify HaShem's name).  Using a fever to contemplate and discuss where the level of one's  השתדלות should reach transforms the event into a קידוש השם.  To not do that does more than miss an opportunity, it murders the time wasted.

Let's go back to brachos.  Chazal tell us that anyone who benefits from this world without making a bracha has embezzled consecrated property (מעילה).  What exactly does that mean and how does making a bracha fix things?  It seems a bit lame to say that everything in the world belongs to HaShem, but when I make a bracha he says, "good boy!" and throws me a cookie (ie, permission to eat whatever I muttered the incantation over).  Note: as lame as that sounds, that's how I understood that Chazal for years... so embarrassed.  Much more is going on here!

Take an apple.  R' Avigdor Miller, ztz"l, has a famous vort on the כבוד שמים inherent in the apple: it's beautiful color on the outside, the wrapping that keeps it fresh in the inside, the cup of juice and delightful crunch of the fruit itself, and coupons for more apples at the middle of each.  (Google it... you'll find recordings and videos of it.)  If a person grabs the apple and simply eats it, he has just silenced that symphony of כבוד שמים.  But if he first makes a bracha -- a human being, the pinnacle of creation, uses that apple to express his thanks and praise his Creator, to even declare His sovereignty.  There can be no greater קידוש השם that could be expressed by that apple.  Making a bracha isn't an incantation at all, it is bringing that apple to it's intended purpose.  There is only one thing left at that point, to eat the apple.  The apple has thus fulfilled the purpose for which it was created.

Eating without making a bracha is embezzlement of consecrated property; eating with a bracha is bringing that property to it's intended purpose.  Permission to eat it not a reward for making the bracha, it is it's culmination.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…