WWW.KOSHERDELIGHT.COM - GLOBAL JEWISH DIRECTORY WITH NEWS AND INFORMATION, TRAVEL, EDUCATION, PARENTING, HOLIDAYS AND MORE   כושר דילייט - מגאזין יהודי באינטרנט הכולל חדשות ומידע יהודי גלובלי. המגאזין כולל: בתי חב"ד, בתי ספר יהודיים, אוכל כשר ומסעדות כשרות, מקוואות, חינוך ועוד

   

Kosher Restaurants

Kosher Hotels

Synagogues

Kosher recipes

Mikvah

Jewish Holidays

KOSHER RESTAURANTS

KOSHER HOTELS

SYNAGOGUES

KOSHER RECIPES

MIKVAOT

JEWISH HOLIDAYS

                          ב"ה   
KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!

Bullet Home
Bullet
SITE INDEX
BulletJEWISHKD.COM
Bullet
DONATE 

KOSHER
BulletKosher restaurants
   Around the World!
BulletKosher Hotels
Bullet
Kosher Recipes 

BulletVegetarian Restaurants
Bullet
Updates from the
   Chief Rabbinate of
   Israel

BulletKosher Alcohol Updates
Bullet
Kashrut Authorities
BulletKosher Products Lists

Bullet
Kashrut Comments

BET DIN OUTSIDE ISRAEL
BulletInternational Directory of Rabbinical Courts

SHABBAT
BulletCandle Lighting Times
   for Shabbat & Holidays


NEWS
Bullet
News & Media


JEWISH STUFF...
BulletJewish Simcha
BulletJudaism, Spiritualism,
   Opinions and more

Bullet
Jewish Communities
   Around the World

Bullet
Parashat
   HaShavuah
   
Bullet
Jewish Holidays
Bullet
Synagogues
Bullet
Mikvaot
Bullet
Chabad Houses
Bullet
Aish HaTorah
Bullet
Young Israel  
Bullet
NCSY
Bullet
B'nai Akiva
Bullet
Hillel
BulletThe Holocaust


PARENTING
BulletParenting
BulletJewish Camps
BulletKids
Bullet
Babies


HEALTH
Bullet
Jewish Hospitals
Bullet
Your Health
Bullet
Do not Abuse
    Drugs and Alcohol


FRIENDS ON 4
BulletOur Pets
BulletThe Dog Trainer: Q & A
BulletThe Veterinarian Corner
Bullet הטסת כלבים
Bullet כלבים: עכשיו הדיאטה
Bulletהיצלנו את לוקה


BulletInsurance New!
BulletQuestions & Answers
Bullet
Links


BulletCONTACT US!  


 
 
  JEWISH AND KOSHER UNITED STATES       
 
 
  KD MAGAZINE!                      ב"ה     
 

 

SATISFACTION GUARANTEED!

 

It has been said that religious Jews possess two fears:

 

Fleishig phobia - the fear of missing Haagen-Daaz; Bread phobia - the fear of bentsching

 

The latter fear has sprouted quasi-breads, mezonos rolls and fascinating halachic inquiry. Our parsha is home to where it all begins [Devarim, 8:10]:

 

And you will eat and be sated, and you shall bless the Lord, your God, for the good land He has given you.

 

A simple question: the verse links the mitzvah to the land - and yet we know (to the chagrin of many) that bentsching is portable and is not land-locked. Thus Ramban comments:

 

And on the good land - the Torah commands that you shall bless Hashem whenever you are satisfied - for that satisfaction and for the land that He gave you ... and behold the obligation of this mitzvah is in all places.

 

Ramban modifies for the land to and the land - but his point begs the question: Why does a Jew who eats a tuna fish sandwich in Brooklyn have to thank God for the sandwich and Yerushalayim. It all seems rather random

 

We shall return to this point, but first let us note the context of this mitzvah, for Eikev relates the quest of the Jewish nation on the move. Moshe addresses the fearful masses who must overcome their Eretz Yisrael phobia. In that surprising context, Moshe exhorts them to transcend by contemplating their past in two distinct ways. First remember the miraculous, (i.e. Egyptian exodus)

 

17. Will you say to yourself, "These nations are more numerous than I; how will I be able to drive them out"? 18. You shall not fear them. You shall surely remember what the Lord, your God, did to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt: 19. The great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, .... So will the Lord, Your God, do to all the peoples you fear.

 

And then consider the "normal"

 

2. And you shall remember the entire way on which the Lord, your God, led you these forty years in the desert, in order to afflict you to test you, to know what is in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3. And He afflicted you and let you go hungry, and then fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your forefathers know, so that He would make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but rather by, whatever comes forth from the mouth of the Lord does man live. 4. Your clothing did not wear out upon you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.

 

In the Egyptian and desert experience lay the groundwork for transcending. Just as the speaker who may be afraid to address a particular audience can gain confidence by reminding himself of his past successes - that he's been there done that, so, by reflection upon their Egyptian/Midbar experience, the Jews will feel empowered to conquer Eretz Yisrael. Just as Hashem was with them in Egypt and beyond, so He can protect them in a rough neighborhood.

 

Thus all beginnings are crucial. Think of first grade, a first day in class, a first year of marriage or a first impression. If that goes awry, it is hard to destroy and build again.

 

And then Moshe projects even further to a place that the Jews can hardly imagine [Devarim, 8]

 

7. For the Lord your God is bringing you to a good land, a land with brooks of water, fountains and depths, that emerge in valleys and mountains, 8. a land of wheat and barley, vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of oil producing olives and honey, 9. a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, you will lack nothing in it, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose mountains you will hew copper.

 

But that serenity comes with a price:

 

11. Beware that you do not forget the Lord, your God, by not keeping His commandments, His ordinances, and His statutes, which I command you this day,12. lest you eat and be sated, and build good houses and dwell therein, 13. and your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold increase, and all that you have increases, 14. and your heart grows haughty, and you forget the Lord, your God, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage,15. Who led you through that great and awesome desert, [in which were] snakes, vipers and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought water for you out of solid rock,16. Who fed you with manna in the desert, which your forefathers did not know, in order to afflict you and in order to test you, to benefit you in your end,

17. and you will say to yourself, "My strength and the might of my hand that has accumulated this wealth for me."

 

Forgetting God. Caught amidst their fears, Moshe projects to his people a future that is so serene that the greatest enemy comes from within - and it is this context that bentsching looms large - for couched between the serene vision and the potential danger is the antidote:

 

And you will eat and be sated, and you shall bless the Lord, your God, for the good land He has given you.

 

Note the literary parallels of eating and satisfaction [cf. v. 12]. The sense of the bentsching imperative now takes on a much more profound meaning. It is not simply a parochial - God thank you for the bagel drive by. It is long and reflective - covering themes of covenant, kingdom, Torah, and Yerushalayim, - for in the bentsching experience is found the solution to piety amidst comfort; internalize the bentsching notion and you can live in wealth and still remain connected to Hashem.

 

It is thus fascinating to note that a bracha rishona - a blessing before the food is only Rabbinic, whilst the blessing afterwards is from the Torah - for the blessing before the food comes from a place of hunger and need. God is the obvious address when there is need and no obvious solution. But the Jew who is happy and satisfied [yes, Jews can be satisfied] and through simple reflection is able to connect it back to Hashem understands the secret of survival. Read the book of Shoftim or consider the challenge of American Jewry. The Jew who is full has often forgotten His provider.

 

My personal experience has shown me that many unaffiliated Jews are very moved when they discover the simple beauty of a blessing. Connecting food and general good with God and recognizing that small pleasures (and beyond) are opportunities helps make the simplest sandwich a taste of Heavenly cuisine

 

Good Shabbos,

Asher Brander

 

I share two previous pieces I have written about bentsching

Part I

It seems rather innocuous, but in our time-starved world, its sheer length strikes fear in the hearts and minds of men, sufficiently so to have spurned an industry of avoidance. How sad it is!

I refer to the fear of bentsching (grace after meals or birkas hamazon), that alongside fleishig phobia (the fear of eating meat, lest God forbid one miss out on that geshmake Haagen-Daaz or Klein's), figures prominently in the real lives of Orthodox Jews who can't find the time or zitsfleisch (patience) to bentsch properly. Thus mezonos rolls, rice cakes and Ezekiel bread have emerged as possible alternatives. Both the former (are mezonos rolls really mezonos?) and latter (what's the bracha on Ezekiel bread?) have developed fascinating halachic discussions that transcend this forum.

[I find it fitting/ironic that as I write these words, (Friday Morning 4:26 am) the smell of delicious Angel's bakery bread wafts into our Jerusalem apartment. It is a shtickl fun olam haba - a piece of other worldliness].

The source of the incredibly beautiful mitzvah of bentsching can be found in our parsha (8:10).

You will eat and be satisfied, and you will bless Hashem, your G-d, for the good land He has given you.

You may have noticed that the Biblical obligation of birkas hamazon starts when one is satiated[1] - a mere k'zayis (olive size measure ~1.1 oz.) of bread just won't do. To adduce support to this idea, a famous, beautiful piece of Talmud is often cited[2]:

R. Avira taught: The ministering angels said before God: Master of the Universe, it is written in Your law, "(I am God) that does not favor nor accepts bribes"[3], but in fact, do You not show favor to Israel, as it is written," The Lord shall show his favor towards you?[4]" He replied: And shall I not raise up My countenance towards Israel, for in my Torah I wrote: And you shall eat , be satisfied and bless the Lord, your God, and they are particular [to bentsch] if the quantity is but an olive,[ is but an egg]

A two tiered obligation emerges. Rabbinically, we are obliged to bentsch after a k'zayis of bread whilst the Torah obligation only commences after one achieves satisfaction. The Talmud then extols the Rabbinic level that invites special Divine grace as a worthy investment with residual benefits

Much about this Talmudic piece baffles. Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg (1878-1966) asks two basic questions:

1. If the obligation to bentsch requires satisfaction and one is not satisfied with a k'zayis, why is the Rabbinic obligation not equivalent to a blessings made in vain?

2. How has the gemara solved its initial problem of God's favoritism? At the end of the piece, God is still favoring His Jews ?

Rav Weinberg's brilliant insight flows first from his personal nostalgic reflection - one worth our consideration:

 

Before his move to Germany and then Switzerland, Rav Weinberg lived in Lithuania. He described the dire poverty of many in his "city". I suspect he meant the small town of Pilvishki. Often dire poverty created Shabbos Jews - Jews who were basically hungry all week so that their Shabbos could be celebrated with (not a lot, but) a bit more.

"And these Jews", said Rav Weinberg, "what would happen to them when they would come to the shul and find guests who needed a meal? Many were the first to jump at the opportunity." Of course, when they came home with their guests, their meager morsels had to be stretched out to accommodate the guests.

But make no mistake, exclaimed Rav Weinberg, even as they ate less, perhaps only a k'zayis of bread, oh was there satisfaction; a sense of contentment that flowed from giving another Jew the ta'am (taste) of Shabbos. In other words, their love of kindness more than made up for their lack of food. This said Rav Weinberg is what the gemara is teaching. With only partially filled stomachs, they found great joy in the k'zayis and were indeed able to bentsch from a place of great satisfaction.

Such an attitude unleashes a Divine quid pro quo: My dear children, by attaining satisfaction from your noble acts of excessive kindness, I too must respond by showering you with excessive kindness as well.

As a bar mitzvah, my son recently received what I like to call a "me-pod" (actually 3 of them), a symbol worthy of its generation. Now, even one who is walking on the street has the societal license to completely ignore all other people. A few years back, in an anecdotal survey of slogans for popular products, I encountered these ennobling messages: "Because you deserve it", "Do something for yourself", "I am the King", "Obey your thirst", and "Double your pleasure".

Unquestionably, transmitting the hallmark Jewish legacy of loving kindness within such an environment carries a whole set of challenges.

***********************

PART II

The preceding was written two years back. I have since learned a wondrous Vilna Gaon comment whose words confirm, complement and elevate this idea to yet another level:

First the root verse of the Vilna Gaon:

The one with the good eye shall be blessed - for he has given from his bread to the poor. [Proverbs, 22:9]

Vilna Gaon cites our gemara and asks 3 more questions:

1. Ostensibly, God could have chosen any mitzvah where Jews go beyond the norm [Shabbos, Kosher, Family Purity] to evoke bracha; the gemara's evoking of this particular mitzvah seems random? [and requires explanation]

2. At the end, the gemara mentions the k'zayis- olive [measurement] and then the k'beitzah-egg. The egg is [really and] halachically bigger than the olive [a point we will soon reference]. Here's the question: If the Jews even bentsch on an olive [smaller amount], certainly they bentsch on an egg [bigger amount]? Why does the Talmud move from the more impressive to the less impressive - a very non Talmudic way of speaking?

3. The evoking of the egg/olive seems to be a veiled reference[5] to a classic dispute between R. Meir and R.Yehuda regarding the minimum amount that requires bentsching. R.Meir opts for the olive and R Yehuda for the egg. Halacha goes with R. Meir's olive. Is it not strange for Hashem [who is talking as as per the Talmudic story] to evoke a dispute? For us, there may be a dispute - but, to quote Talmudic parlance, u'mee ikah sefeika kamei shemaya. Does Heaven harbor doubts?

Vilna Gaon solves them all in one fell swoop. First he evokes two sources that indicate:

Man's average daily food requirement [2 meals] = 6 eggs = 20 olives[6]

Ergo, one meal = 3 eggs = 10 olives.

Eaten alone, this is a very satisfying meal, but the tov ayin [good-eyed] Jew wants to share his [meager] food with others; and while doing this, he desperately seeks to acknowledge God in his life[7]. Halacha teaches that a minyan of Jews precede bentsching with an exalted zimun [invitation to bentsch], one that evokes Elokeinu [our God].

That's the prize. The tov ayin Jew pines to say: Hashem, or rather Elokim: I see you so clearly in my normal life. A good and with-it friend of mine recently shared a personal sense that he always feels like Hashem gives him so much even as he is inadequate and undeserving. [he then shared with me a source that teaches that one should not say that - but not for now] .

The tov ayin Jew is on the lookout for nine other Jews; he will reduce his food intake to a bare k'zayis - but it's well worth it, for in giving to the others, he gains the opportunity to explicitly acknowledge Hashem. Thus the Talmud first references the k'zayis, for in seeking the ideal minyan, he only eats a k'zayis [for ten olives = one meal].

Alas, life is not always a party and he can't always find ten Jews, but he does not give up, he still searches for two other Jews with whom he can utter the beautiful words of the regular zimun: let us, as a group bless the One from whose bounty we eat. With less Jews, he is able to eat more - the egg-sized amount of bread, [for 3 eggs = one meal].

Thus the deeper Talmudic meaning: The one who tries so hard to bless/exalt/acknowledge God [and His role in one's everyday life] will sure receive God's blessing[8]. In that equation there is perfect calibration rather than perceived randonmness.

Consider: Avraham is told And I shall bless those who bless you, for blessing you is by extension acknowledging Me. What is true for Avraham is true for the whole of his people[9]. The one who seeks to give blessing to God's people and understands from whence it all comes - shall himself be g'bentched.

As I pen these words from the land of Israel, I testify to the incredible kindness of a people who don't have so much [materially] but still manage to give it all.

A gutten Shabbos from Beit Meir, Israel

Good Shabbos - Asher Brander


[1] This is the assumption of the overwhelming majority of halachic authorities. Cf. Ra'avad however, Mishneh Torah, Brachos, 5:15

[2] Berachos, 20b

[3] Devarim, 10:17

[4] Bamidbar, 6:26

[5] Cf. Rashi, Berachos 20b

[6] The precise measurements are a matter of controversy. Vilna Gaon's source is a Rif and Zohar. Cf. Gra on Mishlei, 22:9

[7] In Vilna Gaon's terminology - the Jews are a holy people that seek with candles at night to find ways of exalting and praising Hashem

[8] Vilna Gaon cites a Zohar and develops this notion beyond - but this is was a feeble attempt to capture the essential rational notion.

[9] Cf. Bamidbar 10:35, Rashi ad loc.

 Good Shabbos

Asher Brander             


 
   
Custom Search
 
KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE! כושר דילייט - מגזין החדשות והמידע מהעולם היהודי ומישראל, כולל מסעדות כשרות, בתי כנסת ועוד ועוד

Zikit Translation Services

ZIKIT TRANSLATION SERVICES , שירותי תירגום, שרותי תירגום, שירות תרגומים, שירות תירגומים, שרות תרגום, תירגום, תרגום, תירגום מסמכים, תירגום תעודות, תרגום טכני, תירגום טכני, תרגום, תרגומים מעברית לאנגלית, תרגומים מאנגלית לעברית, תרגום עברי אנגלית אנגלי עברי -  זיקית שירותי תרגום

www.zikit.org


THE HOLOCAUST - THE SHOAH
THE JEWISH HOLOCAUST
THE HOLOCAUST - THE SHOAH
THE HOLOCAUST - THE SHOAH

Advertise with Us!

KD Kosher Recipe Collection
Send us your 
Kosher Recipe!


COMPREHENSIVE WORLDWIDE JEWISH SEARCH: JEWISHKD.COM Comprehensive Worldwide Jewish Search