With October including the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret, this month Jews worldwide seem to be particularly obsessed with food, which begs the question: How can the physical act of eating become something spiritual?
“The well known joke, ‘They tried to kill us, we won, now let’s eat’, is not that far from Jewish cultural truth,” Rabbi Shmuel Veffer, owner of Galilee Green, an Israeli company which produces premium extra virgin olive oil for worldwide distribution, told Breaking Israel News. “Many think that food is needed only to live. They don’t relate to eating as a Godly experience.”
There are actually numerous Biblical dictates relating to food and eating, turning what can be a base physical act into a holy experience. “We are not angels who don’t eat,” said Rabbi Veffer. “We could have been created without the need for sustenance everyday. Yet God wants us to eat daily in order to ensure that we connect to Him through food.”
Rabbi Veffer explained that people are “souls connected to a body”: God placed us into a physical world in order to uplift what we have been given and recognize the endless gifts that the Creator has bestowed upon us.
He shared that through his production of Galilee Green Olive Oil, he has become even more deeply aware of how God put into effect numerous ways to remember Him in all that we do. “As farmers in the Holy Land, we have many more Biblical commandments concerning food manufacturing than people outside of the Land,” said Rabbi Veffer.
“Of course Galilee Green Olive Oil is kosher. But farming and food production in Israel also involves laws about when we can plant, when we can harvest, taking tithes and setting aside a percentage of our land for the poor to reap.”
The Bible makes clear that the first mistake made in the Garden of Eden was Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Life. “Since then, we must fix their mistake by eating not only for pleasure but also to nourish our bodies and souls,” noted Rabbi Veffer. “We know that eating healthful food as close to nature as possible nourishes our body. Saying blessings of thanks before and after eating demonstrates gratitude and recognition of our Maker. This, along with keeping the other Biblical mandates relating to food, nourishes our soul.”
Since the destruction of the Holy Temples in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago, the Talmud states that our dining tables have become the replacement for the Temple’s altar. “But this only happens when a meal is turned from a physical to a spiritual experience,” continued Rabbi Veffer. “In addition to what has already been mentioned, especially during Shabbat and holidays, Jews make a special effort to invite guests to their table in order to share God’s bounty. It is also praiseworthy to speak about Biblical concepts and words of wisdom while eating. These acts all turn the physical meal into something spiritual.”
Rabbi Veffer pointed out that in Hebrew, an orchard is called pardes (פַּרדֵס). This word is related to “paradise”. When Adam and Eve ate what God specifically told them not to, they removed themselves from paradise. “The ultimate paradise is being connected to God,” concluded Rabbi Veffer. “Taking care of our bodies through nutrient-rich foods and taking care of our soul through God awareness while eating is a perfect recipe to live in paradise.”
To learn more about Galilee Green olive oil, please click here.