Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Question & Answer With Rabbi Tal Zwecker - Delicious Food

(Picture by Elan Kornblum)

A Simple Jew asks:

I recently listened to the first lesson in your Jewish Meditation audio shiurim that is based on the Tzetel Katan #15, in which Rebbe Elimelech of Lizhensk wrote, "While eating and drinking each thing, keep in mind that the taste you experience when you chew and swallow the food is the divine inner essence and holy sparks that are in the food in drink"

If indeed we are tasting the ruchnius contained in the food, how do you explain the phenomenon that if two people eat an identical piece of food one person may find it to be extremely delicious while the other does not?

Rabbi Tal Zwecker answers:

The Holy Baal Shem Tov zy"a taught (Tzvaos haRivash pg 13a quoted in Baal Shem Tov on the Torah parshas VaYechi #5) Paraphrased:

This is a great general concept anything a person wears, eats or a vessel he uses he derives benefit from its spiritual life-force and Chiyus. There are holy sparks there which belong to his root soul, shoresh neshama - this is the reason why some people like one thing that others dislike. When you use that object even for your physical needs you are rectifying and fixing those sparks since you now use that strength to serve Hashem this is why sometimes after you have finished rectifying something by uplifting the sparks Hashem takes that object away and gives it over to someone else to rectify.

Based on this we see that while we are tasting ruchnius if you like a certain food it is proof that you have a rectification with it, and that it is connected to your root soul whereas food that you find unappetizing does not belong to your root soul.

My Rebbe the Clevelander Rebbe Shlit"a brings down from his father the Strozhnitzer Rebbe zt"l: Divrei Yissachar 1st edition Likutim page 320:

The Holy Baal Shem Tov zy"a taught the meaning of the verse in Tehillim 107:5, "They hungered and were thirsty, their soul fainted," - We must understand why did Hashem create in man a desire for food and drink? The reason is that the first man Adam's sparks enclothe themselves in the non-living, growing, living, and speaking things in the world. These all desire to be bound up to holiness. Therefore every food and beverage man consumes mamash literally contains his sparks that he must rectify.

The Rebbe then adds his own novel idea: This is the meaning of the After Bracha - Bore Nefashos Rabos. Hashem creates great and lofty souls who at first glance should not desire physical things such as food and drink. However veChesronon Al Kol Ma SheBarasa - they are created by Hashem with a lack which needs to be satiated by eating and drinking, the reason Hashem does this is - LeHaChyos Baham Nefesh Kol Chai - to give life to those souls and sparks found in the food and drink that are being uplifted.


At June 13, 2007 at 9:10:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rabbi Zwecker's explanation helps me better understand the story of R' Pinchas of Koretz and his "prescription" of cheese to cure the illness of R' Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov (see Dixie Yid's translations at and Thanks!

At June 13, 2007 at 10:25:00 AM EDT, Blogger AS said...

"While eating and drinking each thing, keep in mind that the taste you experience when you chew and swallow the food is the divine inner essence and holy sparks that are in the food in drink"...interesting I had no idea that there were holy sparks in food. I could understand how you can turn the mundane holy but it's interesting to call the food holy somehow ( unless it's shabbos food perhaps).

At June 13, 2007 at 12:02:00 PM EDT, Blogger DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Jewish blogmeister,
It's interesting. The Baal Hatanya in "Yigaleh Lan Ta'amei," in the Chasdus Mevueres series, has a really great explanaation on all of this. He also talks about the holiness of food, and how it is really mishtalshel (descends many levels) from a world and level even higher than the root source of our own neshamos. He said that we must think to elevate those nitzotzos of Kedusha and incorporate them into ourselves while we are eating. If we do this, on weekdays, it helps elevate those things back to their source. But on Shabbos they already exist on their original level, and then we have to have in mind that they should take us on their coat tails to their level of Kedusha with them, rather than them needing us to elevate them. That piece in Chassidus Mevu'eres is one of the best and most illuminating to me, that I've learned.

Shoshana, glad that translation meant something to you several months later! Thank you for reminding me about that story and its connection to what R' Zwecker wrote.

-Dixie Yid


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