[From Atkins to the Zone and]
everything in between, diet, nutrition and fitness are the all consuming topics
of this generation. Countless hours are
invested in trying to find that perfect combination of food, nutritional
supplements and exercise. In the
process, kitchens are transformed into mini-labs complete with scales and
measures, herbs and sprout growers, juicers grinders and processors of all
sorts. [Precious space in small
apartments has been dedicated to all kinds of exercise equipment.] Books and
magazines on health and nutrition crowd the shelves and pantries are filled
with nutritional experiments.
Contemporary diet and nutrition programs have, for
many, virtually become belief systems. Each dietary path has its devoted adherents –
ready to defend their faith to the last spoonful. How can this be, we wonder? Health and fitness are purely a physical,
factual matter– are they not? Yet
people speak in terms of guilt, shame and taboo when they talk about eating.
What is the deeper message in all of this from the Heavenly prospective? Is it
only weight control or is there a more profound meaning to this diet
First, let us take a
moment to think about just how many facets of
life reflect occupation or preoccupation with food. Eating and drinking are primary pleasures
that have generated a multi billion dollar industry. Today, there is virtually
no taste experience that is not available to the kosher consumer and so all of
the gustatory adventures available to
the world at large are open to observant
Jews as well.
Inspired by the media and the merchandizing
masters, the average person spends a startling percentage of his or her waking
hours, buying, preparing and eating food and drinking beverages. In reaction, many will then invest additional
time learning to resist temptation. If
we add to these figures the amount of time and effort spent on learning to live
with food allergies and combating eating
disorders we can easily see how some
enormous percent of time and energy is
spent in these pursuits.
Thus, dieting has a tremendous mass appeal because
it meets the diverse needs of large numbers of people.
Let us return to our
original question. What is it about diet
–whether elective or mandated by an
allergy or condition–that has become such a preoccupying factor in people’s lives? Perhaps this phenomenon is a
preparatory precursor to the time, in the hopefully not too distant future,
when the Creator will impose a new world order known as the “birth pangs” of
the world’s redeemer (Mashiach) bringing with it a new state of higher
consciousness for all mankind. Yet to achieve this new state of consciousness
there will have to be a refocus upon things spiritual. How can this happen we may wonder when we
spend so much time pursuing materialistic goals. How will we ever willingly
follow principles that are linked to spirituality which require the dedication
of considerable time and effort?
Society’s preoccupation with food and specifically
with dieting is perhaps a part of the Divine solution to this question. For there is nothing like a diet to train a
person in the skills needed to achieve
the discipline of following rules established by someone other than
themselves and experience the humility
of trying to overcome obstacles.
Instilling belief: Dieting works best when the
dieter believes in his or her chosen diet.
Changing life long eating habits is challenging and for most that challenge can only be met when the
dieter is persuaded that the diet will completely overhaul and change his or
Disciplined Action: Once convinced of the virtues
of a particular way of eating, the
dieter is willing to weigh every mouthful, go miles out of the way to find
certified organic foods, eat only
according to a rigid schedule and learn to tolerate the physiological and
psychological challenges that are a part
of the process.
Reaping the Rewards: When dieters
painstakingly follow their diet plan, they experience the
“good feeling” that comes
with gaining control and mastery over
their desires. Indeed, weight control may be their first experience of
self imposed discipline and restriction which leads them towards
Let us bring that intuition into focus and look at
it more closely.
Towards a Universal Diet:
The new age goals of fitness and health
are very important to many of us.
Whether prodded by their fears of gaining or losing weight, of becoming
ill or of showing the signs of
aging, many of us are willing to spend
time and effort studying and investigating competing dietary claims and
adhering to restrictive dietary regimens.
Many are willing to swallow the inflated costs of buying
organic foods and nutritional
supplements and endure strenuous and often monotonous exercise regimens.
For the health advocate, a profound yet practical
benefit of these programs is an enhanced
awareness of the significance of these
actions. This awareness can lead to an heightened level of
consciousness that will incorporate self control and discipline into many other
facets of their lives. However
this is only the beginning. May we soon
see the day that we who had previously
weighed and measured our portions, are weighing and measuring the consequences of our
actions; monitoring and directing our thoughts and emotions in accordance with the Creator’s guidelines.
We will then be able to “exercise” our free will to choose to fulfill the
Creator’s will (mitzvoth and ma’asim tovim). These acts of Divine service will
then serve as spiritual “wings” for us to reach new supernal heights. This
elevation of the consciousness will also empower us to resist ephemeral
temptations as we will then see life from an ethereal position and understand the futility of pursuing
temporal goals and ambitions as an end unto themselves.
Therefore, we need not despair for
the Creator has already embedded within the mundane activities of this
world the potential for reconnecting with Hashem. May we all
merit to see the final redemption (geulah) soon in our days.
All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia