There is a food to go with every Jewish holiday, and something to eat at every Jewish occasion, except on fast days, when the primary focus of the day also on food: just not to eat any.
What does that say about Judaism? We’ve been called the thinkers’ religion. At any moment, walk into a local synagogue and you’ll find Jews of all stripes and colors sitting and learning, books open before them as they try to pry open the secrets of the Divine. What can be more characteristic of Judaism than the deeply meditative and mystical prayer services on Shabbat morning, and then hearing and learning about the weekly Torah portion?
And yet: Who can imagine those services not being followed by a kiddush, highlighted by herring, sponge cake, a shot of schnapps and a tasty cholent? What place do gefilte fish and potato kugel have in a religion permeated by and rooted in spirituality and the divine?
If you’ve ever found this perplexing, then Chabad.org’s latest course is your guide.
Food & Faith: Is Eating the Secret to a More Spiritual Life? is a four-week online course beginning May 15, 2018, in which Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, popular Chabad.org teacher and spiritual leader of Chabad Flamingo, north of Toronto, explores the spiritual dimension of food and eating from many perspectives, rooted in an impressive array of Biblical, Talmudic, and Kabbalistic texts.
The first module, “In the Beginning There Was Supper,” surveys the links between spiritual pursuits and gastronomic experiences from Adam and Eve to Isaac and Jacob, all the way through the Prophets and beyond.
The second class, “Soul Food,” uncovers the Divine source of different foods and the impact that they make on our souls.
“The Meat of the Issue” explores questions like: How come some parts of a kosher animal are not spiritually uplift-able and forbidden to eat? What happens if we eat non-kosher? And most importantly, why should we care?
Finally, “Sacred Consumption” tackles the the big questions of what makes eating so Jewish, what that means for our lives.
Throughout the course, Kaplan shows how the Jewish “obsession” with food is intricately connected to the very essence of our purpose on this world.
“That’s why we created the course,” says Chabad.org’s Rabbi Yaakov Kaplan, producer of the course. “Food is such an integral part of the human experience. We wanted to shed light on the unique Jewish approach to food so that people can further appreciate the spiritual aspect of eating, and make meal time more mindful.”
So if you want to understand what this Jewish obsession with food is all about, sign up today.