Printed from kabbalaonline.org
Active meditation emanates G-dliness; passivity only reinforces the ego

Food for a Holy Table

Food for a Holy Table

Beginner Beginner
 Email
Food for a Holy Table
Active meditation emanates G-dliness; passivity only reinforces the ego

Prayer, i.e. our thanks, praises, and petitions to G‑d is part of what is called "Avodat Hashem", service of G‑d, as is our eating and drinking when it is designed to help us serve G‑d better. Nowadays, our table fulfills the mystical dimensions of what used to be the Temple service…

Nowadays, our table fulfills the mystical dimensions of what used to be the Temple service. Instead of the sacrificial offerings being consumed at the altar, we consume our meals after and before benedictions expressing our awareness of He Who supplies our needs.

We become like angels when the food we consume is of the right kind and we consume it in a state of sanctity. Just as physical food gives us our continued existence on earth, so do our souls serve as "sustenance" for the angels and assure their continued existence. We know that the angels need to feed on something, as is written, "You provide sustenance for them all." (Nehemiah 9:6)

Human beings' consumption of food, however, can become similar to the spiritual forces released by the offering of sacrifices. This is the reason why the Torah links the saying of Blessing After the Meal to the gift of Eretz Israel and its goodness (Deut. 8:10). The reference is not to terrestrial Eretz Yisrael. [If this were so, why should we have to say the Blessing After the Meal for food consumed in the Diaspora? Ed.] The mystical element involved is that the celestial Eretz Yisrael is perceived as the top of the domains of the emanations, the tenth sefira of Atzilut. The overriding consideration to remember is that sacrificial service was an expression of our reverence for G‑d

The Zohar in the Parashat Ekev (Sulam edition page 18), describes the ten rules governing the way in which we must consume our meals as an allusion to this tenth sefira. [These rules are based on the Shabbat Eve meal. Ed.] The ten rules comprise:

1) washing one's hands
2) preparing two whole loaves of bread
3) consuming three meals
[in the course of Shabbat]
4) lighting a candle on the table to symbolize the candles in the Temple which stood next to the table with the showbreads
5) the benediction of VaYechulu
("…the heavens and the earth were completed…") over a cup of wine
6) speaking words of Torah during the meal
7) ensuring that poor people are invited to the meal
8) washing one's hands prior to reciting Grace
9) reciting the Blessing After the Meal
10) drinking the wine of the cup upon which the Blessing After the Meal was recited.

[The author may have intimated a subsequent part of the Zohar in which ten rules are listed governing eating on weekdays, including such details as which hand to wash first, which hand has to raise the bread, not to eat hastily, etc. Ed.]

Just as there are ten rules, pertaining to eating, there are also the laws governing the way the cup of wine over which the Blessing After the Meals is said is to be held, to be drunk, etc. The important thing to remember is that our eating is the substitute for the sacrifice and our table is the substitute for the altar. The overriding consideration to remember is that sacrificial service was an expression of our reverence for G‑d.

[Translated by Eliyahu Munk.]

Eliyahu Munk, the translator, was born in Frankfurt, and emigrated to England as a young man, later moving to Toronto. After retiring from education and moving to Israel in 1978, he began an extraordinary second career as a translator, publishing English versions of the Torah commentaries of Rabbeinu Bechayei, Akeidat Yitzchak, Shelah, Alshich and Ohr Hachaim.
Rabbi Isaiah HaLevi Horowitz [5320/1560 - 11 Nissan 5390/1630] served many years as chief rabbi in Frankfurt and then Prague, his birthplace. In 1621 he moved to Israel and became the chief rabbi of Jerusalem. He is best known as the author of Shenei Luchot HaBrit, a work of Scripture commentary and Jewish Law, and is usually referred to as "the SHeLaH", the acronym of its title.
He lived the last years of his life in Tzefat although his burial place is in Tiberias, only a few meters from the tomb of the Rambam. It is a popular pilgrimage site, especially on Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan, which he himself recommended as a propitious time for saying the special prayer for success in educating one’s children that he composed.
 Email
Join the discussion
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (3)
November 25, 2010
Like the article points out:
"We become like angels when the food we consume is of the right kind and we consume it in a state of sanctity." The angels' substance is from our souls, not our prayers.
webmaster
kabbalaonline.org
November 25, 2010
Angels
something's missing. i'm not sure whether the angels are fed when we eat correctly, or if they feed on our prayers, or we become like angels when we eat correctly.
A.
kabbalaonline.org
October 24, 2010
your website
thank you for bringing your teaching into my home.
paula
montague , cal,usa
kabbalaonline.org
Related Topics

The larger, bold text is the direct translation of the classic text source.

The smaller, plain text is the explanation of the translator/editor.
Text with broken underline will provide a popup explanation when rolled over with a mouse.