For an explanation of the methodology of this series, see the introduction.

"You shall not eat over the blood. You shall not act on the basis of omens or lucky hours." (Lev. 19:26)

Peshat (basic meaning):

Rashi: "You shall not eat over the blood"
[This verse is] expounded in many different ways : (a) It is a warning that one must not eat from the flesh of holy sacrifices before the dashing of the blood; (b) It is a warning against eating from a non-sacrificial animal before its soul-force [contained in its blood] has [fully] departed; etc.

"You shall not act on the basis of omens"
like those who interpret [the sounds or actions of] a weasel or birds as omens [for good or bad], or [like those who interpret] bread falling from his mouth or a deer crossing his path [as signs for certain things].

"You shall not act on the basis of lucky hours"
[The expression ’lucky hours’] denotes seasons and hours, that one would say, ’Such and such a day is auspicious to begin your work,’ or, ’Such and such an hour is unlucky to embark [on a journey].’

Remez (hinted meaning):

Baal HaTurim: "you shall not eat over the blood"
is juxtaposed to the passage of orla (verses 23-25) to hint that just as one can't eat food without saying a blessing, so too one can't eat orla-- fruits of a tree under 4 years' old—without their redemption.

Also: juxtaposed to "you shall not eat over the blood" is "you shall not practice divination," which hints that eating should not be employed as a means of divination, in the manner of murderers who eat bread over the victim so that the redeemers of the victim—namely his relatives—will not be able to avenge his murder.

Derash (interpretive meaning):

Ramban states that there was a form of sorcery which called for a person to be killed and his blood poured in a pit. According to the sorcerers, this would attract demons who would join them for a meal and inform them of future events. (cited by the Baal HaTurim in HaTur HaAroch)

...Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge before its period of orla had expired.

Ohr HaChayim: This appears near the commandment oforlasince Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge before its period of orla had expired. All Adam had to do was to wait until Shabbat. He could have then said Kiddush on wine, which was the Tree of Knowledge. This is the mystical dimension of the statement (Sanhedrin 38) that Adam was pulling on his own orla[foreskin]: he was not as yet permitted fruit, and he was impatient. That is why the Torah writes this commandment of orlanext to "do not eat with the blood," meaning "do not eat of the fruit of the Tree because it is still Orla, causing blood," as all bloodshed in the world originated when Adam ate from the Tree too early.

Sod (esoteric, mystical meaning):

Zohar Vayakhel 215:
He opened the discourse with the verse, "You shall not eat anything with the blood, neither shall you use enchantment nor soothsaying". (Lev. 19:26) This was explained, but its secret is this: whoever eats without praying for his blood [i.e. his life-force] is considered as if he practices divination and soothsaying.

For at night the soul mounts and gazes upon the mystery of the supernal glory, each according to its merits. Man is sustained by the power that permeates the blood and preserves the body. Therefore he tastes death, for the strength is not able to awaken to the power of the soul and receive it. For that reason, when man awakens he is not pure. We already explained that the Other Side has power over a place vacant of soul.

After washing himself with water, though he is occupied in the Torah, the Neshama is not kept in its place nor rules man, only the power of the blood alone does, which is called Nefesh. The Nefesh always permeates the blood, as we already explained. And when a man prays, worshipping his Master, then the power of the blood resumes its place, and the power of the Neshama is strengthened, so it settles in that place. Then a man is properly perfected before his Master, the Nefesh below and, the inner matter, the Neshama, above.

Therefore, whoever prays before eating is considered to be in a good position. The Neshama mounts to settle in its place as ought. But if he eats before praying, causing the blood to settle in its place, he is considered a diviner and a soothsayer. Because it is the way of the diviner to elevate the Other Side and humiliate the holy side.

Why is a man who tried to please that side, an enchanter [in Hebrew, ‘menachesh’]? Since he worked hard for that serpent [in Hebrew, ‘nachash’] to raise its power and strength. It is like one worshipping other gods, serving the power of the blood, not G‑d, by strengthening the side of the Neshama, the holy side.

"A diviner" worked towards sins and did not place his effort for merits. And if you say that there is an extra Nun in the middle it is assuredly so, for we cannot have power over the Other Side, only when we mix in it a little from the holy side, as a thin thread. Whoever wishes for a lie to endure should mix some truth in it, so the lie will prevail. Therefore, a sin is a lie and in order to keep it intact, some truth is added. This is the meaning of Nun, to keep the lie. He who does not pray for his blood [i.e. for himself] before G‑d before eating is considered a diviner and soothsayer.

...we are all holy creatures, soul-full ones, imprisoned in a physical world,...

BeRahamim LeHayyim:
"We are spirits, living in a material world."

The above Zohar is related to the Halacha prohibiting eating in the morning until after saying the Amidah. That is how "You shall not eat over the blood" is interpreted. That is because we are spirits living in material world. Though it may not seem like it, we are all holy creatures, soul-full ones, imprisoned in a physical world, a world of falsity. We don't eat on Yom Kippur—because we don't need to! According to the mystical intentions, we are being nourished by our Supernal Mother's voices, 5 voices in fact, related to eating and drinking, anointing ourselves with oil, wearing shoes, and having marital relations. The other 364 days we have to fight 'HaSaTa”N', gematria 364, and deal with our sensual and material urges and desires.

If we get up and chow down, we are feeding our physical part first.

That is not spiritually "natural"; rather we need to "sing for our supper" and pray or make a spiritual connection first, then we take care of the body's requisite needs.

This topic is debated. Some say better to eat and then pray because you can concentrate better. Some say you can't eat but you can drink. Some say you can have coffee, in fact some [with a smile] take the word Coffee/ Kuf Vav Hei (gematria 111) and add milk/chalav (gematria 40), totaling 151, the same as immersion/Mikveh, saying that coffee and cream have the same effect as the Mikveh!
As you might have guessed, for years I was a pretty abstemious chap, who let nary a drop of water enter myself.

Getting up at midnight and praying at sunrise with no liquid is mighty hard stuff, even if one tames one's material body [in Hebrew, ‘chomer’] like one does one’s donkey [in Hebrew, ‘chamor’].

Now I have tea, and if I need to, caffeinated at that.

I am not doing my duty if I fall asleep in an eyes'-closed Amidah.

But the point is made, if we were to drink or even eat [as some say], it would have to be to prepare ourselves for the much more important spiritual work that is in front of us, that should be the most important thing in our awakening hours.

Is feeding one's body first like worshipping idols? In the language of the Holy Zohar and Talmud, it is. Perhaps it all depends on intention, on meaningful mindful living in the moment.

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