Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Food Challenge Day 3

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen

I find myself trying to figure out what exactly this challenge is about for me, and the feeling that I keep returning to as I eat is gratitude, gratitude for the many options I have, for the taste of the food, for having enough food, for eating either with others or alone, for the way my food connects me to the Earth and the sky and so many other people. No matter whether I am eating leisurely or am more rushed, whether I am alone or with others, I keep feeling gratitude. There are other thoughts and feelings, but this one is always there. I joined with a family at dinner this evening that is considering starting to express gratitude before they eat. That, together with my own thoughts, makes me think of the many blessings we have in Jewish tradition for before and after eating. My favorites are the two that feel they connect me best with the plants responsible for bearing the fruit or vegetable I am eating: 
For fruits, whether fresh or dried, from trees, such as apples, oranges, and peaches, as well as grapes, raisins, and nuts (except peanuts):
Blessed are You, Adonai our G!d, Sovereign of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the tree.
For vegetables and greens from the ground, peanuts, legumes, and fruits such as bananas, melons, and pineapples:
Blessed are You, Adonai our G!dSovereign of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the earth.
After eating we also recite blessings. This is the blessing for these same foods:
Blessed are You, Adonai our G!d, Sovereign of the universe, Creator of numerous living beings and their needs, for all the things You have created with which to sustain the soul of every living being. Blessed is He who is the Life of the worlds.
These are the traditional blessings, and they address the core gratitude - G!d, the energy that flows through the universe brings these amazing foods into being, and that same energy, through the hands of many people, bring the foods to my plate. 

Gratitude is a powerful emotion. I have never gone hungry. I have never lacked for options. But I have been known frequently to take for granted what is on my plate and the bounty that is available to me. Gratitude is about not taking it for granted. May it be my will and my practice not to slip back into a state of taking any bite of food for granted. May it be my will and my practice to notice what goes into my mouth and to be grateful for it. 

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