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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Food is one of the main subjects of this week's Torah portion, just as food is one of the main subjects of life. In parashat Eikev, the mitzvah of Birkat Hamazon, the prayer recited after a meal, is first mentioned: "And you will eat and be satisfied -- and you will bless." I once heard Rabbi Miki Yosefi suggest that the Hebrew word for food, מאכל (ma'achal), could be considered an anagram where the mem stands for "mah," the aleph stands for "eich," the kaf stands for "kama" and the lamed stands for "lama." Together, these four words can guide us toward a proper relationship with food.

Mah (what). What goes into our mouths? Is it kosher, healthy, and nutritious?

Eich (how). How do we eat? Ideally, when we are calm and sitting down, and not while we are engaged in a million other pursuits.

Kama (how much). How much do we eat? "And you will eat and be satisfied -- and you will bless." In other words, we need to know when to stop, before we explode -- to take control of food and not allow food to take control of us.

Lama (why). Anyway, why do we eat? So that our bodies will have the strength to do good things. If we have this in mind, if food gives us the energy we need to make the world a better place, then eating becomes a holy act.


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