Food porn.

This entry was posted in Beliefs, History on by .

Earlier today, Tamar called out the Hasidic community in Williamsburg for, well, defacing advertisements for restaurants that are seen as “excessive” and “indulgent.”

slashed hasidic restaurant sign in williamsburg

I don’t agree — and, of course, in one permutation this isn’t about food at all but about free speech (and, uh, derekh eretz, which means not breaking the laws of the land in which you live) — but there’s a way that I really can see their point. Hasidism (which, by the way, we have a great article about here) used to be about limiting the outside world, focusing on the relationship between the individual person and God.

Asceticism wasn’t a part of it, but not focusing on material wealth was definitely prime. It wasn’t hated or reviled — it just wasn’t supposed to be the kind of thing you spend too much time worrying about. Make sure you have a house, some food, some pocket change for books and the new Matisyahu album, and you’re set. Now you can focus on the important stuff. If you can afford more, great — just don’t lose sight of God and your family.

These days, among both Hasidism and the Jewish community in general, people spend significantly more time making money than praying. It’s understandable — God always forgives us; our stomachs don’t — but I’ve been the guilty party to speeding through praying because we have, say, a 6:00 sharp reservation at Levana’s. I’m a foodie as much as the next person, and I do love the aesthetics and the luxury of it — but I have to admit, I’ve become like the anonymous person in the story:

The rabbi sat at the table, a great banquet arranged before him. He invited his guests in, and they all sat around, ready to dig in. The rabbi, however, waited a long time, eyes closed in concentration. Finally, his foremost disciple interrupted him. “Rabbi!” he said. “The food is getting cold!”

The rabbi turned to him and said: “We are eating now.”

The student said, “With all respect, Rabbi, we’re not. The food is sitting here, and soon it will be cold. We need to say the prayers and eat now.”

The rabbi answered him: “Then, for you, this banquet is nothing. You say the prayers in order to eat. I eat in order that I may say a prayer.”

Posted on October 13, 2008

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

2 thoughts on “Food porn.

Comments are closed.

Privacy Policy