Commentary on Parashat Achrei Mot, Leviticus 16:1 - 18:30
When we think about food, it has become popular to ask: “Do you live to eat or do you eat to live?” Our feelings about food and the choices we make around eating have the ability to say a lot about who we are as people.
This week’s Torah portion, Achrei Mot, contains many rules about the food we eat which are incorporated into our modern system of keeping kosher. There are rules about the types of foods we eat, about how we prepare those foods, and even about when we eat them. This week’s text connects food to the idea of holiness, which might lead us to ask what is holy about food.
It is easy to understand what it means to “eat to live.” We know that we need to take in a certain amount of food to provide energy and keep us healthy. We can also imagine what it means to “live to eat,” to take great pleasure from ingredients, recipes and cuisine. But what does it mean to think about our food choices in terms of holiness? What would it look like for us to make food decisions based on our ethics and values? This could mean the discipline of eating organically or locally, being vegetarian, or keeping kosher. There are lots of ways we can change the way we make our decisions around food, but most important is that we raise our awareness about what we consume.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS about the food choices we make.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
- Where do you fall on the “eat to live” vs. “live to eat” spectrum?
- What do you think about when you decide what to eat?
- Are there any special limitations or choices you make (i.e. vegetarian, gluten free etc.) If so, why?
- How does the discipline, or lack of it, in your food choices affect you?
- How do you think your food choices impact your world?
From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.
Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.