Moon Over Maui

A Jewish Mystical Journey through the Year

What Are You Eating?

Written By: Jueli Garfinkle - Jan• 30•12

Your interaction with what and how you eat during this moon cycle of Shevat increases healing,  according to the Sefer Yetzirah. Not the nutritious healing that the modern medical establishment has been drilling into us for years. Nor the healing your critical voice may have been harping about for even longer! Healing by eating during the moon cycle of Shevat occurs on a deeper level.


Most of our healthy habits and choices around consumption rely on some aspect of will: “Eat this; don’t eat that.” “This is good for me; this isn’t.” But for true and lasting affect, you must “listen to this advice: heal your soul at its source and don’t just rely on self-control,” says Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, of blessed memory (To Heal the Soul, p. 8).

Shevat provides the opportunity to do just that! The key: awareness and gratitude.

When the Israelites made a mass exodus across the desert, fleeing their constricted lives as Egyptian slaves, they were super hungry and thirsty. But there was no food in the desert, nor time to prepare it. For nourishment and hydration, they were dependent on the Divine—a miracle! Small round balls that tasted like honey doughnuts, and looked like coriander and mustard seeds, fell from the sky day after day. Each morning (with the exception of Shabbat), they were only allowed to take enough for that one day (The Living Torah, Kaplan, p. 339).

For most of us, modern day circumstances aren’t as obviously dire. For some, such as the poor, sick, or homeless, it is more apparent. But even those of us who are living in relative (or excessive) comfort rely on the Divine—a miracle!—when it comes to our food. The resources required every day to grow food, bring food into our homes, to cook, serve, eat, and digest food is a Divine miracle. But we forget!

Instead, most of us walk into a restaurant or a market, order and buy what we want, and consume it with relatively little awareness.

Throughout the moon cycle of Shevat, return to the basic hunger and gratitude of our history’s earlier times. Use this moon cycle to wake yourself up again and again—meal after meal—to the miracle of food. To the gratitude of being satisfied. To eat healthy meals, or indulgent desserts, or satisfying snacks with awareness and gratitude. To use this moon cycle of Shevat to “heal your soul at its source.”

A daily practice (Try it if you want!): I’ve never before cooked with or eaten coriander or mustard seeds, but this moon cycle I have a small dish of them in the center of my table to remind me of the “gift of food” that comes from the Divine. (The food that fell from the sky in the Egyptian desert most closely resembled coriander and mustard seeds.) Before each meal, I sprinkle a little pinch of them on my meal. It wakes me up a little, reminds me to only eat as much as I need for that one meal, to satisfy my hunger for that one “day.” And then, when a little pop of coriander randomly fills my mouth with taste, I’m reminded again to: breath, connect with myself, with the Divine, with the miracle (!) of food, and deep gratitude that I’m able to consume it. I take a moment of respite: One inhalation. One exhalation.

Before I eat anything this month, I am trying to remember to say aloud a blessing (even if it is barely a whisper). Sometimes, the blessing is brief, such as: “Thank you.” Often, it is longer. It can be in any language. But, according to the Kabbalists, if you say a blessing before and after you consume anything, the light of healing increases within you and in the world. (Eating as Tikun, Schneider.)

Please note: Flanking any neutral act, such as eating, with blessings increases healing in the world. Later in the moon cycle I will write about this practice, which was taught to me by Sarah Yehudit Schneider in the Old City of Jerusalem. May you eat with gratitude and awareness, and may your nights and days be filled with healing and light.

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