Soul Food


Food for the Soul

By Chaim Lazer

The holidays are special time that we can utilize to recharge our depleted spiritual side and get closer to our source. Each holiday has a special contribution to make to our spiritual and physical well being. What is the specialness of our Jewish holidays that give us this special spiritual energy recharging? And why does this occur only at these special times?

In order to explain all of this, we must first tell a humorous story that will illustrate the point:

Once there was a very poor man. He hardly had any food to eat. Each day he would eat the same food, bread and a slice of onion. He dreamed of eating chicken or meat, but he was so poor that this dream was far from reality.

One day an acquaintance told him that his brother, a very wealthy man who lived in a nearby village was marrying off his only son in two weeks. The poor man was overjoyed. Imagine, if a wealthy man makes a wedding for his only son, what kind of food will be served!!!

The poor fellow was elated to think that finally he will have his change to eat all of the tasty delicacies that his heart could image. He spent his day dreaming of eating a delicious juicy chicken with a mushroom sauce, rice pilaf, and tasty and expensive wine.

Each day he would run to the mailbox to see if an invitation came. Each day he was disappointed. No invitation! As the last week arrived, the man decided that he would not eat so much food in order that his stomach should be ready for the big festive banquet. Each day in happy anticipation the man would only eat half of his normal portion of bread and onion. He would put the bread and onion away as savings in a special box.

But each day he would check the postbox for mail to see if the invitation came. But day after day, it was dissapointing. No invitation came! As the big day of the wedding approached and no wedding invitation was received, he began to feel despondent, and later depressed.

Final the day of the wedding arrived. The invitation must be coming today! In anticipation of the invitation, he decided to give his stomach extra room for the special delights that the wedding meal was certain to bring. His essence was waiting for the mail delivery. Certainly the invitation would be forth coming.

But alas and alack, the mailman came in the early afternoon and went, but no invitation! The poor fellow was broken! His brother had forgotten him. He felt completely broken. How could his brother forget him? Sure he was totally poor, lacking all, but still, his brother, with all his great wealth couldn't be a snob! How could he forget? But - still - he was forgot!

Saddened and depressed, hungry and dissapointed, he came into his poverty stricken kitchen and opened the box with the stale bread and onion. What was left for him in this world? Deprived of the tasty food at the wedding banquet, he began to eat the dry bread. With tears in his eyes, he imagined the people at the wedding, how they would enjoy roast meat and barbecued chicken, tasty rice and potatoes. His tears flowed and he drowned his sorrow in the leftover bread and onion.

What could he do. He had starved himself for a week to have room in his stomach for an Epicurean delight that never materialized. Now he filled his stomach with the poor man's bread.

After the poor man finished his meal, stuffing himself till he could not eat any more, he put his head down and began crying. Suddenly he heard a honk beeping from outside. He lifted up his head to see who was making such a racket. Through the window he saw an elegant Rolls-Royce. Behind the wheel was none other than his brother!

"Come on, come on!" his brother shouted, "I on the way to pick up the bride. Let's go!!"

The poor fellow staggered to the curb, stunned at seeing his brother at the curb. "What? I don't understand?"

"What's the problem?" his brother asked. "Do you need clothing? Here's a couple of suits, shirts and ties. Take what you like, take them all but let's move. I'm late and I have to pick up the bride now!"

"B-b-but, I didn't get an invitation?" the poor fellow offered as explanation of his reluctance.

"Invitation? Who sends close family invitations? People that I don't know so well, I send invitations. But you, you're my brother. Do I have to send you an invitation? For certain you're coming. Would I make a wedding and now invite you, my own brother? Don't be silly, change your clothes and hop into the car. You are part of the family wedding party!"

Well this poor fellow was stunned. He quickly ran into the house and changed. Sitting in the car, he now felt doubly depressed. All the food that he had dreamed of eating was there waiting for him; but what could he do? He was stuffed to the gills!

Outside the wedding hall, he tried inserting his finger in his throat and vomiting. But it didn't help. What could he do? He tried jingling his stomach to settle his stuffed stomach. But he had no appetite.

What could be done. He expended his appetite on stale bread and now he had no desire and no room for additional food. Instead of eating tasty delicacies, he was eating himself.


The stomach and head have one thing in common. When they are full they can not be occupied by other things. When the stomach has in it a poor quality of food, a new batch of tasty morsels can not be introduced. The same is true of the head. When the head is busy with the mundane thoughts of the worldly existence it can not be occupied with other ideas, no matter how lofty and beautiful they may be.

As we involve ourselves in the daily routine of making money, buying that which we need, and doing all those activities that we need so much for our daily lives we begin to lose track of the real reason we are here. We need the physical worldly goods to support our spiritual souls, but in doing so, we begin to lose perspective and slowly we sink into making the physical the main part of our lives and the spiritual just a background need.

Our holidays are not just a time for "fressing" (stuffing one's stomach). It is a time for rededication to lofty spiritual goals. Each holiday has its special emphasis. When we have the time to relax from the busy rat race of daily life, we can sink our being into being a spiritual creature and not just a pack rat focused on daily physical needs.

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