In honor of Shavuos, my top five
Ah... Shavuos. Just the thought of the meal planning makes me want to burst out in song:
“Cheesecake and ice cream and crisp apple strudels
Doughnuts fried in butter, cheese kugel with noodles
Watermelon-mint-salad à la feta cheeeeese
These are a few of my favorite things!”
Part of our frum lives are those “Yemay Mishteh,” where eating takes on an even greater role and focus in the Jewish spiritual experience.
In honor of Shavuos, here are my TOP FIVE eating days on the kosher calendar.
In addition to the regular mitzvah of eating to enhance Yom Tov, Shavuos was a time when we couldn’t cook, and instead ate cold leftover pasta and congealed pizza. With shloshim yom kodem hachag to experiment with new recipes, get ready to share some culinary experiences with your daf yomi shiur. After all, getting in shape for kabbalas haTorah requires some sustenance.
2. Erev Yom Kippur
Perhaps the best example of eating for a mitzvah, Erev Yom Kippur is the triple word score of eating l’Sheim Shamayim!
Every lick of a lolly, bite of banana and sip of coffee should be preceded by a hineni muchan u’mezuman with a fervor typically reserved for “Baruch Shepatrani.” The opposite of “eat and be merry for tomorrow we die,” we eat, drink and are mesamei’ach, so that tomorrow we may fast.
Just make sure not to lose focus... there can be a downside to eating a kielbasa wrapped in dough, deep fried, dusted with sugar, covered in syrup and topped with fried onions. Or so I’m told.
3. Motzaei Pesach
All of Am Yisrael lines up — men, women, and children. Excitement fills the air and shouts of joy and jubilation enhance the anticipation of a nation. Slowly the line inches forward, one by one, until suddenly the sea of humanity parts! You’re at the front! Without a moment’s hesitation, seizing the moment, you lift your voice and shout, “TWO PIES, TWO LARGE FRIES!”
You return to the tumultuous home a conquering hero, having braved the Motzaei Pesach pizza pandemonium and emerged victorious with the spoils of chometz to share. A gutten zimmer.
The sun dawns on a house of discarded costumes, half full (half empty?) bottles of wine, and thousands of random food items, once carefully thematically arranged by friends and neighbors, now jumbled together in cardboard boxes and laundry baskets. As we turn our focus from Purim to Pesach, the mitzvah of tashbisu looms larger than life, and the race begins! The timer is ticking as baked goods, candies, chocolates, and wafer rolls are waiting to be consumed, and the cleaning help is politely refusing the 475 half boxes of pasta from the pantry. Ingenuity abounds as we create masterpieces of chometz from multiple packages of unidentifiable foods, braving the wrath of children for the sake of avoiding bal tashchis.
“But you love Mommy’s chocolate pasta cake, Avrumi! It’s even better than my non-dairy veggie-burger muffin!”
The mitzvah of post-Purim food consumption is not a sprint, but rather a battle of endurance and wits, with special recognition going to whomever has a contact at the local kollel coffee room.
5. Today, and Every Day
The diets abound. Intermittent fasting. South Beach and Atkins, Optavia, Keto, Paleo, and Kollel.
(My daily approach to weight loss is seldom about burning more calories and is laser focused on frantically avoiding the insides of bagels).
Whatever diet you may or may not be trying, this Yom Tov, as we concentrate on Kabbalas HaTorah and reinvigorating the mitzvah of kashrus, don’t forget that our unique ability to elevate our food — with our kosher diet — is part of the gift Hashem gave us on Shavuos. So raise an iced Frappuccino in honor of yourself — for still keeping The Kosher Diet, after all these thousands of years, just as it was gifted to us originally. Chag samei’ach.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 860)
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