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  • Torah Reading: Naso
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Elul 14

They will eat them [the offerings] and will be forgiven (Exodus 29:33).

How can eating serve as an atonement?

My father used to tell of a tzaddik who was staying at an inn. One morning when they served the breakfast cereal, he said, "This is unusually good. Is there any more?" After being served a second portion, he again asked for more, ate it, and continued to request more cereal until he was told that it was all gone.

The tzaddik's disciples were bewildered. Their teacher usually ate barely enough for survival. When they asked him why he had deviated from his usual practice, he explained:

"When I first tasted the cereal, I realized that the cook must have by mistake poured kerosene into the pot instead of oil. I know that she is a poor widow, and that this innkeeper happens to be a very irascible person. If this mistake had been discovered, she would surely have been dismissed. I therefore wished to avoid anyone else tasting the cereal and exposing the problem."

Eating only to satisfy one's appetite obviously cannot constitute forgiveness, but it is possible to eat with other motivations, which can make it an act of Divine service. We may not all be capable of an act such as that of the tzaddik, but if we can bring ourselves to the point where we truly eat for nutrition, in order that we have the strength to function optimally, so that we may do with our lives that which God wants of us, then our eating, too, can be a Divine service.

Today I shall...

try to make eating an act of Divine service, dedicating myself to do the will of God.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

May 21, 2009

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