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Shlach(Numbers 13-15)

The See-Food Diet

I remember many years ago, as a little boy, watching our dog, Krishna, as he wolfed down his Pedigree Chum dog food. I was impressed by how excited he was, to the extent that he basically sucked it from the can and into his stomach without it seemingly touching the inside of his mouth.

As a young boy, there could only be one conclusion: It was the most wonderfully delicious food in existence. And of course, I had to try it. And so I did. It was not the most disgusting meal of my life - I think that octopus was worse, back in my pre-kosher days - but I did throw up afterwards and it was not a particularly pleasant experience.

In this week's portion, we are commanded not to "follow our eyes." The eyes see and the heart desires, the Sages tell us. What's missing in the middle of all that? The mind, of course. It's so easy for our eyes to see something and our heart to desire it and for us then to make a decision without even thinking about it.

My eyes see Pedigree Chum. My heart desires it. I forget to consult my mind, which would of course remind me that our dog also enjoyed eating rats in the back garden - and that perhaps our taste buds were programmed differently. But no, my eyes saw, my heart desired, and next thing I knew, it was horsemeat for dinner.

This is an extreme example. But our lives are rife with this stuff. The eyes see cheesecake. The heart desires it. Into the mouth it goes - forgetting the fact the body is on a diet because the mind was never consulted. The eyes see something new to buy. The heart desires it. Out comes the credit card, ignoring the fact that there is no money in the bank. The eyes see a beautiful woman. The heart desires her. Out of the window go responsibility, commitment, marriage and a whole lot more.

Don't follow your eyes, the Torah tells us. Follow your mind instead. Your eyes might lead to immediate gratification. But your mind is an infinitely better judge of what will ultimately make you happy.

Published: June 14, 2008

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Anonymous, June 12, 2014 11:55 AM

This is really excellent! Thank you so much for posting it!

(5) Cyndi, June 17, 2011 2:36 PM

the heart can be deceitful

What a great analogy! It made me laugh AND think! Sometimes it's better to NOT learn from our mistakes, by not making them in the first place.

(4) Missy, June 17, 2011 9:10 AM

Pet Food

Hey, I think there must be something to that pet food eating. I saw a box of cat food when I was younger and did the same thing. The name of the food was "Crave" I believe LOL, I only remember the yellow box and the fact that I almost puked my guts out. As we age and study G-d's word, we learn to use our brains and add them to the road between eyes, heart, etc. Unfortunately, I don't think that some people ever get that your brain is involved in that equation, and I believe that is why we have the problems in our society that we do.

(3) Anonymous, May 31, 2010 8:39 PM

Into the mouths of babes

This story reminded me of the time my just crawling baby got into the cat's food. I found her on the kitchen floor helping herself from the cat's dish while the cat sat and watched. In panic I called the pediatrician and described the event to him. He asked me did the catfood harm the cat. Upon my saying no he then told me it wouldn't harm the baby. The only lesson I learned from this was to put the catdish out of the baby's reach.

(2) Anonymous, June 18, 2009 9:55 PM

Things I once wanted but am glad I didn't get

My prayers include thanks for a whole list of things & people that I thought I just had to have at one time in my life and am now so grateful that I didn't get.

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