I really enjoy going grocery shopping with my son, Nadav. It is an opportunity for us to talk about our favorite things to eat, for me to teach him about making healthy food choices and think about how lucky we are to always have enough food. When he turned three, we started to pick out one food item to donate each time we go together to the grocery store. My favorite part of grocery shopping with Nadav is helping him to pick out his donation item. Sometimes he chooses food that he wants to eat, sometimes he chooses food that he thinks is healthy, sometimes he chooses food that he knows a friend of his really likes; he is always excited to share his thoughts on his decision and looks forward to doing this mitzvah each time we go.
Beyond providing our bodies with sustenance, food provides us with many blessings. Sharing a meal helps to facilitate connections with others. It enhances family life and strengthens friendships. Food can also provide common ground, enabling people to come together who are in conflict with each other. Gardeners will agree that growing food is a way to connect with nature and the world around us. Food is also a means for teaching values and passing along traditions.
In the fall months we often think about the blessings of food as we observe the Jewish holidays of Yom Kippur and Sukkot and the American holiday of Thanksgiving. It is a time of year that we usually engage in food collections and are mindful of being thankful for having our own full plates. Jewish tradition gives us an opportunity to remember to be generous with food in the winter and spring as well. One of the mitzvot of Purim is to give gifts of food, both to our friends and to the poor and at Passover we state in the beginning of our seder “Let all who are hungry come to eat.”
In the month of March our school is focusing on the blessings of food. Our students already learn the blessings said over various foods and the blessings said after eating. This month, the students will spend extra time considering how the blessing of having food impacts their lives. They will also be collecting food to donate.
I invite you to consider the blessings of food in your life. I hope you will not only participate in the food drive, but also consider further how you can share the blessings of food with others.