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Health, Nutrition & Torah: Beha’alotecha

| May 26, 2010

Courtesy Alexander Smolianitski (http://flickr.com/photos/smolianitski/)

Courtesy Alexander Smolianitski (http://flickr.com/photos/smolianitski/)

The Text:
11:4 “The riffraff in their midst felt a gluttonous craving; and then the Israelites wept and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat!’”

11:8 “The people would go about and gather it, grind it between millstones or pound it in a mortar, boil it in a pot, and make it into cakes…when the dew fell on the camp at night the manna would fall upon it.”

The Context:
This portion details the final preparations for the use of the tabernacle (the portable sanctuary) and the plans for the Israelites’ travel. Throughout their travels, God provides sustenance through the manna, which meets all of Israel’s nutritional needs. The manna is a beautiful example of God’s providing Presence. Food literally falls from the sky – yet the Israelite reaction is ingratitude. They quickly begin to complain about their living and traveling conditions, and their craving leads them to fantasize nostalgically about the food they enjoyed in Egypt.

What it Means for Advocates:
Malnutrition is the largest single contributor to disease, according to the UN’s Standing Committee on Nutrition. Food programs require assistance to offer nutritious meals to the hungry.

It is a great challenge to learn about the nutritional needs of individuals. Check out the USDA nutritional pyramid online at MyPyramid.gov.
 Design a set of three meals for a family of six, two adults, one senior citizen, two children and an infant. If a food pantry were to provide for their nutritional needs, what would their shopping bag need to include?

Food quality is also an issue for food banks. Go to the store and bring two reusable shopping bags. For every item you purchase for yourself, buy the same item for another family to enjoy! Learn about your own nutrition while providing for another family.

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