Health, Nutrition & Torah: Matot

| July 7, 2010

The Text:

The Context:

What it Means for Advocates:

The same portion that describes the wanderings of the Israelites delineates the boundaries of the Promised Land and establishes cities of refuge.  Though the journey from slavery to freedom has been long, soon the Israelites will have an opportunity to build a just society.

The Torah teaches that a city without justice is no city.  As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his letter from Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”  If we could apply this consciousness to the injustice of hunger, it would mean that every time we eat, we would insist that hungry people be fed.

In Eastern Europe, a tradition emerged that during great simchas, before the festive meal was enjoyed, the hosts would be sure that the hungry people of the community were fed first.  The Jewish tradition of offering a blessing before the meal makes us conscious of God, who helps provide the food we enjoy.  A further blessing after the meal (Birkat Hamazon) reminds us to give thanks when our bellies our full and our appetites satiated.

In this tradition, next time you host friends at home or share in a public simcha, make a donation to MAZON, or pass a MAZON tzedakah box around the table.

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