“No flour, no Torah; no Torah, no flour.” – Pirkei Avot 3:21
Be punctilious in presenting to Me at stated times My offering, My food, as offerings by fire of pleasing odor to Me.
- Numbers 28:1
In many religions, worshippers demonstrate their fealty to a god through food offerings. The reasons for doing so vary considerably. Often, it is because the god is believed to crave certain foods or be hungry.
Long passages in the Torah are concerned with the proper preparation of the offerings of God’s food and their presentation at the appropriate times in the correct manner. Judaism, however, rejects the notion that God relates to food in the manner of human beings or requires food for sustenance. Our Sages use midrash to makes this point in several ways:
By interpreting a biblical verse: “If I were hungry, I would not tell you (Ps. 50:12). For Me, this implies, there is neither eating nor drinking.” (Bamidbar Rabbah 21:16)
Through reasoning: “The things I create do not require the products I create from them. Have you ever heard that people should say: ‘Give this vine plenty of wine so that it may yield an abundance of wine?’ Or, ‘Give the olive-tree oil so that it may yield much oil?’ If the things that I create do not require the products I create from them, will I require the things that I have created?” (BR 21:17).
Combining the two: If you assume that I eat and drink, you may learn otherwise from Moses [on Mount Sinai]. See what is written about him: And he was there with the Lord for forty days and forty nights; he neither atet bread, nor drank water. (BR 21:16)
In eating, we are not mirroring God’s activity, even when the food is wonderful and is consumed at one of the biblically specified times for offerings, such as the festivals of Passover and Sukkot. Careful preparation of foods with pleasing smells, like a freshly-baked cake or pie, might remind us that love of God is very good.
"The Torah begins and ends with acts of loving kindness."
– Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 14aTake me to the Torah Morsels Archive