so, on this solemn day of catching up on all the self-flagellation we jews neglect all year, let us once again turn to the deeply spiritual, profound topic of…FOOD! food IS a religion in itself for many people, especially jews. on this holiest of fast days, we especially concentrate our minds and stomachs on the theory of FOOD, if not the actual product. we like to pretend we’re not obsessing over FOOD, the element that no jew can live without for more than five minutes. (bear in mind, i am one, so i can talk. if you are not one, shut up, anti-semite!) food is something that only much of the world, not jews, forgoes on a daily basis, through no choice of their own. to voluntarily give up eating for an entire day is such an alien concept to most jews (not including that invisible minority of actual poor jews that no one wants to acknowledge) that it becomes a huge big deal in the jewish calendar, and in our minds/stomachs on this day. i myself am “not” actually writing a blahgpost about FOOD at this very moment.
so here is my yom kippur 2013 Big Food Insight: most of the food many of us crave is emotional food. it’s a comfort fix. we don’t need it, we just use it to make up for emotional emptiness or need. nothing new or profound there, it’s just that fasting really zeroes in on that aspect for me. i’m not technically in need of calories, i’ve got plenty of backup stored away. but as soon as food isn’t an option for instant alleviation of symptoms, i become very conscious of its nuanced role in my empty daily existence. it temporarily holds a place that would normally be filled with meaningful employment, human interaction, intellectual stimulation, emotional fulfillment, and so on. it never actually supplies or fulfills those needs, it just distracts me from the lack of them. similarly, i use the creative preparation of menus and meals to compensate for the lack of other creative outlets in my current situation. i don’t always get a sense of satisfaction from a job well done or appreciated, but it’s a way to fill empty space and time.
however, even higher up than Food in the jewish pantheon is Health, a big reason that many older jews, including my mother, don’t fast. just the dozens of drugs alone would fill a horse, and naturally you have to eat and drink simultaneously! so off i go to prepare the next meal, which offers a real challenge when you’re fasting.
i haven’t even addressed why i’m fasting at all, when i no longer subscribe to most things jewish. i’m happy and proud NOT to be a ‘once-a-year’ jew, as so many are on the high holy days. so why subject myself to fasting? isn’t it hypocritical? i guess for the same reasons that i stated earlier: it’s a good way to be more conscious and mindful of habits that don’t really ‘fix’ the problem, but just substitute for the solutions. i could get all philosophical and talk about empathy for the majority of the human race who skip meals on a regular basis, something foreign to most jews, but really it boils down to something more close to home. it’s an unproductive habit that needs to get shaken up once in a while.
and one blahgpost closer to dinnertime!