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Food- Spiritual and Physical

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 18/8/2019

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Food- Spiritual and Physical

Man is comprised of a spiritual as well as a physical side. Thus, the word אדם is composed of the letters א דם, as the א represents the spirituality[1] whereas דם; blood symbolizes the physicality. Food is also comprised of a spiritual part in addition to a physical part. The soul is sustained from the soul in the food while the body is sustained from the physicality of the food. As a result, we are toldכי לא על הלחם לבדו יחיה האדם...; by bread alone man does not live rather by that which emanates from the mouth of Hashem.[2]


The words צדיק אכל לשבע נפשו; a Tzadik eats to satisfy his soul, explains the Siduro Shel Shabbos,[3] means he satiates his soul from the life forces and sparks of Kedusha that is within the food. This is the intent one should have, says the Pele Yoatz.[4] In this way, we can explain why one who gets benefit from this world without reciting a Bracha is regarded as if he stole…since he takes the Kedusha and destroys it, by not elevating it.[5]


Explains R’ Chaim Voloziner,[6] food is what connects the body and soul since it contains spiritual and physical components. On the other hand, Torah and Tefila which is exclusively spiritual, one cannot live on since there is no physicality to it.


Prior to the sin of Adam, the food was only spiritual as the Gemara illustrates.[7] However, after the sin of Adam, food became a mixture of good and bad. That is, in the food itself, in addition to the peels which is not in the actual food. While we are sustained from the good of the food,[8] the bad is what gets excreted. For this reason, excrement is called רעי, from the term רע; bad.


The מן, on the other hand, was absorbed in our body and no eliminating waste was necessary.[9] In fact, the word מחספס[10], which is said in regard to the מן, has a Gematria of 248, since the מן was absorbed in the 248 limbs of our body. Let us anticipate the day that will be like before the sin of Adam.


R’ Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. R’ Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] א symbolizes spirituality since it represents ה' אחד, as א has a  Gematria of 1.

[2] Devarim 8:3. The existence of all is from the word of Hashem. Without it, it would cease to exist. For example, when Hashem said תוצא הארץ דשא; let the earth sprout vegetation (Breishis 1:11), as well as the rest of the מאמרות, it created the existence for that thing (See Breishis Rabba 10:6).

[3] Mishlei 13:25. Siduro Shel Shabbos volume 1, 5:1:4

[4] Pele Yoatz, אכילה ושתיה. He writes further (s.v. וכן) some of the evils caused by overeating: it is בל תשחית since it is a waste of food, a waste of time is caused by this excess eating as well as the time he spends in the bathroom because of it. This doesn’t include one who becomes ill due to overeating.

[5] Brachos 35b

[6] Ruach Chaim 3:3

[7] Sanhedrin 59b

[8] The good sustains the soul while the physicality turns into blood.

[9] Yoma 75b. Bamidbar 21:5, Rashi. The Bnei Yissoschar writes that when he was with R’ Tzvi Hirsch Zidichover they were discussing what Bracha the מן was? He found a Rema Mipano which stated the Bracha המוציא לחם מן השמים. There was then a debate among those there. The Mekubal R’ Yisrael Dov responded it appears to me that they didn’t say a Bracha on the מן since it was absorbed in the limbs. Through a Bracha, the sparks of Kedusha contained in the food is elevated from the פסולת, which doesn’t apply to the מן. Another opinion suggested was that during the weekday they didn’t say a Bracha on the מן for the aforementioned reason. But on Shabbos where the eating is like Kodshim, they would recite the Bracha אשר קדשנו...לאכול סעודת שבת. Another opinion is that according to whichever food one envisioned the מן to be, he would make its corresponding Bracha (Taamai Haminhagim, pg 144).

[10] Shemos 16:14

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