Parashat Ekev

To Be In Truth

You can spend entire days choosing menus and tasting them, one after the other and it does not matter in which order… You can spend your entire life on a journey tasting different cuisines, and not even comprehend.


Harav Israel Asulin

Monday, 18th of Av, 5775


You can spend days choosing menus and tasting them, one after the other and it does not matter in which order… You can spend your entire life on a journey tasting different cuisines, and not even comprehend.

Comprehend what?

Not comprehend that you are not living because you are far from the truth.

“Lest you eat…and forget the Lord your G-d…” (Devarim[1] Chapter 8, Verse 12-14) In this week’s Torah portion there are a lot of references and warnings regarding the subject of eating. Rebbe Nachman says in Likutei Moharan[2], Torah 47: “Someone who is immersed in overeating, it is known that he is far from the truth…”

It is simple and clear, says Rebbe Nachman, if you are immersed there then it is known and clear and understood completely that you are far from the truth.

Why? What is so clear here? What, you can’t be in truth and into food? Why does one have to come on the account of the other?

Our teacher Rebbe Nachman, the artist of the soul, knows. Already, two hundred years ago, during a time when there was not yet rehabilitation centers for addictions or hospital departments, the size of small villages, for treating eating disorders. He saw us on an escape journey from ourselves. He foresaw us running from the coffee shop to the steak house, opening the fridge and the food pantry every two minutes to see what is new… eating with our eyes closed, sweet and salty and sour and spicy, hot and cold, wet and dry. The main thing is to snack. Escaping, run amok, into food. Addicted, immersed, and drowning in food.

In this generation, there is almost no one who can flee from the addiction to food. It appears in everyone to one extent or another.

Why are we constantly running to the food?

Because we are sick, and most of all- we are afraid to feel. In food there is something very rewarding. It distracts us from anything that is annoying. It is pleasant, tasty, gives you a break from life and you can find it with the best kosher certification.

Even in the act of chewing, even if we would chew rocks, we would have a lot of emotional ‘gains’. It is possible to release tension and nerves by chewing, to grind very finely between the teeth a cracker with no salt, until I’ll forget that I was annoyed and even who I was in general… all the more so when we put into our mouth something that is not rocks… something sweet gives us the feeling of comfort and love. In something picante, including all of the types of salty and very hot foods, there is a lot of excitement. Warm food is something so nice and soft, it gives you a hug, and it fulfills you, and allows you to feel like you are wrapped in a comfortable blanket in the heart of the wilderness.

Of course, when the eating is proportional, when you are not “sunken in the desire for food”, when you take care of your body and your soul’s nutrition with clear boundaries, when you are in control of the food and he is not in control of you, then it is completely fine. It is permitted for you to eat and even a mitzvah.

However, if you are immersed in it- you lose all of your existence! If you escape from your feelings and from your struggle with anger or with pain, with the emptiness or with your spouse, and run to the food, then it’s as if you are erased. There was a feeling which tried to come to the surface in order to receive treatment, and instead of giving it attention you drowned it in a tray of pizza with tomato sauce.

Isn’t it a shame? Isn’t it a waste for you?

Who will take care of the child[3] that you were, if every time that he tries to lift his head you place upon him a dish of delicious danishes?

Who will bring alive the relationship with your spouse that you can awaken, if every time a window is opened for you to correct something in your connection you close it with a piece of chocolate filled with nougat cream and cream puffs?

Even if you fulfill with great beauty all of the 613 mitzvahs, how can it be said about you that you are close to the truth when all you do is run away from any piece of truth which threatens to appear in your path? How can it be said about you that you are truthful and in the truth, if you are not present in any place, and when you are not eating you feel dead??

What do we do? How can we be weaned? The food is tasty and the truth is much bitterer. Where do we run to?

That’s it, we don’t escape. We stay where we are. We receive upon ourselves clear boundaries. We stop escaping to the food and stay where we are. We stay in the pain. We stay in the fear. We stay in the boredom. We stay with the communication difficulties. We remain.

However, you are not alone.

You are not alone in this battle. Our Torah is the Torah of life, and nobody is telling you- stop running away and stay shivering on a flimsy board in the heart of a stormy sea. Nobody is leaving you to be devoured by yourself with no relief against all the truths of your life. You have three anchors that are waiting for you: the Tsaddik, a friend and personal prayer.

The first thing that you need to do when you decide to wean yourself is to connect yourself strongly to the teachings of the Tsaddik. Read the words of Rebbe Nachman, even without understanding, although it is preferable to understand, but the main thing is to read and connect yourself to the Tsaddik.

The second anchor is to find a good friend in order to speak with him truthfully about what you are going through; about your difficulty with the food- you want to eat so badly! What is the connection to dieting?? Just today your wife prepared for you a ten story cake with frosting. Talk to him about the difficulty that the absence of the food causes you, and slowly you will meet the truth; the pain, the distance, the emptiness, the small child you once were, how you felt lonely all those years, the fears that you pushed away, and the pangs of conscience that arise. Don’t be alone with this pain; find an address to speak about what you are going through. Whether it’s a good friend, or your wife, or paying someone with a good heart to listen to you.

Personal prayer- Hashem never leaves you, he is always with you. He is just waiting for you to come to him and to tell him about yourself, simply, in your words: “Father, you know, I started working on my desire to overeat…”

[1] Deuteronomy

[2] The main collection of Rebbe Nachman’s teachings

[3] A reference to our emotional world inside

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