Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Thanks For The Grub: Ekev 2017

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: If you could choose the last meal of your life, what would you eat? Would it be a meal you eat frequently now, or something you rarely or never eat?

Our Torah portion this week speaks of the foods the Israelites would enjoy in the Promised Land, and then commands that they recite blessings after eating, including a passage that we include in our Grace After Meals to this day:

The Pitch: “When you have eaten your fill, give thanks to the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.” – Deuteronomy 8:10

Swing #1: “By blessing God we double our enjoyment of the food.” – Yehudah HaLevi, The Kuzari

Swing #2: “Your readiness to thank God after a meal is part of having ‘eaten your fill.’ The command addresses itself not merely to those who have satisfied their hunger but also, and especially, to those who are habitually well sated.” – Itture Torah

Swing #3: “Our Rabbis taught: Where is the saying of grace intimated in the Torah? In the verse, ‘When you have eaten your fill, give thanks’: this signifies the benediction of ‘Who feeds’. ‘To the Lord your God’: this signifies the benediction of zimmun [invitation to pray]. ‘For the land’: this signifies the blessing for the land. ‘The good’: this signifies ‘Who builds Jerusalem.’” – BT Berakhot 48b

Late-Inning Questions: Do you agree with our commentators that expressing our gratitude for the food we eat increases our enjoyment of the meal? Does it seem strange to you that Jewish tradition expects us to say prayers both before and after we eat? What does that say about the connection between eating and ritual observance?

The Big Inning at the End: At the end of this month, every Major League team will wear special uniforms. During this “Player’s Weekend”, most of the players’ jerseys will include their nickname rather than their last name. It’s a fun touch that begs the question: why can’t the players include their nicknames on their jerseys all the time?

Shabbat Shalom!