Wednesday, November 4, 2009

#72 The Rabbi Says....

While I was reading the Rabbi's monthly chat in the synagogue newsletter, I got inspired for this week's babble. I'm borrowing the Rabbi's pre-story used for his chat as my pre-story to my babble.

A rabbi once asked the members of his congregation, "What is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar?" "That's easy", one woman responded. "The holiest day is the Sabbath". "No," said another. "The holiest day is Yom Kippur when God grants us atonement for our sins." Other days were discussed and debated, but the rabbi finally put a stop to this exercise by sharing what he thought the holiest day should be. He chose the 11th of Tishrei as the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. "What holy day falls on the 11th of Tishrei?" the congregants all asked. "The 11th of Tishrei is the day after Yom Kippur. And this is the holiest day of the year because it is the day that we begin to see if we really intended to keep any of the promises we made."

For those of you who aren't Jewish and/or who don't know about Yom Kippur, it is a very holy day for the Jewish people. It comes 10 days after the Jewish New Year, and it is on this day that the Jews ask God for forgiveness for any and all sins committed. The 25-hour period that is spent worshipping, fasting, and reflecting on the past year is intended to encourage an inner change, a "return to living life as God expects of us". The disciplines of the day [fasting and worshipping] are intended to encourage us to restrain ourselves from our "drives," such as hunger, sex or anger - so that through the Rabbi's sermon and reading scripture, we can be guided toward a more meaningful way of life.

What caught my attention and inspired this babble is the idea of intention. Did I follow through on my promise?

What do I promise myself and fail at consistently? To eat healthy. How many times have I promised myself that "today's the day I'm going to start my diet", or in the past 10 years, to eat healthier, and cut out processed foods? I have said this sentence [or something like it] so many times in my life, and so many times, I have let myself down. When I started working on this babble, I thought about gluttony compared to other sins - like disrespect to one's elders, arrogance, envy, wantonness, greed, disregard for other's property, and so on. I don't mean to belittle the day of Yom Kippur by raising gluttony to the most sinful. I am just sharing how the Rabbi's pre story about "following through" made me think of my past [and sometimes present] failures with dieting.

During the service on the evening before Yom Kippur, we say something like this.... Look at us G-d, see what miserable sinners we are. We make promises to live better each year and yet we always seem to fall far short of keeping those promises. We ask you G-d to pardon us for our shortcomings.

Well, when it comes to dieting and eating healthy, we don't need to ask G-d for forgiveness. We don't need to ask for forgiveness from anyone but ourselves. We need to accept that we are weak in the arms of a canoli, and move on. We need to accept that the aroma of cookies baking in the oven make our hearts go pitter patter, and move on. It's all about our INTENTION. If our intentions are good and true, then we can start again to honor our bodies by feeding them in a healthy way.

So this is what I've learned, and this is how I try to treat myself. I don't harp on my weakness for sweets. I make mistakes. I eat unhealthy foods. Instead of insulting my inability to stay in control, I am instead, kind and understanding. This is how I would treat another person who has "slipped". The 11th of Tishrei can be every day in the life of a "dieter". Yom Kippur is a day to reflect on the values and responsibilities to yourself, as well as to the world. As my rabbi says in his chat, you aren't a hypocrite if you truly believe and intend to change. He says, "...that we need to realize the divine potential that we each possess, and to take the steps needed to make our good intentions come to fruition."

Quote of the Day: "Your life is not meant to get easier, it is meant to take on new and greater responsibilities. This is the pathway to self-fulfillment and self-worth." Dr. John Demartini - healer, trainer, writer


Anonymous said...

I see your point, but the concept of food as gluttony/sin can be a dangerous road. I don't look at my enjoyment of sweets or salty fat as slipping, I accept it and work with it, figuring that I'm much happier if I can indulge a bit. This doesn't have to be a pint of ice cream, it can be a cup of chocolate milk, or a dark chocolate almond or two. I can eat 6 fries off my dining partner's plate, don't need to order my own. I can still lose weight with small indulgences, even the occasional big one, no redemption needed!

Bobbie's Babbles said...

I am replying to Justjuliebean's comment. I don't see food as gluttony, I see eating a box of cookies, a pint of icecream, two meals at one sitting as a form of gluttony, as out-of-control eating, as disrespectful to yourself and to your body as a way of using food for other purposes than nutrition. I try not to say I was good or bad when I eat, or those words to what I eat. Labeling, true, is a slippery slope.

The G Male said...

I am not quite sure I agree with either comment. I don't like the idea of going through life and NOT ordering my own French Fries, eating a few off of someone else's plate and thinking that it is an acceptable pattern of behavior. Splitting a side with someone, sure. Borrowing a few morsels to avoid ordering my own, not so much! Seriously, if I want fries I order them. I just make sure that I really want them. Many a time has seen me at the drive through NOT ordering the #1 meal because I did not want the accompanying fries or the super sized sack of processed whatever! "Sandwich and a drink only please, Thank You Very Much".

I also don't agree that eating an entire pint of ice cream is always gluttony. Sometimes its quite simply that I just really wanted it. I really, really wanted that ice cream, discovering it to be so good that I decided to keep eating it until, oops, the cold and creamy goodness was all gone! The intent to be greedy just was not there. The desire to innocently enjoy was!

I wonder if it is OK to eat what you want, when you want it in the quantities desired? Not out of greed but out of pure joy and pleasure! And if you should experience a weight gain, (like most of us who keep a close eye on the scale and how tight our clothes feel) would it then not make sense to curb your intake, knock back the weight gained and if and when desired to then go at it again, happy, gleeful, relishing every minute of (what you might call) gluttony but what I would consider enjoyment?

I have enjoyed greatly. I am now in the process of knocking back, in a big way, the weight I have collected by not keeping tabs on the scale in a real and responsible way. But you know, in all the time I spent eating, over eating, eating the wrong foods, and eating for the wrong reasons, I cant recall ever eating with the intention or spirit of gluttony.

Just a thought.