Just eat the sweet treat

Since becoming a parent, I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about how we communicate our relationship to food.

One has to encourage eating, but do it in a non-stress, no-pressure kind of way. There is a bit of a ​Schrodinger’s Cat​ situation of paying attention to a child who is eating so that they won’t choke, but also not so much attention that they become distracted by you.

It is a fine line that I’m still navigating.

On ​Megillah 7b​, we learn this story:

Abaye said, “When I left from the house of my master, I was satisfied from the food. When I arrived there to Marei bar Mar’s house, they brought me sixty plates of sixty types of cooked dishes, and I ate sixty portions.

Unlike a toddler, who might eat only a few items during a meal, Abaye had a different relationship to food. In fact, Judaism pays a lot of attention to food. What we eat, what we do with it, and how much of it we engage with. For example:

  • For Passover, one is obligated to eat the volume of an “olive” worth (kezayit) of Matzah on the first night to fulfill one’s obligation.
  • For an ​Eruv Tavshilin​, the rabbinic loophole that allows cooking under festival and Shabbat calendar issues requires two cooked items to be sufficient.
  • For kiddush, on Friday and festival nights, one must put enough wine or grape juice into a glass that is at least “an egg and a half’s volume” or a revi’it, a fourth of a log, which is a measure based on the size of one’s cheek.
  • On Purim, we’re meant to send food to each other, called Mishloach Manot. Later, on that same page of Talmud, we learn: “Abaye bar Avin and Rabbi Hanina bar Avin would exchange meals with each other.

This is to say that the rabbis paid serious attention to how much and what we ate. And none of this even covered the many rules of kashrut.

One takeaway we often learn is that the details matter.

But that isn’t the only story. One of the things I remember my grandfather saying when I was a child was, “There is always room for dessert.” This sentiment, that perhaps there’s enough room for an additional cookie, is shared by most of the world’s children, I’m fairly confident in saying.

But they’re not alone. The rabbis felt this way too.

On that same page of Talmud, a folk saying about food says, “rav’cha libsima sh’chiach,” which roughly translates to, with Rashi’s help: “There’s always room to be found for tasty treats.”

Life is short.

Blow bubbles inside, stomp in that puddle, have another cookie.

Thank you for reading! In my With Torah and Love newsletter, I write about Torah, Talmud, self-awareness, and becoming our best selves as students of life and Judaism.

About the Author

Rabbi Jeremy Markiz is a teacher and consultant. He teaches the Torah rooted in personal growth, kindness, intentionality, and bettering the world. He writes the With Torah and Love newsletter.

He helps clergy, congregations, and Jewish organizations grow and communicate clearly in the digital world, develop effective strategies, and solve problems with his consulting firm, Next Level Rabbinics.