“All the Tastes in the Torah:” A Reflection on Tisha B’Av and Receiving The Torah Afresh Everyday
“O taste and see that the Lord is good…”
“Torah is called ‘מזון’ (Mazon). It’s called ‘food…’ My blessing for all of us [is] that we experience within and beyond how sweet and good [Torah] tastes. Sometimes we like things to taste salty also and pungent and sour. There’s enough of all the tastes in the Torah.”
“Furthermore, with regard to a forbidden food that became mixed with a permitted food, Rabbi Abbahu says that Rabbi Yoḥanan says: In any case where the flavor and substance of the forbidden food are perceptible in the mixture, the mixture is forbidden…But… if the forbidden food amplified the flavor of the permitted food to its detriment, it is permitted.
“This is why the maror (bitter herbs eaten at Pesach) is so important. We must sense the bitterness of slavery to really taste the joy of freedom. Freedom is meaningless if one has never felt confined.”
I dedicate this writing to those who are without and ask that anyone reading might consider an act of Tzedekah and donate to an organization working to feed the hungry.
Writing about taste and food after my first experience of a תענית (Ta’anit)/Major Fast in Judaism seems somewhat ironic. Nevertheless, I start with Tisha B’Av.
The 9th of Av is said to be the saddest day in the Jewish Calendar, a time to traditionally recall the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the resulting diaspora(s) of the Jews. However, there are other calamities mourned as well.
During my practice (along with fasting, not listening to music or even brushing my teeth for the 24-hour period), I watched the first hour and half of Shoah, a nine-hour documentary of first-hand accounts of The Holocaust. While 90 minutes is not much, the taste was enough to draw tears (and I do plan to return to the rest). However, I also sought out new information about other atrocities, such as The Rwandan Genocide and the current Russian War against Ukraine.
After the sunset, I remember my first bite of something sweet, Baruch HaShem, and how different it was, even just going without for such a paltry time. There was delight in the nourishment, but, and appropriately so, a greater sense of grief over how many people in the world do not even have the option of going without food. They either have to get by on whatever is available, whenever it is available, or, Baruch Dayan HaEmet, they have nothing to eat at all.
Do I write this in attempt at virtue signaling? Rachamana Litzian, I am certain on some level I most certainly do, because we are all guilty of pride. However, with the help of Adonai, perhaps I hope to go deeper than this.
The flavors and experiences of Judaism during my still-nascent journey into Con