Daf Yomi Nedarim 10
I generally enjoy shopping. Clothing, household goods, breakfast cereal, all good. But one purchase I find extremely challenging is shopping for fruit and vegetables. You sift through the display of produce choosing the most beautiful, unblemished pieces. But with each tomato you pick up and then reject, do you have any idea of the spiritual repercussions of your rejection? What does the future hold for that poor little tomato’le? Rejection is never easy and I can’t help but struggle with feelings of guilt as I imagine the pain of this downtrodden, helpless creation of the Almighty.
Concerning the nazir, the Torah declares, “He shall atone for him for that which he sinned against the soul.”
Rabbi Elazar Hakapar Barabi taught: Against whose soul did he sin? Against his own, for he is guilty of self-affliction for choosing to abstain from wine.
Moreover, if this fellow who merely abstained from wine is called a sinner, how much more so one who abstains from everything! From here we see that anyone who fasts excessively is called a sinner.
The Almighty gave us this world to enjoy! As Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch replied when asked why he was wasting his time vacationing in the Alps, ‘What would I say to G-d when He asks me after 120 what I thought of His Alps’elach and I hadn’t bothered checking them out?’ Hashem didn’t create a beautiful world for us to ignore or strive to abstain from. He wants us to partake of and enjoy His bounty!
The world is here for you to elevate. When you take a nice piece of fruit, make a blessing over it, and eat it for the honour of the Almighty and your desire to have the physical strength to serve Him, you elevate that fruit from its mundane, physical, humble beginnings and transform it into spiritual matter. If you abstain from a nice juicy piece of fruit, you are denying it its purpose in the world!
And that’s why I’m torn every time I’m shopping for fruit and vegetables and pick up a tomato only to reject it because it wasn’t perfect enough. Have you any idea the pain felt by that tomato when, for a moment, it believed it would be sanctified and spiritually transformed, as it is eaten for the sake of Heaven – but then gets rejected?
Needless to say, those who object to animal slaughter and consumption have no clue as to the incredible yearning of the cow sitting at the abattoir to be picked for kosher slaughter. That is their spiritual destiny, the ultimate fulfilment of their mission here on earth. Whenever they watch a PETA demonstration, they cry on the inside that anyone could have the heartlessness to deny them their place in Heaven!
G-d wants you to enjoy the world He created. It’s a huge blessing, but always remember to ‘please enjoy responsibly.’ May you merit enjoying everything this world has to offer and elevating it all from the physical to the spiritual plane by making the correct blessings before and after you eat and consuming all His goodness to have strength to serve Him!