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Opportunity

Friday, 5 October, 2018 - 1:03 pm

What’s less healthy than only eating unhealthy foods?

Although virtually all dieticians will advise against only eating fatty foods, they will agree that it’s better to subsist on a lousy diet than on no food consumption at all.

When your doctor tells you not to eat foods that are high in cholesterol, she doesn’t mean to limit your food consumption entirely.

In other words, eating food is healthy, not unhealthy. It’s just that without some restrictions it can become unhealthy.

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This can help explain G-d’s first instruction to mankind.

This week we restart the annual cycle of Torah study with the parsha of Bereishit.

After creating Adam, G-d instructs him, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat. But of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat of it, for on the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die.”

If G-d’s intention is to forbid consumption of the Tree of Knowledge, why mention the permissibility of other trees? To use an analogy, if my doctor tells me to stay away from high-risk sports, wouldn’t I know that crocheting is permissible? Similarly, wouldn’t we know – by inference – that all other trees are permissible if they aren’t prohibited?

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Rather, G-d’s first instruction was the proactive eating from other trees. That’s the main goal!

G-d put mankind on this world with a mission. Part of that assignment is to interact with the world, thereby elevating it. By eating from it, in a holy fashion, mankind helps the world fulfill its purpose.

In a sense, the opening directive to humanity is G-d’s mandate to mankind: Interact with the world that I have created in a holy fashion, actualizing My goal in creating the world.

However, just as in biological food consumption, not all foods are spiritually fit for consumption. Similarly, one tree in particular was not fit for human consumption in the Garden of Eden.

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If we choose to obsess on the prohibition, we become ever more tempted to cross the line. But, if we focus instead on all the opportunities we enjoy, the illegal options recede to the background. Instead of worrying about the fact that 2 or 3 foods are outlawed by my physician, or banned by G-d, look at the myriad of healthy and kosher foods that have your name written all over them.

Guardrails are important. But obsessing over them can cause us to forget our main task.

Our primary mission is to bring light into this world, not simply fend off the darkness.

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