Fat Tuesday: In the Beginning…

It’s been a while since I posted here, and there’s been a lot of changes that I will discuss in a separate post. But the focus here, and for the duration of this series, is two-fold – my progress on a new diet and how it might relate to the Torah portion of the week.

It’s no coincidence that I’m starting a new diet at this time of year. For those who follow the Jewish calendar, this IS the new year – and same as December 31 it’s not uncommon for folks to make plans, promises, and comittments about how the coming year will shape up.

It’s also the time of year when we begin the Torah cycle all over again, and this past week in synagogues around the world, the words “Bereshit bara Elohim..”) once again rang out.

“In the beginning of God’s creating…”

It’s been frequently noted that the first word of the beginning of “the greatest story every told” begins with the second letter of the hebrew alphabet (aleph-bet, really). There are many lessons one can learn from this, but the one I want to highlight is that it emphasizes how nothing in the world, at least in Jewish thinking, appears ex nihilo – out of nothing.

For me, as part of this series, that means I need to learn that lesson two-fold:

  • First, that this diet, or more specifically the reason for it, didn’t just happen by itself. Bite by bite I caused the weight gain. I am just as able to see that weight leave me, but it will follow the same slow but steady pattern.
  • That I am not the first person to diet (and, honestly, this isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to weight loss), and I have people to help me, including an amazing coach Jeff who also asks me NOT to call it a diet and try to refer to it as focusing on healthy habits and lifestyles. That’s just his coach-y way of saying “diet”. (Love ya, Jeff!)

The other piece that is relevant to the Torah portion this week is that beginnings – especially beginnings that include humans and food –  are often not clean and orderly affairs. I’m not just making a gag about Adam, Chava, and the Tree (although you have to admit that joke is low-hanging fruit). I’m pointing out that when it comes to humans and food, we have an uncanny knack to pick the thing that is worst for us without guidance and help.

So I’ve made sure I have a coach to help me keep on the right track, and I’m also approaching this with a good sense of both humility and humor. I’m going to screw up. Things are not going to go as planned. Mistakes will be made.

But, like the Torah narrative itself, I’m choosing to believe that it’s possible to keep moving forward no matter the obstacles in our way or the mistakes we may have made, and that we have a chance to create new beginnings for ourselves.

If you’d like to ready more about this journey, you can also check out the Fat Tuesday series on my technical blog.