Fat Tuesday: Noach and Food Choices

A story told frequently during Rosh Hashana begins like this:

“Once upon a time there was a King with a wise and beautiful daughter. When it came time for her to be married, the King invited many suitors, but the daughter had a reason to refuse each in turn. The first was a glutton, she said. The second a drunkard…”

In this allegory, The King is God. The daughter is the Torah. The suitors, it turns out, are sketches of Adam (who didn’t control his appetite and at the fruit) and Noah (who grew the first vineyard and subsequently got drunk). While the story goes on to explain why Moses was the “suitor” who was judged worthy of the King’s daughter, that’s not the point I want to focus on here.

In this week’s portion, food choices figure prominently.

  • As mentioned, Noah creates wine, but doesn’t have the capacity to control himself around it.
  • Before the flood, humans are meant to be herbivores
  • But of course they aren’t which is why one of the Noahide laws is that it’s forbidden to rip the limb from a live animal and eat it.
  • The prohibition extends to consuming the blood of an animal as well
  • And the portion indicates that, in the new post-flood world, some animals are permissible to eat (the ones represented by 7 pairs of animals on the ark) while others are not (the ones where only one pair of their kind is allowed on board.)

Coming so soon after the story of the birth of the world itself, one lesson that rings out clearly for those of us on a weight loss journey is that making conscious choices about what we do (and do not) permit ourselves to consume is built into the very fabric of our existence. We can choose to remain ignorant of how our eating choices affect us, but we do so at our own peril.