Fasting’s fascinating. It’s one of my favorite Jewish things to do even though it’s such a universal act, and although there’s something so un-Jewish about voluntary starvation. Religious rituals of self-deprivation, extended simulations of hunger are practiced by most world religions. Muslims begin Ramadan today, fasting daily for a month of repentance. Yom Kippur, 39 days away, also uses fasting as a tool for reflection. Interesting – both Ramadan and The High holidays end with a break-fast feast. Two Semitic siblings similar in so many ways: United we fast. But why actually? Why is fasting so compelling as to a central religious practice for so many people on the planet? What does it actually achieve? This year, inspired by Ramadan I want to think ahead to Yom Kippur, fast forward and prep well – to make more of my fasting, more of my personal process of change, starting now. I don’t intend to start fasting daily – but do I want to be more conscious of what I eat, and how. I will start my first of many prepent lists today, re-examining my diet, my weight, my relationship to what I eat and therefore what I am. The goal: re-balance. Better physical health and metaphysical wellbeing. And also, lose 5 pounds. So much of our personal joy or suffering and sense of self has to do with our bodies and our relationship to food. Today I’m focused on the art of eating, fasting, and taking serious stock of how I feed myself and how I can do so better –with more awareness, loving, taking care of self – and the environment. Are my habits of eating part of the planetary problem – or can I be part of the solution? More vitamins? Less sugar? Organic? Vegetarian? Eco-kosher? Start the process of reflection with what’s on the plate. Emerson, famously too skinny, reflected often on what he ate, played, so to speak, with his foods and moods: “My days” he wrote, “ are made up of the irregular succession of a very few different tones of feeling. These are my feasts and fasts. “ Ramadan Mubarak. Bon Appétit.
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