Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Giving (and Taking) Advice

Last night, I joined over 100 women in celebrating the 20th anniversary of Bais Chana, a women's yeshiva here in Los Angeles. The organization is named Bais Chana after the Rebbe's mother, by all accounts an amazingly kind, intelligent and resourceful woman and certainly worthy of our emulation.

As usually happens when you are sitting around a table with people you don't know, everyone shares their background. When I told them I was a Master's student in Nutrition at Cal State ULA, one woman right away asked for advice.

Well, because it was dark and the event was held in the backyard of a wealthy sponsor, no one on the other side of the table could see that I had a small plate piled high with cookies right in front of me. A plate I complied myself. So I smiled, confessed to what lay before me and gave this advice: eat everything in moderation.

But with an even bigger smile, I confessed again that while I gave that advice, I certainly didn't follow it. Which sounds hypocritical, but in my own defense, I do try not to judge others' eating habits.

So when a dear friend called tonight to ask about veganism, I merely told her it was not for me. Which it isn't. I love meat. L-rd knows I've tried, but the taste of meat just brings me right back. But even if I could give up meat, I certainly wouldn't give up eggs or fish.

I try not to make food a political issue. I did say to be a vegan is a lot of work - no cheap Swanson dinners for quick meals there. And in that sense, welcome to my world. Keeping kosher is harder, for me, than giving birth, and my labors lasted 17 hours. It requires complete negation of your desires in order to fulfill the will of the One Above.

So let me give myself another piece of advice: if you keep seeing food as a connection to G-dliness, and to spiritual awareness, then there's room for everyone to choose what's best for them. In moderation, of course.

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