Wednesday 24th February 2021
The ultimate dining experience!
Yesterday’s briefing from Nicola Sturgeon suggested that hairdressers, gyms, cafes, and restaurants could reopen on the 29th April onwards. This of course is welcome news and cannot come soon enough. Whilst the reopening of hairdressers will have little effect on myself (having little or no hair), it will be wonderful again meeting with friends and family, especially if there is food on the go!
Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.
Our Bible passage records a remarkable event that took place during the Exodus. Moses and his most trusted companions, accompanied by 70 elders of Israel, ascended Mount Sini and dined with God. This must surely rate as the ultimate dining experience! And I wonder what kind of food did God provide? Was it their usual diet of manna and quail (see yesterday’s reflection for more info), or did God provide something rather special?
The context of the passage is the affirmation or sealing of the covenant between God and the people of ancient Israel. He will be their God and provide for and protect his people. In response they will become a holy nation, set apart by worship and the Law of Moses.
Why not look back and reflect on those special occasions in which you shared food with the people closest to you. What did it feel like? What did you eat and how did it taste? And look forward to the end of April when all being well such experiences can recommence.
One final though. Within the Jewish tradition, the holy meal on Mount Sinai is the prototype for Jewish celebrations. That is celebrating with holiness. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, considered by many to be one of the most influential Jewish leaders of the 20th century, offers an insight into the meal on Sinai. Uisng the image of ‘a flickering candle flickering candle flame that constantly strives upwards. So too the soul: were it not for the wick that connects it to the base of the candle, the body, the soul would depart and ascend. If they had not integrated their spiritual experience with physicality by eating and drinking, it is likely that the souls of the elders would have left their bodies.’
When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. Deuteronomy. 8:10
Jews normally do not say “grace” before meals, but rather after they have eaten. They do not “bless” the food, either, but rather acknowledge that God is the One who provides for their sustenance.
Blessed are you, LORD our God, master of the universe,
Who nourishes the whole world in goodness, with grace, kindness, and compassion?
He gives bread to all flesh, for His mercy endures forever.
And through His great goodness we have never lacked, nor will we lack food forever, for the sake of His great Name.
For He is God, who nourishes and sustains all, and does good to all, and prepares food for all His creatures which He created.
Blessed are You, LORD, who nourishes all. Amen.
(Shorted version of the Birkat Hamazon)
May God the Father,
who does not despise the broken spirit,
give to you a contrite heart.
who bore our sins in his body on the tree,
heal you by his wounds.
May the Holy Spirit,
who leads us into all truth,
speak to you words of pardon and peace.
And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.