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The Food Concept & Fasting from Jewish Perspective.

1. Understanding Jewish Food Traditions

There are four main reasons why Jewish food seems distinctive:

a) kosher laws

a set of food dos and don’ts, first recorded in the Hebrew Bible in the book of Leviticus and later
elaborated by the rabbis in the Talmud. Most Jews today do not follow these rules about what
animals to eat, how they should be slaughtered and prepared, and which foods may be eaten
together. Still, for many Jews who were raised observant, the kosher rules help form a sense of what
is taboo to eat, and what is normal. Some, for example, won’t eat meat from unkosher animals, even
though they’ll eat meat that’s not ritually slaughtered. The idea of keeping kosher provides Jewish
culture with a sense that there is a right way and a wrong way to eat and that food is important.

b) Jewish food evolved the way it did was the customs around Shabbat, a day when observant
Jews do not cook but are supposed to eat hot food. There is a whole set of dishes that can
be cooked or kept warm overnight
c) A third religious factor in Jewish cuisine was the Passover holiday, with its special food rules
that also stimulated Jewish culinary creativity.
d) Jewish food seems different is our pattern of migration and cultural adaptation

Jews have a tradition of adapting the food of the surrounding culture to Jewish food rules, and then
bringing those dishes to new countries.


Fasting in Jewish perspective

Fasting has held a significant role in the Jewish religious tradition. Fasting in Judaism is defined as
total cessation from all food and drink. A full-day fast begins with sunset in the evening and
continues through darkness of the next day. A minor fast day begins with the dawn and concludes at

Fasting may be a voluntary act of contrition or an obligation of the sacred calendar of Israel. Fasting
is portrayed as both inner-directed and outer-directed in both Biblical and rabbinic texts. The act of
fasting is believed to result in the spiritual transformation of the individual or the community.
Fasting is claimed to influence God to act graciously toward Israel.

Personal fasts are undertaken as a penance for sin. Jews later elected to fast after experiencing
nightmares, presumably provoked by unacceptable behavior. The Jewish bride and groom fast on
their wedding day in order to begin their marriage in a state of purity. The act of fasting atones for
the prior sins of the bride and groom. Jews would often fast on the yahrzeit, the anniversary of the
death of their family members or their teachers. Fasting is an act of congregational penance if the
sacred and beloved Torah scroll is dropped to the ground. Because of this prohibition, Jews are
scrupulous in their respect of the Torah scroll. Fasting arouses the compassion of God to forgive the
penitent. Statutory communal fasts in Judaism reflect the desire for divine forgiveness.
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

The ritual drama of the Day of Atonement captures the transformative power of communal fasting.
The atmosphere is that of contrition and introspection. As Yom Kippur is a twenty-four-hour fast,
with total abstinence from food and drink, the traditional worshippers spend the entire day in
prayer. The confession of sins is chanted communally, emphasizing Judaism’s belief in the centrality
of the spiritual community. The fast is a spiritual cleansing, both on an individual and communal


Fasting also appears as:

1. Mourning rite
2. Part of revelation or prophecy
3. Preparation of important event
4. Part of petitionary prayer
5. Repentance
6. Discipline of women voluntarily fasting

Yom Kippur in Brief

What: Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year, when we are closest to G‑d and to the essence of
our souls. Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement,” as the verse states, “For on this day He will
forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G‑d.”1

When: The 10th day of Tishrei (in 2019, from several minutes before sunset on Tuesday, October 8,
until after nightfall on Wednesday, October 9), coming on the heels of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish
New Year, which is on the first and second days of Tishrei).

How: For nearly 26 hours we “afflict our souls”: we abstain from food and drink, do not wash or
apply lotions or creams, do not wear leather footwear, and abstain from marital relations. Instead,
we spend the day in synagogue, praying for forgiveness.


Traditions and Symbols of Yom Kippur

Pre-Yom Kippur feast: On the eve of Yom Kippur, families and friends gather for a bountiful feast
that must be finished before sunset. The idea is to gather strength for 25 hours of fasting.
Breaking of the fast: After the final Yom Kippur service, many people return home for a festive meal.
It traditionally consists of breakfast-like comfort foods such as blintzes, noodle pudding and baked

Wearing white: It is customary for religious Jews to dress in white—a symbol of purity—on Yom
Kippur. Some married men wear kittels, which are white burial shrouds, to signify repentance.

Charity: Some Jews make donations or volunteer their time in the days leading up to Yom Kippur.
This is seen as a way to atone and seek God’s forgiveness. One ancient custom known as kapparot
involves swinging a live chicken or bundle of coins over one’s head while reciting a prayer. The
chicken or money is then given to the poor.