A Fasting Story

Empty cup — a sentimental favorite, my parents have this set.

It’s funny how everything seems to revolve around food, the less you can eat of it. I’ve been counting calories lately (I know…) and it adds a level of stress to everything. I’ve started to see calories as money. Can I “afford” to eat this for lunch, if I want to have that for dinner? (It’s really not a problem if you exercise, but that’s a whole other story…)

And now it’s Yom Kippur, a food-free holiday… until sundown, at least. (I still have such fond Yom Kippur memories of the honey-spice cake served at Hillel’s “break the fast” … I will always regret not tracking down the recipe.)

Luckily (sort of), I tend to get barf-style sick if I don’t eat for too many hours in a row, which is basically a free pass not to fast. So my lame stomach is cool on Yom Kippur. This is its day to shine.

But this post is not about my guts. It’s about a story I heard on Radiolab a few months back, about a man who could no longer eat. But had to keep on living. Life got pretty dark for him. This is one of those stories where I parked the car and couldn’t get out because I had to finish listening to it. (Things that really stuck with me: the french fries, and the frenzied trip at the end/grilling of the pork chops. And the irony of what the doctors concluded.)

I probably cried, sitting there in my car, which is one of the risks you take when you listen to NPR in public. (I’m ALWAYS crying in my car. THANKS, NPR!) But I’m giving you the chance to cry in a more private space (or maybe in a Starbucks, if that’s where you are right now).

This will help you have a day of reflection, whether or not you’re in temple.

And it makes me remember that it’s okay (maybe necessary?) to eat a french fry every once in a while. Because with any luck (and working tastebuds), it will be DELICIOUS.


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