David Bruce: 250 Anecdotes About Religion, Volume 2 — Food

Food

• During the first nine days of the Jewish month of Av, Jews must not eat meat — this is a sign of mourning for the destruction of the temple. However, a sickly child appeared before Rabbi Hayyim of Brisk to ask if he might be permitted to eat meat during the fast days because of his illness. The rabbi replied, “Not only are you permitted to eat meat, but also you must tell your mother that she is permitted to eat meat.” When the rabbi’s followers later asked why he had said this, Rabbi Hayyim said, “A sickly child is a sign that his mother is also sick and needs nourishment.”

• Mulla Nasrudin attended a dinner party at which the host ordered his servant to bring all kinds of good dishes, including figs boiled in milk, which Nasrudin was particularly fond of. The servant brought all the dishes his master had ordered, but forgot the figs boiled in milk. After eating, the host asked Nasrudin to read from the Koran. Nasrudin turned to the passage beginning, “By the figs and the olives and Mount Sinai …” and read “By the olives and Mount Sinai ….” The host interrupted, “You forgot the figs.” “No,” replied Nasrudin. “Your servant did.”

• Each Saturday evening, Rev. William G. Campbell of St. Savior’s Anglican Church in Vermilion, Alberta, prepares the unleavened bread for the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday. He always makes sure to set aside some of the crusts for his wife to use when she prepares Caesar salads. Whenever Rev. Campbell is asked how he spends Saturday evenings, he replies, “I render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

• Because an aged Catholic priest had become deaf, people going to confession were accustomed to write out their sins on a piece of paper and pass the paper to him in the confessional. One day, a sinner slipped a piece of paper to the priest. The priest read the paper — “Fish sticks, two cans of beans, bread, milk” — then passed the note back to the sinner. The sinner looked at the note, then exclaimed, “Mother of God, I’ve left my sins at the grocery store.”

• At a visit to Pendle Hill, Bacon Evans was served a very small, very simple meal — watery soup and a few crackers — so that the money thus saved could be used to feed hungry people. The other people present at the dinner knew that Mr. Evans was a courteous man, and they wondered what he could find to compliment about so poor a meal. Mr. Evans rose to the occasion — he told his hosts, “That soup was salted just perfectly!”

• A baron went to visit Zen master Hakuin to learn what he taught. A peasant woman had just delivered some peasant food — millet cakes — to Hakuin, and he offered the baron some of the millet cakes. However, the baron was accustomed to rich food and could not bring himself to eat peasant food. Hakuin told the baron, “Force yourself to eat it; you will get to know the misery of the common folk. My teaching is nothing but this.”

• According to an ancient story, Abraham invited a stranger into his tent for a meal. However, the stranger began to curse God, so Abraham quickly threw him out of the tent. That night, Abraham prayed, “Today, I defended Your Honor and Your Glory by sending away a blasphemer who cursed You.” God replied, “This man has cursed Me for 50 years, and yet I have given him food every day. Couldn’t you put up with him for one meal?”

• During a famine, Monobazus, the king of Adiabene, spent all his money to feed the hungry. His relatives told him that he was squandering his money, but he replied, “All of our ancestors stored up treasures of money for this world. I also stored up by using my money to feed the hungry, but I have stored up a treasure for my soul.”

• Dr. Louis Finkelstein, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, kept a strictly kosher diet. While in Paris, he and a group of rabbis ate only in kosher restaurants. On leaving Paris, Dr. Finkelstein joked, “I can’t understand all this fuss people make about French cooking. We have the same things at home.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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