> Weekly Torah Portion > Beginner > Straight Talk

The See-Food Diet

Shlach (Numbers 13-15 )

by Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt

I remember many years ago, as a little boy, watching our dog, Krishna, as he wolfed down his Pedigree Chum dog food. I was impressed by how excited he was, to the extent that he basically sucked it from the can and into his stomach without it seemingly touching the inside of his mouth.

As a young boy, there could only be one conclusion: It was the most wonderfully delicious food in existence. And of course, I had to try it. And so I did. It was not the most disgusting meal of my life - I think that octopus was worse, back in my pre-kosher days - but I did throw up afterwards and it was not a particularly pleasant experience.

In this week's portion, we are commanded not to "follow our eyes." The eyes see and the heart desires, the Sages tell us. What's missing in the middle of all that? The mind, of course. It's so easy for our eyes to see something and our heart to desire it and for us then to make a decision without even thinking about it.

My eyes see Pedigree Chum. My heart desires it. I forget to consult my mind, which would of course remind me that our dog also enjoyed eating rats in the back garden - and that perhaps our taste buds were programmed differently. But no, my eyes saw, my heart desired, and next thing I knew, it was horsemeat for dinner.

This is an extreme example. But our lives are rife with this stuff. The eyes see cheesecake. The heart desires it. Into the mouth it goes - forgetting the fact the body is on a diet because the mind was never consulted. The eyes see something new to buy. The heart desires it. Out comes the credit card, ignoring the fact that there is no money in the bank. The eyes see a beautiful woman. The heart desires her. Out of the window go responsibility, commitment, marriage and a whole lot more.

Don't follow your eyes, the Torah tells us. Follow your mind instead. Your eyes might lead to immediate gratification. But your mind is an infinitely better judge of what will ultimately make you happy.

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