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Pleasure of Eating

Ki Tetzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19 )

by Rabbi Shraga Simmons

Parshat Ki Teitze includes an interesting labor law: When workers are picking produce in a field, like strawberries for example, they are permitted to eat as many strawberries as they want while they work. The Torah recognizes that it's cruel to give someone access to food - but deny them the right to eat it.

Based on the same reasoning, the Torah forbids one to muzzle an animal who is plowing a field.

There are some interesting extensions of this law. For example, it's forbidden to put food in front of guests - and then make them wait before eating. Can you imagine bringing out chicken to a holiday feast - but first making everyone sit through a 20-minute speech?!

Another interesting law was determined by the great 20th century American sage, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. He was asked about the commercial breeding of livestock, where they feed the animals chemicals in place of food. Based on this parsha, Rabbi Feinstein ruled that this practice is forbidden, since it deprives the animals of the pleasure of eating.

The Almighty has given us a world full of delicious foods and pleasures. The Talmud says that one of the first questions we'll be asked upon getting to Heaven is: "Did you taste all the different fruits?" God gave us access to these fruits, so that we would partake of them. Judaism stresses pleasure, not denial. The only condition is that we show appreciation to God for all that He so graciously gives us.

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