For My angel will go before you, and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivvites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them. You shall not prostrate yourself before their gods, and you shall not serve them, and you shall not follow their practices, but you will tear them down and you will completely shatter their monuments. And you will serve Hashem your God, and He will bless your bread and water and I will remove sickness from your midst. (Mishpatim 23:23-25)
In Parshat Mishpatim, the Torah teaches us numerous laws. One of these laws commands us to not serve idols, and in fact, to destroy idols. The next verse says, “You will serve Hashem, your God, and He will bless your bread and your water, and I will remove sickness from your midst.”
When the Torah says “serve Hashem your God,” this is referring to prayer, which is the most profound way to serve Hashem. Prayer is what helps us develop a relationship with Hashem and is referred to as a “service of the heart”; true prayer comes from the heart. Rebbe Nachman tells us that when a person prays properly with focus and intention, Hashem blesses him, so that even bread and water can cure him from an illness.
When the Rebbe was young, he not only used to say the regular prayers after meals, but would also thank Hashem for every morsel of food he ate, using Yiddish, the Jewish vernacular in Ukraine. He would enumerate each item of food. Thank you for the piece of cake I ate. Thank you for the radishes I ate. Thank you for the tea I drank. He would thank Hashem for each item he had eaten because he wanted to cultivate the awareness that Hashem gave him his food.
Each of us can meditate on and connect with the idea that Hashem is the Source of our food, and that He lovingly gives us enough food to provide the nutrients and energy we need (and often a whole lot more). Even bread and water can cure us if we are able to fully understand that Hashem is the Source. Even bread and water can cure us if we thank Hashem with all our hearts, through the service of prayer, for everything He gives us.
May you have a day in which you are nourished, body and soul.
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