It is quite amazing how one word can capture an entire spiritual world outlook! In the course of our required daily routine of eating, often the salutation shared with the table is-"Bon Appetit!" What is wished for is that we enjoy and experience a hearty and healthy appetite, that the food we eat is consumed with relish, with taste buds bursting with flavor and every morsel filling us with pleasure. Needless to say, a good appetite is not always to be taken for granted. The ill, the elderly, not infrequently suffer from an absence of appetite that brings much sadness and frustration to their lives. Appetite is certainly a physiological , sensual even psychological capacity for which to be grateful.
The Hebrew language has two different words that are used as expressions of culinary greeting.
One, "Be'teiavon," meaning "with appetite," or one could say, with gusto and strong desire. This reflects the mind set of most people.It is synonymous with the above mention term-"bon appetit." Whenever I hear this wish expressed at my table, I am always reminded of a different Hebrew expression that suggests something of great spiritual importance. I am not referring to formal blessings prior to eating or drinking; this is an established practice among those who are religiously oriented. The word I have in mind is likewise articulated by those of a traditional religious inclination, a word that hearkens back to the Biblical mandate for the Grace After Meals. "La'Sovah"-to satisfaction is the salutation that bears with it the hope that the food to be eaten be a source of a satisfying experience leaving one thankful and grateful. The phrase in Deuteronomy-"You shall eat, be satisfied and bless the Lord" is implied in this one word that is derived from the second of the three activities indicated in this Mitzvah, in this religious act- Eat, be satisfied, bless.
Thus, the wish for a satisfying meal points less to our own personal, sensual experience and more to the Source of our gift of food with the awareness of being grateful and satisfied with the food that is available to us. Again, the blessing and the wish of "la'sovah"-may you experience contentment and gratefulness-is another everyday way by which to cultivate an enriching sense of gratefulness in our lives.
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