This is a guest post by Sorelle Weinstein, who is Communications Director of Chabad of Riverdale in New York. She has edited over sixty published works over the course of her career. Visit FlowingPens to view her edited works and read her blog “Double Take.”
The morning after Purim, I woke up to the sound of a chair being dragged across the kitchen floor. Apparently the top shelf of the cabinet was not the best hiding place for the bulging bags of Purim candy. My daughter was not deterred. Candy bars falling out of her pockets, she told me sheepishly she just wanted to “see something.” It took me a few minutes to recover from feeling initial anger at her deception. Finally composed, I shared with her that I too had stood on many chairs in my childhood and I too snuck candy into my pockets.
Who’s to Blame?
The gift-giving, costume-wearing, treat-distributing holiday of Purim had produced a sensory overload in my children that was impossible to ignore. But who is to blame? The children? The minute the treats entered the house their tongues began to salivate. If they HADN’T gone on a hard target search for their candy, it would have been a REAL shock.
Some may say, “It’s just a bit of fun.” or “It’s just one day out of the year.” But are we really talking about merely this one day? Are we more health conscious on Chanukah with our oil-soaked donuts and fried latke binges? Are we that careful on Shavuot with our chocolate peanut butter cheesecakes? How much food do we prepare each week for Shabbat and the six-course meals for dinner, lunch, and seudah shlishit?
Do we truly show our children that all things are better in moderation?
In today’s world, we enjoy a heightened consciousness of the importance of a healthy diet and active lifestyle. Many of us are making great strides in our fitness and running regimes and are embarking on new lifestyles that promise us improved health and appearance. But it seems to me that there is a disconnect in the message that we transmit to our children.
Can we say, as Orthodox Jewish parents, that we are working hard enough to educate our kids about the commandment to look after our bodies?
Food for Thought
Our Jewish calendar is replete with holidays whose names conjure up thoughts of excessive baking, eating, and sitting around the table all day. It seems like an almost impossible feat to incorporate health, moderation, and mindfulness into our holiday observance. But if we are truly to teach the next generation about the importance – nay, the mitzvah – of a healthy attitude toward food, then we will need to rethink the way we approach eating over the holidays, and prioritize our children’s health over our desire to maintain the status quo that we justify in the name of tradition and keep up with the Goldbergs.