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Why Jews Feel the Need to Nosh

Why Jews Feel the Need to Nosh

A Lesson From Parshat Vayeitzei


I sat waiting in the doctor’s office with my children. I watched them as they became totally engrossed in the toy trucks and games that were sprawled all over the waiting room. Suddenly, my son got up and started to walk towards the doctor’s offices. “Mommy, Mommy?” He had forgotten that I was right there, sitting behind him on the couch. “I’m right here, Avraham, I’m right here,” I reassured him. He flashed me a stunning smile, and we both laughed.

Sometimes, I feel like a robot Our Patriarch, Jacob, was forced to flee from his father’s home to avoid the wrath of his brother Esau. He was scared and alone. Jacob lay down to sleep and had a dream. There was a ladder with angels going up and angels going down. Suddenly, G‑d appeared in his dream and reassured him, “Jacob, I am here. I am with you wherever you go.”

My baby, she’s a nosher (snacker). At any time of the day, whether she’s hungry or whether she’s full, she will waddle over to me for a nosh. If I’m sitting, she pulls herself up on my lap and tugs at my shirt. If I’m standing, she tugs at my skirt. I know what she wants; she wants me to nurse her, she wants me to kiss her and comfort her. Sometimes, this snack only lasts a minute. It’s like her way of “checking in” to make sure that I’m still there and that I love her.

I have to tell you, I’m also a nosher—a prayer nosher and a blessing nosher—and I can’t tell you how much this keeps my sanity and enables me to get up the next morning to face a new day. I go through my routine, day after day, and sometimes I feel like a robot as I check off the activities on my list. “Make breakfast, feed kids, get everyone dressed, pack lunches, get everyone out the door, put baby down to nap, sit down to work, make lunch, iron shirts ... ” Like a pile of laundry, the list never ends. Then something happens to upset my perfect schedule, something outside of the neat list that I keep handy. A child gets a cold, I have a disagreement with a neighbor, a problem at work, a fight with a friend. I’m sitting in traffic, absolutely stuck, and I look up; it’s nosh time.

The snack isn’t about eating; it’s about knowing that I’m not alone “Um, excuse me, G‑d are you there? Can You help me out here?” I grab an apple and say a blessing on it before I take a bite. I nosh and I nosh, I check in and you know what? I feel better. I might be hungry, I might be full. The snack isn’t about eating; it’s about knowing that I’m not alone and that I’m being watched over.

Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely, G‑d is in this place and I did not know!”(Genesis 28:16) It was almost as though Jacob realized that he could connect to G‑d at any place and at any time, that G‑d is truly everywhere. Jews have a precious gift, the inherent ability to “nosh” at any time. Why do you think religious people say so many blessings? Why do you think Jews have so many commandments? Before eating and drinking, after eating and drinking, lighting Shabbat candles, lighting the menorah . . . the list goes on. Because it gives us a way to connect to G‑d to remember that He is here.

Originally from northern California and a Stanford University graduate, Elana Mizrahi now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and children. She is a doula, massage therapist, writer, and author of Dancing Through Life, a book for Jewish women. She also teaches Jewish marriage classes for brides.
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Mary library December 5, 2016

If you nosh on Torah and the spiritual wisdom of sages, you will have a vastly satisfying and unending supply. Reply

Anonymous Mesa, Arizona, USA December 1, 2011

Why Jews Nosh You are so right!! All my life I was seeking for Hashem. In a religion forced to my descendants. I did not know. But the Spirit was there, inside of me. Now I know. He has been teaching me many things. Including a language I never thought I would understand. If you all, who have lived your lives as Jewessess, find this feeling so amazing, guess what, I who never had this experience, until he called me... I am noshing, day, night, midnight, all the time. I cannot just let Him go. He knew me all along the way, since before I was born. Reply

david goldstein LONG BEACH, NY via December 9, 2008

That was beautiful! Reply

Cheryl New York, NY December 4, 2008

M.H. I agree with the author that making blessings so often really does remind you that yes, there is a G-d and He is here. I was once told that by making blessings and doing mitzvos, you make yourself a vessle to be able to see G-d's hand in your everyday life. And I have found it to be so eerily true. I recently started making blessings and paying close attention to say brachas (blessings) at the appropriate time, and ya know it really does open my eyes. I pray and ask G-d for things, and somehting will happen and im literally dumbfounded and say oh my G-d this is exactly what i prayed for! a direct answer! So hopefully by "checking in" with G-d, it will be revealed to you all the good He does and that He really is there Reply

Elana Mizrahi December 1, 2008

Response to your question. What a wonderful question, but if you are really so unsure, then I don't think that you are "checking in" enough and I encourage you to nosh even more! Unlike with food, in Torah there are no limits because the very Source of it all is infinite. With each step new challenges and questions will arise and your test very well might be to come even closer and explore Judaism more (instead of staying stagnant at one level). Reply

sarale November 30, 2008

thoughts on MH of FL/IL's comment like physical consuming of energy that's not expended causes unhealthy and unseemly weight gain, the energy we connect with has to have a positive outlet channel into our worlds. authentic judaism has little room for ivory-tower holies; i've got to do what i can, lil me in my lil circle, to make my world and thereby the world at large- g_d's world- a better place for us all. you could be PERPETUALLY plugged in, as long as you're outputting as least as much as you're taking in. Reply

M.H. North Miami Beach/Jerusalem, Florida/Israel November 30, 2008

noshing So, Elana, if physical noshing can make someone overweight, what is the result of spiritual noshing? After we've "checked in" making sure we're not alone, some people can't stop. What's a person to do when they're so unsure, that they can't limit their "checking in?" This could be physical or spiritual, and as we know, it's all connected. Reply

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