The Baal Shem Tov once spent Shabbat in the town of Kolomaya, and on the night of Shabbat he sensed the presence in the town of a holy soul radiating great light. So he went out for a stroll to find that light. When he passed by a certain home, he saw the light radiating from it; he also heard, within, the sounds of singing and dancing. Seeing that the door was slightly ajar, he went in and saw Rabbi Yaakov Koppel dancing in ecstasy before his Shabbat table, which was laden with good food.

Rabbi Yaakov Koppel sang and danced for a long time until he finally stopped and noticed the Baal Shem Tov. He welcomed his guest warmly, and the Besht asked him, “Why do you sing and dance this way before eating?”

Rabbi Yaakov Koppel answered, “Before I partake of the physical food, I first stand in front of the table and absorb the food’s spiritual essence. Sometimes I become so aroused that I sing and dance.”

What is the food ’s “spiritual essence”? It is its divine aspect. A Jewish mystic meditates on how the food has been created and is being kept in existence (like all created things) every minute by G‑d’s will. And a person’s profound realization that G‑d has created this food to nourish and provide for him leads him to mystic joy.