Here’s a recent conversation between me and my kids (the abridged version, with some adult lingo thrown in for clarity’s sake):

Kids: “Why did G‑d make us with a need to eat?”

Me:What would happen if we didn’t eat? “Great question! Well, let’s think: Why do we eat? Or the flip side: What would happen if we didn’t eat?”

Kids: “If many days went by without eating, we couldn’t survive.”

Me: “Aha! So we need food—something outside of ourselves—in order to survive. Well, imagine if G‑d had not made us that way. Picture being able to just go and go and go, day after day, without eating or drinking.”

Kids: “That would be so cool!” (Apparently, someone forgot how much they love mac-and-cheese.)

Me: “Hmm ... But we might also begin to think that we can survive without any outside life source. We might start to believe that our lives are lived by virtue of our own strength and power.”

Kids: Thinking ...

Me: “So I wonder if our needing to eat so many times a day ...

(For those of you that know us, the Cotlar children like to eat many times a day.)

“ ... is a way of G‑d giving us so many opportunities each day to never forget that our lives are not lived by virtue of our own capabilities.

“Our reliance on a food and water outside of our bodies is a very tangible reminder that we human beings depend on something outside ourselves for every breath we take. We rely on G‑d, the One that breathes life into us anew every single second of the day. The mitzvah to say a special blessing before eating and drinking is in recognition of this.”

Bingo! It actually resonates with them. I thanked G‑d for putting the right words into my head to help answer their question.

The different blessings said on the various food groups is actually one of my favorite mitzvahs to teach my kids.

There they are sitting at the table, about to excitedly dig in to their bowl of mac-and-cheese or take a bit of that frosted sprinkle cupcake.

But then, pause!

This is my moment to teach them to use their uniquely human gift of mind over matter. To remember the true Source of their food and nourishment. To recognize that their life is gifted to them each second of the day and night by a Higher Divine force. To thank G‑d. And with the recognition of where our every breath comes from is a reminder of how that life is meant to be used—to make the world a more G‑dly, holy, kind and beautiful place.

AndBingo! It actually resonates only then do they dig in to said mac-and-cheese.

This conversation with my children brought to mind this most beautiful mitzvah of the blessings recited before eating and drinking. If you’re looking for new resolutions, it’s a great idea to take on the mitzvah of reciting the appropriate blessing before eating.

The blessings are short, just one sentence long. It doesn’t take much to learn the different food groups and their respective blessings. It can actually be a fun family activity or game to figure out which blessing is said on each particular food.

For now though, I gotta run and put up another pot of mac-and-cheese.