May 29, 2024
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Stirring Up the Soul: Finding Spirituality in Food

Highlighting: “A Kabbalah of Food: Stories, Teachings, Recipes” by Rabbi Hanoch Hecht. Monkfish Book Publishing. 2020. English. 280 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1948626316.

Food and storytelling have always been central to Jewish life. Hanoch Hecht, a member of the renowned Chabad chasidic rabbinical family and the first rabbi to compete on Food Network’s “Chopped,” has combined those passions in “A Kabbalah of Food: Stories, Teachings, Recipes,” coming this November and available now for pre-order through booksellers.

It’s said the key to one’s heart is through the stomach; food can also be a pathway to the soul. In “A Kabbalah of Food,” Rabbi Hecht cooks up a feast of inspiring tales and teachings around food and eating from the Kabbalah, a mystical part of the Torah, which, until the 16th century, was available only in secret to a select few.

The book includes the author’s favorite Jewish recipes, traditional and reimagined—from latkes and brisket to pickles and hummus—to nourish both body and soul on holidays and every day. Many of the recipes are simple enough to make with children, and the stories and teachings illustrate how taking a mindful and joyful approach to cooking, sharing and enjoying food, can create a dwelling place for God within us and spark godliness in our physical world. The book is a celebration of the joy and power of faith in acts of mitzvot, and will help readers understand and observe kashrut, or kosher dietary guidelines, translated as “fit to eat.”

Judaism is unique among religions for having many laws connected to food—not just prohibitions about what can be eaten, but also what may be consumed together, and when, and how the food must be prepared. “Food and its rituals at home have helped Judaism survive almost 4,000 years,” says Rabbi Hecht. “We must transform food’s energy into spirituality or doing something positive—acts of kindness or good deeds, where every morsel can reveal spiritual dimension.”

Rabbi Hecht’s love of cooking developed when he was a misbehaving child who spent time in detention with the school’s cook, who shared with him her love of cooking and the secrets of her preparations.

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