When We Are Satisfied
Yael Eckstein | August 16, 2022
When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land He has given you. — Deuteronomy 8:10
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Eikev, which means “therefore” or “heel,” from Deuteronomy 7:12–11:25.
When I was growing up, I was always a bit self-conscious when I practiced Judaism in public. For example, when I blessed my food before and after eating it, I worried that people might think that I was a crazy person, talking to myself or to my sandwich.
So, I was very relieved when my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, of blessed memory, pointed out to me that many Christians also thank God before eating and that it is considered totally normal.
Today, I have many Christian friends that say grace before eating food, just like I do, and I know that in other faiths, it is a common practice as well. As people of faith, thanking God for our food is a natural and beautiful thing to do. Just before we enjoy the pleasure of eating, it makes sense to acknowledge that our food is a gift from God, and to thank Him for it.
But for Jews, the main prayer thanking God for our food isn’t said before we eat — although we thank God before we eat, too. The main prayer is said after we eat. In Judaism, we say a lengthy “Grace after Meals.”
When We Are Satisfied
The biblical source for the obligation to praise and thank God after we have eaten is found in this week’s Torah portion where we read, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land He has given you.”
Here, we are clearly instructed to praise God after we have eaten. But why does the Bible tell us to thank God specifically after eating? Is it any different than thanking God before we dig into our food?
The rabbis explained that there is a big difference in thanking God before we eat and in thanking Him after. They key word in the verse is “satisfied.” Before we eat, we are still hungry. It’s natural to thank God when we still feel lacking and He fills our need.
The sad fact of human nature is that once our needs have been met and we are satisfied, we are far less likely to acknowledge the source of our blessings. Those who are not needy are often lax in feeling grateful for what they have. That is why the Bible specifically tells us that we must thank God when we are satisfied, not just when we are in need.
Take some time today to thank God for all that you have and may sometimes take for granted.