For most people, exploring the delightful flavors of the many foods of the world is one of life’s simple but great pleasures. As long as one gives thanks for the food and makes certain that it is kosher, can there be too much of this good thing?
The over-enjoyment of food, which is called “gluttony,” is listed as one of the 365 negative commandments. The prohibition is based on several verses in the Torah, most notably Leviticus 19:2: “You shall be holy.”
Gluttony is also mentioned in the Book of Proverbs, which states: “Do not be among wine guzzlers, among gluttonous eaters of meat for themselves, for the guzzler and the glutton will become impoverished and slumber will clothe [them] with tatters” (23:20-21).
The Book of Proverbs also notes one difference between a righteous person and a wicked one that is noticeable in their eating habits: “The righteous eat to satisfy their souls, but the stomach of the wicked still wants” (13:25).
Gluttony is actually a form of greed, of a desire to meet a physical need in the most constant and enjoyable manner. Like all desires that create pleasure for the self (like greed or pride), every person risks falling into gluttony, and so the Sages warn: “Every scholar who feasts much in every place, eventually destroys his home, widows his wife, orphans his young, forgets his learning, and becomes involved in many quarrels; his words are unheeded, and he desecrates the Name of Heaven and the name of his teacher and the name of his father and causes an evil name for himself, his children, and his childrens’ children until the end of time” (Talmud Pesachim 49a).
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