Holistic Torah Study: Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum in Los Angeles
Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum visited Los Angeles this past week, bringing her special flavor of spirituality from Eretz Yisrael to Jewish women here. On Monday, February 13th, Rebbetzin Siegelbaum – an author and seminary director – conducted an annual dinner to benefit her seminary, Midreshet Be’erot Bat Ayin, where women of all ages engage in holistic Torah study. The dinner was hosted by Rena Hirsch in the La Brea neighborhood.
After the dinner, Rebbetzin Siegelbaum gave a lecture, open to the community, entitled Conscious Eating as a Mitzvah the Torah Way. She mentioned that food takes a central place in our tradition, to the extent that even completely unaffiliated Jews maintain “a culinary connection,” enjoying Jewish cuisine. “Food connects people on a very deep level,” said Rebbetzin Siegelbaum.
Just like human beings, food has both body and soul, she explained. There is also a connection between the soul of the person who cooks the food and the soul of the food. “If you put love into food, then whoever eats it feels the love,” Rebbetzin Siegelbaum said.
The current month of Shevat is an auspicious time to work on our eating, according to Sefer Yetzira. “In the month of Shevat, we’re able to elevate all the unholy eating throughout the year,” Rebbetzin Siegelbaum said. She explained that holy eating, which is what distinguishes a human being from an animal, is eating in order to know Hashem, so that we can serve Hashem in good health.
Many of us find it challenging to eat for the right reasons. While we should take pleasure in the variety of tasty food that Hashem created, our motivation for eating should be to satisfy our souls.
One aspect of holy eating is eating slowly, chewing our food thoroughly. Other practical aspects are eating small portions and eating at prescribed times. “The more we eat in holiness the more we can focus in prayer,” said Rebbetzin Siegelbaum. “… When we say brachos and eat in a holy way, we also get spiritual nourishment.” Rebbetzin Siegelbaum recommended asking Hashem in the beginning of each meal to help us eat this meal in holiness.
On Tuesday, February 14th, Rebbetzin Siegelbaum gave a lecture in the Pico area, entitled, From Chava to the Mother of Mashiach. In a cozy atmosphere, Rebbetzin Siegelbaum spoke to a mesmerized audience about the role of women throughout history, from Creation to the coming of Mashiach. In addition, former students of the Rebbetzin spoke about their positive and uplifting experiences at Midreshet Be’erot Bat Ayin.