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Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: "Eating is not a casual hedonistic act; it is a ceremony"

When the Temple stood, ritual sacrifice was itself an occasion for a communal meal in which man participated with the Higher Power in an act of communion.

To this day an ordinary table is considered to be a sort of altar at which the one who partakes of food performs an analogous act, however incompletely, elevating matter to the level of man by making it serve human purpose and drawing certain forces away from the world into the active domain of holiness.

Extreme care has therefore to be exercised with respect to what is eaten, and the manner in which one eats has to be consistent with the purpose of consecration.

Eating is not a casual hedonistic act; it is a ceremony.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From The Thirteen Petalled Rose by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz