Thou Shalt Not Overeat

Most religions have strong injunctions against gluttony.

BY: Rebecca Phillips

 

Continued from page 3

In addition to Ramadan, Islam places conditions on day-to-day eating. The Muslim dietary laws are called

halal

. Halal means "lawful" in Arabic. Halal meat must be killed according to Muslim slaughtering laws, similar to the Jewish laws of kashrut.



Judaism

Jews are known for noshing, but gluttonous overeating is certainly not the Jewish way. Observant Jews turn every instance of eating into a sacred act, and the blessings uttered over any food that gets ingested are an impediment to uncontrolled eating. Judaism also discourages gluttony by the laws of kasruth, or

keeping kosher

, the strict dietary laws. The word kosher's Hebrew root means "proper" or "correct." Rules governing what can be eaten help people impose and understand self-control.

But Jews are not staunch ascetics, and Judaism does allow for occasional over-indulgence. On the holiday of Purim, for example, Jews are encouraged by the Talmud to drink until they cannot tell the difference between the words "Blessed be Mordechai" and "Cursed be Haman."

Paganism

Earth-based religions are often associated with gluttony because of stereotypes of ancient pagan revelry, including eating and drinking. Pagans do celebrate food--the pagan festival cycle that is still followed originates from the agricultural cycle of planting and harvest. Contemporary pagans tend to treat their food and their bodies with more reverence, especially because of their awareness of human's place in nature, their concern for the earth, and their treating all living things with respect. Modern Pagans also emphasize taking care of members of the community, and overeating or gluttony leaves less for others.

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