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Overcoming Boredom by Eating God for Rosh Hashanah

posted by Brad Hirschfield

There are many customs on Rosh Hashanah: blowing the shofar, eating apples dipped in honey, and long hours of prayer and meditation. But until I watched the cartoon adventures of Todd and God on You Tube, I never knew that taking communion was one of them. What else would you call the practice of God appearing to a young man and offering him the chance to consume God’s body as a way of experiencing spiritual renewal in the New Year?
Actually, I love the fact that this very funny video (complete with allusions to the Simpsons as well as Beavis and Buthead), produced to teach the practice of eating a new fruit on the second night of Rosh Hashanah, does so by taping in to the power of a practice that is synonymous with Christianity. It demonstrates the universal urges that we meet with particular practices. There is no such thing as a “Jewish spiritual need”, because Jews are not essentially different from other people. But there are brilliant Jewish practices which meet fundamental human spiritual needs, and this new fruit thing is one of them.
Boredom and lack of spiritual connection are challenges we all face. They are the root causes of so many problems in our lives, from cheating on our spouses (over 50% of Americans admit they do), to misery at work (over one third of us report that) to just feeling empty and lonely inside. Eating a piece of fruit, no matter how good it is, will not solve that. But we all need practices which renew us and help us feel that renewal is always possible. And it doesn’t hurt that this one acknowledges that even by the second day of the New Year, those feelings can set in.


The reason offered by this video for eating a new fruit on the second night of Rosh Hashanah is to experience the newness of the year. Ironically, for a cartoon that invokes Jewish tradition, this rationale is not found in any classical Jewish sources! But that’s great. It means that the deepest tradition is to infuse new meaning into received practices so that they both connect us to past generations and work for us in the present. When we do that, we find the relief we seek from the boredom we feel and fill the void we feel inside.
God offers Todd all kinds of exotic fruits to fulfill this practice, but Todd has had them all. Like many of us in this globalized world, there is nothing we can not get and very little we have not already tried. What Todd needs is not something exotic, what he needs is intimacy, a direct connection with God. That is what he has not had in a great while. And all of the exciting alternatives which God offers are pointless. Todd needs to eat God – to feel God inside of him.
Where do you find that direct connection? Wherever it is, that is where you belong. And I hope that in the coming year, we are all blessed to be in that place as often as we need to be. Because when we are, we overcome the boredom which we only think comes from the outside. We finally remember that novelty is no replacement for intimacy, and that intimacy can always be renewed whether it is with God, our job, or the people we love.



  • eastcoastlady

    I find the idea of “eating G-d” and communion in general pretty – well, it turns me off. I can’t figure out how eating something supposed to represent the “body” of G-d Himself works. It must be the basic premise of accepting the idea of Hashem in corporeal form. It’s almost like cannibalism, and to me, disprespectful. Ick.
    I prefer the Jewish idea that we all have the divine spark within us. G-d is already inside each and every one of us. We don’t need “saving” from outside; we’re not born sinful.
    Sincere apologies to those who might be offended by the first paragraph of my post, but the idea of Communion is so foreign to me and the idea on which it’s based so antithetical to Judaism that it’s just totally unacceptable to me. Maybe it’s a question of not truly understanding what Communion means, but something that sounds like, “This is my body,” and, “this is my blood,”, just sounds ghoulish to me.
    Accepting new foods and loving one’s family and seeing that so many pleasures in life are gifts from G-d – well, that one’s easy.

  • Blondie

    Communion and partaking of “The Body of Christ” was a New Testament quote from Jesus Himself…It was from the bread and wine served at the Last Supper..which was a Passover meal. We are to partake of Communion in rememberance of Him. Catholics only believe that it is the leteral body…Protestant Christians do not.
    And actually we are born into sin..Adams sin. “Through one man’s sin we have all been born into sin…but, through the Saving Grace of The Lord God Almighty and His Son Jesus..He will cancel out the debt.
    This salvation comes from the Spirit..so it is indeed from “within”.
    I hope this post has been helpful.

  • Ruvain

    This video is too hysterically funny for words, too bad the rabbi is clueless about what it’s being said. “Yes, we should eat the new fruit on Rosh Hashannah.” Ahhh, new fruit!

  • chaim baruch-chaim

    I’m with you, eastcoastlady. The cannibalistic overtones of Christian communion and the language surrounding it are, shall we say, unpleasant. And Roman Catholic theology of the mass holds that the wine and bread of communion are mystically transformed into the actual (though not precisely physical) body and blood of their savior.
    But to be fair, there are a wide range of theologies of communion within the various branches of Christianity. Many Protestants view it all as “merely” symbolic and do not think of what they do physically as anything more than eating bread and drinking wine or grapejuice while spiritually they see themselves as “identifying” with their savior, not eating him.
    And there are some forms of Christianity which also hold that “there is that of God in everyone,” the divine spark, the inner light, and so forth. Those who hold this belief generally do not believe that a particular ritual or belief is necessary to bring the divine presence into one but that the divine is innate within everyone and need only be acknowledged.
    In the earliest days of Christianity, before any formal theology of communion had been developed yet, and before Christian orthodoxy had made mandatory a belief in the divinity of the man Jesus, the predecessor event was a potluck meal, called a love feast.
    There’s a lot of interesting stuff there. But the divide between an incorporeal God (a God who is, at essence, beyond attributes) to an incarnate one (a God who is defined by attributes) is, at best, very difficult to bridge.
    “Accepting new foods and loving one’s family and seeing that so many pleasures in life are gifts from G-d – well, that one’s easy.” You said it, eastcoastlady!
    L’Shalom,
    Chaim

  • Ruvain

    Dear Blondie,
    Your post is helpful in explaining the distinction between Catholic and Protestant theology, but that subject is irrelevant to Jews. We have no need for salvation, and there is a good argument that FAITH as used in the Christian sense is SIN. The concept of salvation is so antithetical to Jewish Tradition that it is one way for a person to exclude himself from the Jewish people. We are, after all, a People and not a religion.

  • Scott

    Ruvain, Ruvain, Ruvain
    It’s not nice to tease the ignoranti. There must be 8709 types of fruit that Todd has eaten.

  • Laureen Pittman

    What a beautiful article. I was surfing the web when I found this gem. You are so right when you said,”What Todd needs is not something exotic, what he needs is intimacy, a direct connection with God. That is what he has not had in a great while. And all of the exciting alternatives which God offers are pointless. Todd needs to eat God – to feel God inside of him.” God does today provide this for His children. I have found this in the Catholic Church. Every time I go to mass I am invited by God to partake of His Body and Blood in the form of the Eucharist. Jesus Christ gave this gift to us in the Last Supper. He knew that we need to feel God inside of us, to receive His love and strength in this Sacrament. Heis also loving and wise. He knew that if we visually eat, taste, smell and feel His body and blood in our senses as real human flesh and blood, we would be totally grossed out! So for our sake He doesn’t let us see this true transubstantiation. How Do I know? Faith. Then there are also physical manifestations of His body and blood all over the world that have been scientifically verified such as the Eucharistic Miracle of LANCIANO ITALY, 750 A.D. This website is loaded with them! http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/a3.html. I know that personally, when I partake of the Eucharist daily, I hear God’s voice so much better. I also have more peace in my soul and strength to carry on.
    To have more understanding of this, the Vatican Website has the Catechism, the belief of the Catholic Church on it. I like the Catechism cause it gives the reasons why the Catholic Church believes as it does. It is very in-depth. It is http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/ccc_toc.htm. Please forgive me if I sound like a sales person. I am not. I just love God so much and have found the fullness and riches of Him in the Catholic Church more so than anywhere else in this world. Thank you for your wonderful article and letting me share my experiences. God bless you.

  • Blondie

    Ruvain…Thank you for your comment regarding the differences of our beliefs..and I stand in agreement that you are indeed a People. Actually you are THE PEOPLE..God’s chosen ones.. You will never get an argument out of me on that…because of Jesus though, I believe that my Savior (a Jew) has already come and will come again..There in Him lies my salvation.
    Scott..It is also not nice to be insulting or smug.

  • eastcoastlady

    Blondie, thanks for your attempts to explain to me.
    But, as Ruvain said, being born into sin and the need for salvation – well, not a Jewish concept. But again, thanks for giving your point of view and for trying to help me “get” it.

  • Blondie

    Dear E lady…
    Whether or not you “get” it is between you and God. As far as being born into sin, “All have fallen short of the Glory of God”..”no one is without sin…no not one, except The Lord God.”..unless you are suggesting that because you are a Jew that you are sinless.

  • Lucy

    I watched the video and was not particularly charmed by it but it has that ugly cartoon look that does not appeal to me. I found it rather unpleasantly bizarre. I would assume however, that the symbolism refers to the idea that the spirit of God resides within all of us, because everything, including the air we breathe and the delicious fruit we eat, is a gift from him. (I know, God is not really a “him” but I needed a pronoun!)
    I understand Eastcoastlady’s distaste for the idea of communion. I grew up with elements of both the Jewish and Christian traditions and even as a child, found communion disturbing. Since the Christian portion of my background is Protestant, the idea was commemoration, not transubstantiation, but I still was disquieted by the words, “This is my body and this is my blood.” It, along with the concept of the Trinity, may be why I gravitated toward Judaism. I know, however, I still carry some ideas that would seem more “Christian” than “Jewish.” I guess I will always be something of a heretic…
    Blondie’s post about communion was relevant because the Rabbi brought up the subject and Eastcoastlady commented on it. Also, though the Jewish concepts of sin and redemption are not the same as the Christian concept, we still atone for our sins (if we can) on Yom Kippur. We seek forgiveness from God for sins between us and God, and forgiveness from other people if we have transgressed against them. In the end, we hope to be written in the book of life! Anyway, for those of you studying English literature, or with teenagers studying it in high school, it is important to be familiar with the concepts of sin and redemption. It is the theme of every novel written by Charles Dickens! (I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist!)
    Have a wonderful Rosh Hashanah, everyone and let’s try to be kind to each other. The world has enough problems.
    Lucy G.

  • linda

    It is weird to have jewish people eat communion -i never heard of that .but you know both Jewish sites on Beliefnet seem to be both jewish with a good helping of christian flavored things-which helps me in my own journey…On a important note, Communion is VERY IMPORTANT to the Christian faith and I hope you can connect to God though it although you have to repent of sins and then eat it….not just eat it carelessly.

  • pagansister

    Totally enjoyed the educational cartoon!
    Blondie, no one is “born into sin”. That is a “Christian” concept. Are we all perfect? No, but most people are good people, but do on occasion, do “bad” things. Is that “sinful”? Depends on the difinition of “sin.” Folks don’t have to belive in JC or his supposed special mission. He was a great teacher, but, IMO, just one of many, many teachers throughout time, not the only teacher, by any means.

  • Tzvi

    Blondie,
    That’s the difference between Christians and jews. As Jews, we beleieve that we are born Tabula Rasa, that is a Clean Slate as far as Sin, and we die, not necessarily without sin, but with the beliefe that we can repent, even on our Deathbed. As it is written:”I do not desire the deaths of Sinners, but that that they Cease from Sinning”.
    Loved the cartoon, though as a side note, during the Middle ages, the idea of the Communion wafer being the “body”, gave rise to host desecration charges that were levelled against jews, and other people, that they actually could “torture” the wafer.

  • pagansister

    As mentioned above by some posters, even with the differences between Catholic and Protestant communities, Communion reminds me of cannibalism and I was raised in a Protestant church, which I subsequently left at an early age. Communion is right up there with the symbol of the RCC, Jesus hanging on the cross. That is to me is a horrible way to represent a religion. The cross all by itself works, but why raise kids looking at a man being tortured? No sense in that. Enough violence in the world. However this article is about a very cool cartoon to teach about day 2 of Rash Hashanah, and I wish the folks who celebrate this hoiday a Happy one.

  • Ruvain

    Dear Blondie,
    Your posts exhibit an annoying aspect of some Christians — the belief that they have the one right answer to life and everyone else is wrong. Some Christians believe that only through Faith in Jesus can anyone be saved. Due to this narrowed minded belief, such Christians have no respect for other people. They say “G-d is LOVE,” but if one does not believe in an absurd myth of a 1/2 man 1/2 G-d dying for people’s sins (a concept with makes no sense) that person will suffer eternal damnation in HELL.
    We Jews say that our ways are appropriate for us, but there is no reason other people should follow Jewish customs. Your choice not to be a monotheist is fine with us. There is no reason that Christians have to adhere to the Shema. If Christians want to participate in symbolic cannibalism, that’s fine. If they want to erect gigantic phallic symbols as part of their churches and then denounce sex, we may privately comment upon the silliness, but it’s a free country and you believe what you want.
    The harm arises when the “Know it All” faction of Christianity insists their religious beliefs must be imposed on everyone else. They want myth of Creationism taught in public schools, they want to place prayer in public schools, they to limit the medical information doctors may give on birth control, they keep Gays out of the military thereby undermining the nation’s military preparedness in the time of war, they forced alcohol Prohibition upon the entire nation with horrible results, and they are the major reason that the country still have Prohibition for certain drugs. They insist other religions give up their beliefs about when life begins. For people like Blondie, it is not enough that America gives them freedom of religion. They interpret their freedom of religion to mean that the government must make their religious dogma into law. These type of Christians have no tolerance for other Christians whom they declare are going to Hell along with the Jews, the secularists and the Humanists and everyone else who is the least bit different from them.
    With Gay Marriage, for example, they want to retract the unalienable right of Liberty and prevent any other religion from sanctioning Gay marriage. Nothing in Gay Marriage forces any religion to marry Gays if they do not want to do so. The “exclusivistic” Christians insist, however, that the State permit only the type marriage which they recognize. At one time, they made divorce illegal and before that they insisted that inter-racial marriages be illegal. So, while people like Blondie believe that they LOVE others, their actions show an extreme intolerance for other people.
    Lastly, these things would not be said in public if the this aspect of Christianity did not demand that its religious dogma be imposed upon everyone.

  • Scott

    Ruvain,
    There you go again, teasing the Ignoranti. There’s a Christian saying, “Don’t throw pearls before swine.”
    Fundies “love” Jews the way pit bulls love raw meat — we’re only good for devouring.
    If we don’t throw our collective hands into the air shouting, “Lordie, Lordie I have seen the Light,” then as you say, we can all burn in hell.
    It does seem apt on a subconscious level that the cannibals want to swallow up the Jewish people into the body of Jesus. (Yuk)

  • Blondie

    Dear Ruvain and even dearer Scott,
    Wow, you guys are way out of my league..Here I am a lowly little Christian girl trying to “share the love” and you guys are eating me alive..ha-ha! I guess it’s not just the Catholics who are “cannibals.”
    On a more serious note, each of my posts have only explained what MY beliefs are…I have never suggested or told or even implied that anyone who did not accept Jesus as their Savior was going to hell…Your salvation is between you and God.
    And the way I have been treated here really surprizes me…Are my opinions and beliefs REALLY the intolerant ones? But then again, just because you are so “self rightous” I guess is indeed me!
    Thank you and you all have a nice day!

  • chaim baruch-chaim

    Blondie,
    I do not know you, and so the picture I get of you from your posts could be completely wrong. But your posts remind me somewhat of my Christian grandmother. I have no doubt that her conscious motives were not bad. However, she would say hurtful things against her family members who were not Christian claiming that all the negativity that came out of her mouth was because she was concerned for the eternal souls of her family members. My Christian cousins think she was a saint. I saw her as manipulative and unkind to a part of her family who would have been happy to love her for who she was despite the differences in identity and belief except that she kept throwing it up as a roadblock and then insisting that she was the aggrieved and injured party when we expressed our dislike of her tactics.
    I hope that my memories have no relationship to who you are. But people will respond to you on the basis of their prior experiences with other people, many of whom also thought of themselves as “spreading the love” but who nonetheless function within a position identified with the “dominant” religious culture. The person who is part of the majority should realize that personal and group history has colored the responses certain statements will bring from those in the minority. So if you as a Christian in a Christian-majority part of the world are speaking to Jews (and others not of your group), you should be aware of phrases or concepts that are likely to raise the hackles of those you are addressing. The fact that these are “your” beliefs does not mitigate the tension or likelihood of negative response to certain formulations.
    L’Shalom,
    Chaim

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