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Food for all?

Many Jews are aware of certain problematic theological aspects in Birkat HaMazon, the blessings said after each time we eat bread. I’d like to call attention to a line that occurs very early in these blessings, in the second line. After the opening line of the blessing, there is a line that states “hu noten lechem l’chol basar,” He (God) gives bread to all men. How can we recite this line after each time we eat bread when we know for a fact that there are many hungry, even starving, people in the world, who clearly do not have bread to eat, let alone protein, fresh fruit, or full meals.

I believe the answer to this problem lies in the liturgy as well, in the Ashrei, Psalm 145. About two-thirds of the way through, there is a line that reads “v’atah noten lahem et achlam b’ito,” You (God) give them their food in its proper time. This line is a bit confusing: what is the proper time for food? I would like to suggest that this line implies that we cannot sit idly and expect all people to have food, but that there need to be specific actions taken in order for this “proper time” to arrive. Due to the unique challenges of exploding populations, evolving economies and expanding technologies, the landscape of food growth, development and distribution is changing rapidly. It is, however, readily acknowledged by many that “the world produces enough food to feed everyone. World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories per person per day.” (worldhunger.org)

The challenge, then, is presented to us to affect the necessary changes that will enable all people to receive their food. This time can be now, but it will not happen of its own accord. We must acknowledge the problems of world hunger, analyze potential actions thoroughly, and then take action towards bringing necessary resources to as many people as possible. In this Passover season, I hope that one day we will all, as a world population, be liberated from the slavery of hunger and move towards the freedom of having enough to eat, not just by the grace of God, but also by the efforts of each of us, so that all will receive enough bread (or matza) to eat.

(If nothing else, give a quick click to thehungersite.com : quick, easy, helpful.)

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