Parshat Toldot: Food
וַעֲשֵׂה־לִ֨י מַטְעַמִּ֜ים כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר אָהַ֛בְתִּי וְהָבִ֥יאָה לִּ֖י וְאֹכֵ֑לָה בַּעֲב֛וּר תְּבָרֶכְךָ֥ נַפְשִׁ֖י בְּטֶ֥רֶם אָמֽוּת׃
“Prepare a dish for me such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my innermost blessing before I die.”
It should not be a surprise that Isaac needs to prepare before giving his innermost blessing to his son. This moment at the end of his life, the climax of his relationship with his family and God will be the seminal moment for the next generation. He wants to be ready. What does Isaac require to prepare for this moment? He needs his favorite meal.To understand why this is the case, let’s review just the top and bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The bottom of the triangle, the most basic needs for a human being, are physiological. That is to say, the things that keep us alive: water, air, warmth, and, of course, food. The top of the chart called “self actualization” may be better understood as thriving. It includes exploration of meaning, and actualizing one’s inner potential.
Isaac was not starving. Quite the opposite: he was at the final tip of the chart and in need of the tools to speak from his soul and bless from the deepest part of himself. Why then did he request food?
The bottom of Maslow’s chart includes food as a basic requirement for keeping our bodies alive. When we have the food to sustain our bodies and we find ourselves at the top of the chart, the needs are transferred from nourishing the body to nourishing the soul. At that point the relationship with food changes, and we can ask ourselves: What are foods that nourish my soul? What are the foods that draw out the goodness and potential hidden within me?