middot enthusiasm mesorah l'chaim!


Written by  rebbetzin malkah

art-lchaim"It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to search out matters that are too deep." -- Mishlei 25:27

Sometimes it is tempting to have too much of a good thing and not be satisfied with the simple fare that life might dish up.  But be sure:  when you dabble in excess, you are left with baggage that the excessive behavior leaves behind.

appetite control

Whether we are speaking of eating, drinking, study, sleep, exercise, etc... the concept of appetite control is important in living a meaningful and balanced life.  Many times, people use an activity in excess to bring happiness, relieve stress or simply to forget.  The know repurcussions of this kind of behavior are not enough to deter; rather, a viscious cycle evolves of yo-yoing between abstinence and excess.  Make no mistake, this kind of living not only leads to social ills, disease but future unhappiness as well.  What might start out as a simple problem becomes exacerbated due to a lack of moderation.  And once that road is taken, the other middot will start to be affected without a doubt.

Controlling our appetites necessitates a desire for simplicity.  A $30 entree is not guaranteed to be better than one made at home or one purchased at a more modest price.  Running fifteen miles every day might bring off that extra weight, but perhaps a shorter run and moderation in eating could yield the same effect.  In the same vein, if we are zealous to study and always gravitate toward the mystical matters rather than the basic matters which will help build us in more foundational ways, we find that we miss out on learning to absorb and emulate that which will help us daily. One who enjoys working might pad the bank account, however too many hours spent working late rob time from family, friends and personal attention that one needs to give oneself.  Going over the top in our activities many times has the opposite effect: it leaves us wanting more and brings harm—either monetarily, physically, spiritually or socially.   By taking in more than we need or can handle, we find ourselves lost and swimming in our excess.

"When one engages in business or in an occupation to earn money, one should not be motivated by desire for gain alone, but by the necessity of supplying his basic requirements, such as food, drink, habitation, and marriage." -- The Ways of the Tzadikkim, The Gate of Love, pg 119

While it takes practice and time to come to an understanding of what the right proportions are in all activities, it is a worthwhile endeavor that deserves conscious and thoughtful attention.  If you have a tendency to go overboard in something, take time to reign in your appetite and seek the middle ground.  This is not only an act of compassion that we can do for ourselves but for the world around us as well.  L'chaim!

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