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Not a Hunger for Bread
by Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover

For many people around the world, we live in an era of food abundance. In the United States, for example, less than 20% of the population works in agriculture, yet they produce enough food to feed the entire country and even have some left over for export. Ironically, this very abundance has caused a host of health issues of its own. The World Health Organization estimates that a third of the world population suffers from obesity. When rich, sugary, fatty food is available in abundance, people will eat, far past the point of satiation.

The prevalence of obesity has already been declared an “epidemic,” and the health problems it causes exact a high price. The obese are at greater risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Recently even pediatricians have expressed concern about the rising rates of obesity found in children.

Researchers now believe that the source of obesity is in the brain. The part of the brain that is supposed to regulate appetite might not work effectively in conditions of abundance. Scientists are working on developing drugs that will suppress appetite in the brain, so people have a better chance of getting control over their eating habits.

The obesity epidemic, of eating and eating and never feeling full, has a spiritual counterpart. The Prophet Amos says: “Days are coming, says the L-rd, when I will send a famine in the land. Not a hunger for bread or a thirst for water, but to hear the words of G-d.” The prophet touches on the source of the problem: spiritual need. The soul thirsts for a direct bond with G-d. It longs for a revelation of G-dliness that will encompass and permeate its entire being, similar to what happened when G-d spoke on Mount Sinai.

How can we satisfy our spiritual hunger? Through study of Torah and fulfillment of Mitzvot. In the time of Redemption, G-dliness will be revealed and will be apparent even to our eyes of flesh. Then we will not have a need for physical food and drink, but will be sustained by the word of G-d alone.

Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University.



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