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PART ONE
PART TWO
PART THREE
PART FOUR
PART FIVE

We left off in Part Four discussing whereby when God created each part of the creation he saw that “it was good.”  The light, the land, the vegetation and seed bearing plants/trees, the heavens, every living creature on the face of the earth and in the seas, humankind – all together God saw that it was “very good.”  (Genesis 1)

The passage from 1 Timothy 4 we have been discussing would, therefore, best be understood as highlighting how God’s creation, which was so beautifully described in Genesis 1, should be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth, as it is God’s gift to us and was pronounced good by him.

4. Jewish Tradition and Food

In this context it is interesting to analyse how Jewish tradition has understood the blessing of food before meals. I believe this may actually be closer to Paul’s worldview compared to the Graeco-Roman culture within which Christianity initially grew, and the other cultures it has been influenced by. Interestingly, in Jewish tradition meat and fish, together with animal foods, come last in the list of foods to be blessed, and do not actually receive a specific blessing over them but only a general one. They are not even mentioned by name and come last; in many ways their blessing appears concessionary:[1] this helps to show the limited place meat and fish actually have, at least symbolically, in Jewish tradition and what were considered the important ‘foods’. On the contrary, plant-foods of various kinds come first and each category receives a specific blessing. If bread is eaten this is blessed first and the blessing over it covers all foods except wine/grape juice. On Sabbaths and festivals wine/grape juice is the first to be blessed. The order of blessing, bracha, when there is no bread is: 1) Wine/Grape Juice, 2) Baked grains, 3) Tree fruits, 4) Vegetables, 5) all the other foods, including meat and fish.[2] It is especially important to read the texts of the various blessings in order to understand how Jewish tradition in the final blessing, the Shehakol — which simply means ‘by whose word all things come to be’ — does not even directly bless, or mention, animal foods but merely blesses God more generally as Creator, and for his Word:

1) Hamotzi: The Blessing on Bread

 בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַמּוֹצִיא לֶחֶם מִן הָאָרֶץ:

BA-RUCH A-TAH A-DO-NOI
ELO-HAI-NU ME-LECH HA-O-LAM
HA-MO-TZI LE-CHEM MIN HA-A-RETZ.
Blessed are You, L-rd our Gd, King of the
Universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.

 2) Mezonot: The Blessing on the Five Grains

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא מִינֵי מְזוֹנוֹת

 BA-RUCH A-TAH A-DO-NOI
ELO-HAI-NU ME-LECH HA-O-LAM
BO-RAI MI-NAI ME-ZO-NOT.
Blessed are You, L-rd our Gd, King of the
Universe, Who creates various kinds of sustenance.

3) Hagafen: The Blessing on Wine & Grape Juice

 בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

 BA-RUCH A-TAH A-DO-NOI
ELO-HAI-NU ME-LECH HA-O-LAM
BO-RAI PRI HA-GA-FEN.
Blessed are You, L-rd our Gd, King of the
Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine.

4) Ha’etz: The Blessing on Fruits

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָעֵץ

 BA-RUCH A-TAH A-DO-NOI
ELO-HAI-NU ME-LECH HA-O-LAM
BO-RAI PRI HA-AITZ.
Blessed are You, L-rd our Gd, King of the
Universe, Who creates the fruit of the tree.

 5) Ha’adamah: The Blessing on Vegetables

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה:

 BA-RUCH A-TAH A-DO-NOI
ELO-HAI-NU ME-LECH HA-O-LAM
BO-RAI PRI HA-A-DA-MAH.
Blessed are You, L-rd our Gd, King of the
Universe, Who creates the fruit of the earth.

 6) Shehakol: The Blessing on All Other Foods, including Meat and Fish

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהַכֹּל נִהְיָה בִּדְבָרוֹ:

 BA-RUCH A-TAH A-DO-NOI
ELO-HAI-NU ME-LECH HA-O-LAM
SHE-HA-KOL NI-H’YAH BI-D’VA-RO.
Blessed are You, L-rd our Gd, King of the
Universe, by Whose word all things came to be.[3]

Stay tuned for Part Six coming soon! Link for Part Four, and for those who want to read the entire article:

1 Timothy 4 and Veganism- A Closer Look.


[1] See also: Andrew Linzey and Dan Cohn-Sherbock, After Noah (London: Mowbray, 1997), 56-58.
[2] Richard H. Schwartz, Judaism and Vegetarianism (New York: Lantern Books, 2001), 10-11.
[3] “Texts of Blessings Before Eating,” Chabad.org, accessed March 13, 2018, https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/90551/jewish/Texts-of-Blessings-Before-Eating.htm.


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