I was perusing a a Mishna, as one is wont to do, when I came across a slightly unnerving phrase in Nedarim 7:8:

אָסוּר לֶאֱכֹל

he may not eat

Well, that was a bit disconcerting. I happen to eat quite frequently, so if that happens to be forbidden, I'm in a bit of a pickle (and I wouldn't even be able to eat my way out of it!).

But at this point, I wasn't too worried. I mean, I know that the Mishna is the basis for Jewish law and practice, however it is not the final word on our heritage. It gets defined and interpreted through the lens of the later codes and commentaries. So I figured it would be best if I dug a little deeper.

And this is where the trouble began. I checked to see what the Gemara had to say about this, and lo and behold, Berachos 42a also says "אסור מלאכול - he is forbidden to eat". And to make things worse, this is brought down through the codes as well, with the Rambam in the laws of Leavened and Unleavened Bread 6:12 writing " וְכֵן אָסוּר לֶאֱכֹל " as the Halacha! This goes all the way through the Shulchan Aruch (in O"C 476:2), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (10:16), and even contemporary works like the Mishnah Berurah (568:18)!

How in the world is one supposed to explain all these sources saying it's forbidden to eat? If it was one or two places, I could understand if you said that maybe in context it means something else, but 5 or 6 examples? There must be some sort of deep, spiritual message behind this! It's not like you can just plug the words אסור לאכל into Sefaria search and come up with hundreds of quotes out of context!

What am I supposed to do? It's almost lunchtime and I'm getting hungry. Please help!

This question is Purim Torah and is not intended to be taken completely seriously. See the Purim Torah policy.

  • 8
    It would be funnier if no one answered you, leaving you starving... Mar 12, 2019 at 17:11
  • 1
    @רבותמחשבות Sorry - but I was hungry too ... until I found the answer! Mar 12, 2019 at 18:00
  • 3
    Make sure to speak to your rabbi and your nutritionist before implementing anything you read here. Or anything you find in the sources using this method of analysis, for that matter.
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 12, 2019 at 20:24
  • 4
    Surely this question should be tagged purim-torah-ingest?
    – March Ho
    Mar 12, 2019 at 23:48
  • 1
    @MarchHo judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/q/4527
    – DonielF
    Mar 17, 2019 at 1:18

4 Answers 4


Since it's obviously impossible to just go and search for thousands of quotes taken out of context, you were unaware that our sources support a more nuanced approach to eating. Through superior erudition and laborious work I have assembled a comprehensive list of Jewish sources that permit eating which you can peruse at your leisure. Chief among the sources is Nedarim 7:8, which states unequivocally:

מֻתָּר לֶאֱכֹל

It is permitted to eat.

Now you may ask why, if it is permitted to eat, the other sources all forbid eating. The answer is that this is a classic case of שני כתובים המכחישים זה את זה עד שיבוא הכתוב השלישי ויכריע ביניהם - two sources that contradict each other, which are resolved by a third source which explains them.

Our sources tell us the proper way to eat:

אִכְלוּ רֵעִים

Eat friends. (Song of Songs 5:1)

לֵךְ אֱכֹל בְּשִׂמְחָה לְחָמֶךָ

Go eat your father-in-law happily. (Ecclesiastes 9:7)

וַאֲכַלְתֶּם בְּשַׂר בְּנֵיכֶם וּבְשַׂר בְּנֹתֵיכֶם תֹּאכֵלוּ

Eat the flesh of your sons and eat the flesh of your daughters. (Leviticus 26:29)


Eat my son. (Proverbs 24:13)

Eating friends and family is a healthy, permitted way to relieve your physiological need to eat. But what's more, this is precisely the kind of food we are supposed to eat for the Purim meal. That's why the commandment on Purim is:

וּמִשְׁלוֹחַ מְנוֹת־אִישׁ לְרֵעֵהוּ

Sending portions of a person to one's friend. (Esther 9:22)

  • 6
    This is one of my favorite answers this season. Mar 12, 2019 at 19:33
  • 6
    Thank you! I'm now able to enjoy my lunch! Although my brother may be asking a follow-up question... Mar 13, 2019 at 15:06

This is one of those questions where you are really complicating things.

All these places are giving you a subtle hint to what your mom always told you when you were about to steal that cookie from the cookie jar, taste the batter, eat desert first, etc. C'mon, you remember those famous words that your mom said:


So, you didn't ask why are you not allowed to eat. You asked "Why Can't I eat anything?" You don't have the ability to eat anything whatsoever .. EVER! All because of that one time in life that you ate something before dinner!! You're appetite is permanently ruined!

Moral of the story - listen to your mom. She knows!!


Anyone who searches אסור לאכל on sefaria will find that there are exactly 637 texts in our popular Jewish sources that contain these words. As everyone knows this is also the exact gematria of "ויאמר י-ה-ו-ה אל אברהם למה", which translates as "And the L-rd said to Abraham 'Why?'" (Genesis 18:13) Thus, clearly, the L-rd wanted Abraham to say the answer to your question, "Why can't I eat anything?" Well, if you look at Genesis Chapter 18, it seems that Abraham doesn't reply. This would seem to demonstrate there is no answer. However, 637 is also the gematria of "עפר ואפר", which translates as "dust and ash" (Genesis 18:27). If you look at that verse, we can see cleary that Abraham was replying as it says, "And Abraham replied." Therefore, the prohibition of eating, says Abraham, is only with regards to dust and ash. However, we all know that there is a custom of eating bread, water, and a hard boiled egg with ash on the eve of the ninth of Av. We can solve this problem with Genesis 3:12, which says, "Then the L-rd G-d said to the serpent, “Because you did this, ... and you shall eat dust eat." We can make an inference from this that only the serpent shall eat dust, but everyone else shall not eat dust, as Abraham said. Now, since one of the things that Abraham said that one shall not eat actually only applies to everyone but the serpent, it is only fair that we be allowed to eat ash, whilst the serpent is prohibited from eating ash.

  • I actually like that point about afar vefer...
    – LN6595
    Mar 12, 2019 at 21:28

Actually, Sefaria does indeed provide the solution to the dilemma.

If you search for (why) אסור לאכול on Sefaria, the first result that comes up is the reason why it's forbidden. And there is actually a deep, spiritual meaning behind this based on the Zohar.

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According to the OU, although there is no halachic requirement to wait after eating dairy before eating meat, some wait an hour or half an hour, based on a statement found in the Zohar. (The Zohar’s exact wording can be found in the commentary of the Vilna Gaon on Yoreh Deah 89:1.)

Source: https://oukosher.org/blog/consumer-kosher/the-halachot-of-waiting-between-meals/

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