Our Rabbi and Eating - Part 2

Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook

Our Rabbi's strength
During the weekdays our Rabbi would eat minimal amounts: An olive-size piece of bread or a baked good and a cup of tea. It was difficult to understand from where the strength flowed for all of the classes which he gave and for all of the lengthy discussions with students and other people who would arrive early at his door.

Despite the minimal amounts he ate, our Rabbi possessed exceptional physical strengthen.
On Simchat Torah, he would carry a heavy Sefer Torah for hours.

Even our Rabbi's pat on the back was sometimes very strong. He once related that Rabbi Chaim of Tzanz – the Divrei Chaim - would deliver his blessings to his chasidim with a pat on the back, and the stronger the pat, the greater the blessing would come into existence. A few days later, he blessed a student along with a light pat on the back. The student gently reminded him about his words about Rabbi Chaim of Tzanz. Our Rabbi listened, and gave him a powerful pat that made him fly two meters.

When our Rabbi returned to his house from Hadassah Hospital in the year 5733, he emphasized that he was returning to all of his stringencies and pious customs.

Eating on Shabbat
A student related: On Shabbat, it was impossible to see the table. Rabbi Yosef Bedichi ensured that the Shabbat meal would be like "Shlomo’s feast." I was stunned every time how Ha-Rav, without any effort, would finish every dish which Rabbi Yosef Bedichi prepared, while I needed great exertion to do so. Many times he would mention during the meal the words of the Midrash Tanchuma (Bereshit, 3) that one who delights on Shabbat is equivalent to one who fasts one hundred times (see Ha-Torah Ha-Go’elet of Rav Chaim Avihu Schwartz vol. 4, p. 211 #30). It appeared as if he was a different person on Shabbat, as if the nature of the body changed within him on account of the extra soul of Shabbat. And this man, who virtually fasted all week, would delight on Shabbat.

Once at a Shabbat evening meal, a guest ate at our Rabbi's table, and after eating the fish he was no longer hungry. When Rabbi Yosef Bedichi brought the soup, he did not eat it and pushed it a little to the side. Our Rabbi noticed this and asked the guest what happened, and he responded that he was not hungry. He said to him in surprise: "Do we eat on Shabbat because we are hungry? We eat on Shabbat in order to delight on Shabbat." He mentioned various times the words of the Gemara in Sanhedrin (101a), "All the days of a poor person are bad," including Shabbat and holidays. The Gemara explains that even though on Shabbat a poor person eats good meals he is nevertheless mired in bad, as Shmuel said, "Changing habit is the beginning of intestinal illness" (which Rashi explains: "’Changing habit’ - changing habit and eating more than one usually eats is the beginning of intestinal illness, therefore even on Shabbat and holidays is bad for him").

At Seudat Shelishit (the third meal of Shabbat), our Rabbi saw that one student was not eating and inquired as to the reason. The student answered: "I do not like this food." Our Rabbi said to him: "One needs to like all food."

On weekdays he would limit talking at meal time, and would finish quickly in order to be free from it. On Shabbat, however, he would lengthen it with Divrei Torah, stories of great Rabbis of Israel and delight in hearing zemirot (Shabbat songs).