Our Rabbi and Eating - Part 3

Rabbenu Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook
Seudat Mitzvah
A student related: Our Rabbi was invited to a Seudat Mitzvah with my family. He responded affirmatively and came to participate in it. After they finished serving the main course, the hostess stood up and asked: "Would anyone like more?" No one responded, but our Rabbi spoke up and said: "Please, I would like more." After the hostess joyously served Ha-Rav, and they gave Divrei Torah, the hostess again asked if anyone would like more. Again, no one responded to her proposal, and again our Rabbi spoke up and said: "If it is possible, please, I am interested..." We were somewhat confused, we could not understand how Ha-Rav could eat this amount. Ha-Gaon Rabbi Shalom Natan Ra’anan (Ha-Rav's brother-in-law) stood up, came over to me and whispered to me: "Please tell the hostess not to propose an additional portion, since if she asks ten times, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah will not refuse. For a Seudat Mitzvah, he will never refuse..." (From the book "Berito Le-hodi’am" of Rav Yitzchak Dadon, p. 115)

At a Seudat Mitzvah, such as a Brit Milah, our Rabbi would eat with as quickly as he could, because then there is a mitzvah to eat.

It once happened that students found his sister, Ha-Rabbanit Bayta Miriam, crying: "Yesterday Reb Tzvi Yehudah participated in three Seudot Mitzvah in which he ate meat, now he will fast for a week!"
A student asked after a Seudat Mitzvah: "From where do you get the strength to eat so much?" Our Rabbi replied: "We receive the strength from the mitzvah."

Meal-time etiquette
The meal time was a great class for his students. Our Rabbi did not bend over the soup as most people do. He would bring the spoon up to himself while sitting in an upright position, since a person does not need to bend to the food, but conversely, to raise the food up to him.

Our Rabbi was very particular not to begin eating as along as all of those present had not received their food.
When our Rabbi sat down to eat, and another person sat with him, he was also concerned that he would eat.

When a married couple ate at his table, he would give the man "a double portion" and point out with a smile: "You are obligated to provide her food!" And sometimes we even acted this way with an engaged couple, and he would say to the young man: "You will soon be obligated to provide her food..."

Our Rabbi was once drinking tea and a student asked him a question and he only answered him after finishing the tea. When the student asked our Rabbi about it, he explained that the whole thing about drinking tea is drinking it when it is hot. If it cools off, it is "Ba'al Tashchit" (wanton waste), and it was therefore preferable to finish drinking first. (Ha-Rav Reuven Hiller)

Our Rabbi and his striingencies regarding eating
The "Divrei Avraham" - Ha-Rav Ha-Gaon Rabbi Avraham Dov Ber Shapira of Kovno - participated in a gathering of "Agudat Yisrael," and since our Rabbi had a great desire to meet him, he came to the hotel where he was staying. They had a lengthy conversation, but when it came time for lunch, our Rabbi moved to the side to eat bread and honey. This is how he acted during his travels in order to avoid kashrut problems [since any additional ingredients in honey ruin its taste and are noticeable]. The "Divrei Avraham" invited him a few times to join the others, but he declined, and then the "Divrei Avraham" understood: "His honor simply has special stringencies regarding eating." Our Rabbi then resolved: "My thought was not to act this way in the presence of a great man" (See Ketubot 63a where Ben Kalba Shavua vowed that his daughter would not benefit from his property after she became engaged to the unlearned Rabbi Akiva. He later wanted to annul his vow and heard that a rabbi had come to town. The Rabbi asked him, "Did you intend to make your vow even in the case that he would be a great man?" Ben Kalba Shavua said, "No, even if he had learned a little I would not have vowed." Rabbi Akiva then revealed to him that he was his son-in-law). Our Rabbi then established three general rules for himself: 1. All of his special practices regarding eating would be nullified in the presence of a great man who asked him to eat. 2. And similarly, when he was a guest of other people. 3. And even when people were his guests.