Rabbi Forbids Dieting Over Festive Period

Jewish weight-watchers beware...!

Ari Soffer ,

Uh... maybe don't eat that though
Uh... maybe don't eat that though
Flash 90

With the Hebrew month of Tishrei fast approaching - and with it the gastronomic festive period of Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot - many people will already be worrying about how to avoid piling on the pounds.

But if you're thinking about skipping dessert, one rabbi says you should think again.

According to Rabbi Efraim Zalmanovich of the central Israeli city of Mazkeret Batya, near Rehovot, Jews must not diet on Shabbat or the festivals. In fact, you really should just let it all go.

In a Torah essay regarding the festivals of Tishrei, Rabbi Zalmanovich called on readers to "treat yourselves on the upcoming holidays with good food."

"Our Heavenly Father has guaranteed to cover all the expenses, and in general, diets that are not undertaken on the doctor's orders are not desirable on the festivals or Shabbat," he continued.

"These dates are designed to affect a spiritual transcendence through physical relaxation and satiety... It is a Mitzvah (Torah command) to spoil ourselves with tasty foods and festive fragrances."

And forget about budgeting too.

"I believe that the festival expenses will be covered by Heaven (God)," he continued, citing a Talmudic passage which says that when God decrees how much money a person will earn in the new year, He adds a "special budget" for the festivals.

On the other hand, he warned that "it is forbidden for traders to take advantage of our weakness for the sake of the honor of Shabbat or the festival" to inflate prices - a phenomenon many shoppers will be well acquainted with - and noted that in the past rabbis had led boycotts of overpriced traders and even entire ranges of produce in order to bring down extortionate prices.

Proof, perhaps, that not all rabbis make good lifestyle coaches...