The obesity epidemic is considered one of the greatest health crises in the western world, and brings in its wake dangers such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, which claim countless victims each year. Recently, obesity rates have been rising among children as well, and there is an alarming trend to see diseases in children that were once found only in the middle-aged or older. Type 2 diabetes, in particular, is striking hard in obese children, especially those from lower socioeconomic groups.
Parents, teachers and medical professionals thus far have found themselves helpless to stem the tide of obesity. It is not only that there are currently no medications to treat or prevent obesity. We live in a society with unprecedented access to ready-made, high calorie food, and the body’s regulatory mechanisms that normally control appetite don’t seem to know how to handle this abundance. The result is overeating, with the body converting the excess food into fat.
Many people who struggle with their weight describe a condition wherein they feel fullness on the one hand, but a stubborn hunger on the other hand. Even after consuming vast quantities of food, somehow they are not satisfied.
In one of his talks, the Lubavitcher Rebbe elaborates on one of the phenomena that we will see towards the end of exile. An intense desire for spirituality, truth and justice will break out of the bounds of intellect and become an actual physical craving. The physical eye will long to see G-dliness, and the nose to sniff it, to sniff the air of freedom, of Moshiach.
The hunger of the soul for the feast of Redemption (described as the “feast of the Leviathan and the shor habar”) is explained by the Rebbe as a physical hunger that cannot be satiated by anything else. Regardless of how much food we consume, we are still hungry for that promised meal, and so our hunger is never sated. We know the truth, the goodness that was promised to us, and we cannot be satisfied with any substitute. This hunger is the real psychological explanation for all our generation’s complicated appetites and addictions. They are all an attempt to satisfy the soul’s craving for Redemption.
According to our sages, the feast of Redemption will be a spiritual one, not a physical one, since in the time of Redemption our bodies will no longer need physical nourishment. The divine light that sustains the body will no longer be enclothed in the proteins, carbohydrates and fats that currently nourish the body, but will give life directly, without an organic medium. Then we will see the revelation of the verse, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by the word of G-d.” Then, naturally we will all maintain a healthy weight and a healthy body, and we will merit eternal life.