Man does not live on bread alone…

…but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Deut. 8:3

The hardest part about fasting is not hunger, but habit. For me, the easiest way to break a fast is by accident. By going on “autopilot” and grabbing a snack after work or a glass of juice in the morning – completely without thinking. Maybe that’s why we spend all day in the synagogue: to stay away from the temptations of our refrigerators.

Seriously though, I wonder if this is one reason we fast. Not just for the purpose of “afflicting the soul” but also to teach us that we do in fact have power over our habits… such power that through force of will (as well as community accountability), we can refrain from eating and drinking, something that we do multiple times a day, every day, for the other 98% of the year.

If I can willfully cease such an ingrained activity, one that is actually necessary for survival… how much more can I choose to put an end to those habits – arrogance, gossip, procrastination, selfishness, impatience, unkindness – that are not necessary… and that sicken rather than nourish?

Be the master of your will and the slave of your conscience.
– Hasidic proverb