Parsha Mitzvot: Ki Tavo: Mitzvah 609 – Concept 264
“When you have finished tithing every tithe of your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give to the Levite, to the proselyte, to the orphan, and to the widow, and they shall eat in your cities and be satisfied. Then you shall say before God, your Lord, ‘I have removed the holy things from the house, and I have also given it to the Levite, to the proselyte, to the orphan, and to the widow, according to whatever commandment You commanded me; I have not transgressed any of Your commandments, and I have not forgotten. I have not eaten of it in my intense mourning, I did not consume it in a state of contamination, and I did not give of it for the needs of the dead; I have hearkened to the voice of God, my Lord,; I have acted according to everything You commanded me. Gaze down from Your holy abode, from the heavens, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground that You gave us, as You swore to our forefathers, a Land flowing with milk and honey.’” (Deuteronomy 26:12-15) A mourner on the first day after death must not eat Ma’aser Sheini. (Rambam, Hilchot Ma’aser Sheini v’Neta Rivaii – The Laws of The Second Tithe and Fourth Year Produce)
“Lo achalti b’oni,” translated as “I have not eaten in my intense mourning,” can also be read as “Oni,” my strength, as in, “Reishit Oni.’ “It did not occur to me that I ate as a result of my strength and effort, but only as a result of God’s kindness.” (Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov of Biala – Divrei Binah)
The Holy Bialer certainly does not intend to ignore the Mitzvah of this verse. He is reminding us that whenever we eat with the belief that what we have is only a result of our effort, we are tasting death. No matter how strong we may are, our strength is limited. However, when we eat with awareness of God’s blessing, we eat from that which is infinite, and we can experience infinite life and joy.