Tuesday, 1 November 2011

JVO: Waste at Simchas

Jewish Values Online (jewishvaluesonline.org) is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the denominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster Rabbi Wolpoe and Nishma's Founding Director, Rabbi Hecht, both serve as Orthodox members of their Panel of Scholars.

This post continues the weekly series on the Nishmablog that features responses on JVO by one of our two Nishma Scholars who are on this panel. This week's presentation is to one of the questions to which Rabbi Wolpoe responded.

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Question: I often see guests at simchas (celebrations) waste so much food, putting mounds on their plate. We seem to take more than we need. Should we be promoting a more responsible balance between hospitality and waste?

Having worked for several caterers and restaurants I can personally testify to the large amount of excess food "wasted" at many celebrations

This is not a "Jewish" Problem. Rather it's a North American problem. We are a careless society due to our great bounty of food.

It also makes no sense to be so neurotic so as to expect that we can waste no food at all. Such expectations are unrealistic. Yet, without a doubt there are many ways to reduce excessive waste

1. Smaller portions, because uneaten portions will waste less. Then allow the more voracious eaters to get "seconds"

2. Provide leftovers to "soup kitchens". E.g., In Teaneck, NJ a society called "Sheirit haPLATE" takes extra food to the needy.

3. Invite needy people to the simcha. If seating them in the main hall is logistically difficult, then seat them elsewhere and make the leftovers available to them.

4. Have less lavish parties - at least with regard to the food served.

Note: while buffets and smorgasbords might seem to waste less, in reality they waste about the same amount.

The concept of waste is subsumed in he mitzvah of "bal Tashchit"

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