The sefer Ta'amei HaMinhagim (page 251) writes that the Jewish month of Iyar is a time for refuah (healing). אייר is an acronym for אני ה' רפואך (I am HaShem, your Healer). Additionally, he cites the B'nai Yissaschar, who teaches that most weakness and illness come from foods which are harmful to a person's nature or composition.  The Rambam (Hilchos De'os 4:15) writes likewise.  See also Kitzur Shulchan Aruch chapter 32.

The mahn began to fall in this month (on the 16th day of Iyar 2448). It was the perfect food, from which no sickness, pain or even waste matter resulted (as Dovid HaMelech refers to it in Sefer Tehillim--"lechem abirim"). It even cured those who were ill. Therefore, HaShem left the curative nature of the month in effect for all generations. Accordingly, Iyar is a time of segulah l'refuah.

The mahn was the perfect amount with the ideal nutrients – and its taste was as exquisite as the spiritual level of the consumer. So how can we best replicate that experience with the foods available to us? How can we fine tune our eating behaviors to keep ourselves in the best physical and spiritual condition – and not damage our bodies and souls through improper eating, thus requiring a necessary refuah (G-d forbid).

Our bodies are finely tuned, extremely complex mechanisms. They thrive with proper care, and can be easily damaged through insufficient, or inappropriate handling. This is most clear in regard to our eating – for food is the fuel that sustains us, giving us vitality and energy to maximize our day. A car is not going to go very far, or very fast, without the right amount and right type of gasoline.

Good eating habits have three components – appropriate choices, appropriate quantities and appropriate times of the day. The right choices mean that we select foods based on our bodies’ needs more so than on our immediate cravings. HaShem blessed us with a bountiful selection of healthy choices (proteins, grains, vegetables, fruits) that we can prepare in delicious ways. There’s no excuse for not being able to get a geshmak and gezunt at the same time.

However, a person can overeat even the right foods. The chicken might taste really good, but our body only needs one portion. Appropriate quantities mean not eating too much, or too little. Both overflowing our tank, and under filling it, have serious ramifications.

And lastly, we can have a handle on the right choices and amounts, but push off our eating until late in the morning, or late at night – both of which are not beneficial. Breakfast is exactly that – we are breaking a fast from having not eaten since the night before. Our bodies desperately need nutrition soon after waking in order to have ample energy to start the day. Getting off on the wrong foot often results in trying to catch up by unhealthy snacking throughout the day.

Our bodies need a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner at the proper times – ideally four to six hours apart.  Eating late at night is the last thing a person needs. If we go to sleep on a full stomach, why are we often uncomfortable and not feeling fully rested in the morning? Because we are causing our bodies to do highly conflicting tasks – to spend significant energy to digest a full meal at the same time as trying to gain valuable rest while sleeping. The two don’t work hand in hand. Proper digestion doesn’t occur, and proper rest is not a result.

Iyar is the perfect time to adjust our behaviors with food so we don’t have to end up seeking a refuah as a consequence of our actions – but rather treat our bodies in the way in which HaShem directs us, for prevention is truly the best medicine.

Rabbi Glaser is a certified Nutrition/Wellness Consultant and Weight-Management Specialist. He can be reached at 732.578.8800 ,,