The origins of the Grace After Meals (Talmud B’rachot 21a) come in this week’s portion in a verse that reads v’achalta v’savata uverachta – “You shall eat and be satisfied and bless the Lord” (Deut. 8:10).
The problem is with the word v’savata (satisfied). Does it mean that if you’re not satisfied with your meal you don’t need to bensch?
In a comment on a different verse of the Torah, Rashi points out that there are a number of eating disorders that affect whether you have eaten sufficient – but dealing with those issues are medical judgments and they work objectively.
So is the Torah saying you should ask a doctor or dietician to decide how much food and drink your body needs?
On one level, taking a dietician’s advice is very important for you. But in our context, the Torah is telling us that eating is a psychological as well as a physical activity. If your heart and mind tell you that you have a good feeling about your meal (“I enjoyed that!”), you have to say a prayer of thanks to God, the Source of all nourishment.
But what if you don’t have a good feeling?
The rabbis answer that even without that good feeling you can and should still bensch. They would point to the sentence in the prayers that says sab’enu mituvecha, “Satisfy us with Your goodness”. This implies, “God, make me feel good about whatever you apportion to me.”