The Sephardic Community of Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Rambam’s Principles

Rambam cautions us against drinking water within the meal except a little mixed with wine.  All Asian medical systems advise against drinking during meals. While they do drink tea prior to a meal, the size of a Chinese teacup is miniscule. Drinking water during a meal dilutes digestive and juices necessary for proper digestion. It causes bloating and interferes with the digestion of the solid foods, making us feel uncomfortable and tired. The digestive enzymes will have less access to the food when it is floating in liquid. According to Oriental medicine, drinking water with the meal weakens the digestive fire and makes it difficult for it to remain hot enough to function efficiently. This would counteract the importance of warming up the body through exercise prior to eating, which Rambam stresses. Wine has a warming nature and thus if mixed with water can aid digestion and mitigate the negative effects of the water.

Excerpted from Safeguarding Health by Rebbetzen Chana Bracha Siegelbaum from

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