Dear Miss Manners: Yesterday, a friend knocked on my door. I invited him in and he proceeded to grab a snack out of the fridge, watch a movie on my TV and then hopped on to my exercise bike. I wasn’t asked even once if any of this was ok! In truth, I had no problem with him using my home, but I was astounded by the lack of manners, by the fact that I was never asked if it was ok!

It is obvious that even friends should ask their host’s permission before partaking of a host’s generosity. After all, most humans are rather possessive over their “things.” But do we always ask permission?

That beautiful apple that you ate this morning? Did you truly own it? Sure, you paid for it. But was it you who sent the rain to water it and the sun to warm the soil? Think of the planet as God’s home. After all, He is the Creator. Everything is really His, and it is our responsibility to ask His permission and give Him our thanks, just as we would ask permission of a human host.

Our sages therefore taught that one must always say a blessing before eating. Blessings, in effect, are our way of “acquiring” the food from God and acknowledging His role as Creator.

The formula for the blessings are based on the different ways food grows. There are 6 blessing categories: Breads-Ha’mo’tzee, Wine/Grape Juice-Ha’gafen, Grains-M’zo’note, Fruit-Ha’etz, Vegetables-Ha’ah’dama and everything else-Sheh’ha’kohl.

This Treat was last posted on December 10, 2008.

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