Maimonides, a great 12th century Kabbalist, philosopher, physician, and astronomer, dedicated quite a few medical articles to meals and the need for nourishment. In particular, he wrote, “The food must be chewed thoroughly to receive pleasure,” otherwise the food will be harmful, “and thank the Creator for this.”
In the spiritual world, food is the Upper Light that we need to receive in order to bestow, meaning for pleasure and not because we want to satisfy hunger, and we have no other choice.
It is said (even among those who were not Kabbalists) that in order to chew food, it is necessary to chew 72 (Ayin-Bet) times with the teeth. From the spiritual point of view, the teeth chew Ohr Hochma, dividing the desire into a multitude of fragments, so that it will be possible to mix them with Ohr Hassadim. And in the physical world this is expressed in the mixing of food with saliva when one chews.
It is necessary to eat quietly among friends or family (it is desirable not to eat alone), so that at every moment we feel thanks.
That is how it was with my teacher Rabash; the meal went on in total silence; nobody said a word. We were even very careful with our movements so as not to disturb others remaining within their inner thoughts.
In general, with our current education, we are used to talking during a meal. People gather in a coffee house or in a restaurant for conversation between them, to connect and so forth. And here everything is completely different; everything is done in silence, working within yourself but in relation to others. So Rambam writes that it is “necessary to eat in quiet among friends or family, and to feel thanks at every moment.”
I hope that eventually we will get to have meals like this.
From the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/17/14, Questions and Answers with Dr. Laitman