Have you ever had the experience of really wanting to consume a certain food or drink, but afterwards coming to realise that no matter how attractive that food or drink may have seemed to you, it wasn’t good for your digestion?
We find a story along these lines in today’s daf (Pesachim 107a) where we are told that Rebbi received a gift of high-quality date beer from Levi. Upon first tasting the beer, Rebbi found it to be very flavoursome and he therefore decided to use it for kiddush and ‘to say over it all the songs and praises in the world’. However, that night, Rebbi suffered from stomach pains and diarrhea, during which time he remarked to himself: מיסרן ומפייס – “[can] this [beer] which has caused me such affliction be suitable to appease [God by reciting kiddush over it?]”. What we see from here is that drink which will cause significant discomfort to a person should not be used for kiddush.
This principle clearly has many applications – especially to those with food sensitivities, intolerances and allergies. For example, I am sensitive to wine, and thus I recite kiddush on grape juice and have a mix of wine and grape juice on Seder night. Beyond this, I have also developed a mild sensitivity to gluten – although there are others for whom eating matzah can cause them significant discomfort.
Clearly, every person must learn to understand how their body reacts to different foods and drinks. However, the overall principle of מיסרן ומפייס comes to teach us that there is an inherent contradiction in using products which cause us significant discomfort or distress for the sake of serving God.