We read in Isaiah 38:1-5:
“In those days, Hezekiah became deathly ill. Isaiah ben Amotz the prophet came to him and said to him, ‘Thus said the Almighty, ‘Command your household, for you shall die and you shall not live.” Hezekiah turned his face to the wall (‘el ha-kir’) and prayed to the Almighty. He said, ‘Please, Almighty, remember, please, that I walked before You truthfully and wholeheartedly, and I did that which was good in Your eyes!’ Hezekiah cried a great cry. The word of the Almighty came to Isaiah saying, ‘Go and say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus said the Almighty, the G-d of David your father, ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. I hereby add to your days fifteen years.”'”
The Talmud (Berachoth 10B) discusses the relevance of Scripture relating that Hezekiah turned “to the wall” in prayer. Would it not have been sufficient to relate simply the nature of his prayer and not his orientation? The Talmud offers a number of explanations, including that the meaning is that he prayed “from the walls (i.e. depths) of his heart.” Rabbi Yoseph Chayim of Baghdad (1832-1909), in his classic commentary Ben Yehoyada, adds an additional explanation:
“The word ‘kir,’ meaning ‘wall,’ is comprised of the same Hebrew letters as the word ‘yerek,’ meaning, ‘vegetables.’ King Hezekiah (may he rest in peace) ate vegetables every day instead of meat. He therefore turned himself to the wall and prayed for himself so that the Holy One Blessed is He would remember this pious act of eating vegetables (‘yerek’), which has the same letters as ‘kir’ (‘wall’) and He would answer his prayer.”
So not only did Chizkiyahu’s “piety” of vegetarianism save him from deathly illness, it added fifteen years to his life! This is one point I have not yet seen the in the literature of the vegetarian lobby.