Spirituality of matzah balls

March 6, 2015

Torah Thought

Every week my family and I are blessed to have anywhere between five and 20 guests for Shabbos. These guests come from various backgrounds and levels of observance and everyone knows that they are always welcome to come and enjoy a Shabbos meal. Recently, we had a gentleman who had never had a matzah ball. That’s right, we had a hard time believing it as well, but it was true. He had never had a matzah ball and my wife’s matzah ball soup was his first. He definitely enjoyed it and commented that he may have to come back soon if, for no other reason, than to make sure that the soup is always this good.

I have found over the years that people will sometimes start off their personal, spiritual journey in a very unknowing manner. They will not recognize, or allow themselves to recognize that their journey is a spiritual one, but rather they will come because, “The chicken soup is so good….” Sometimes people will sign up for a class because it is intellectually interesting, not expecting to have the class change them in any way. Many people will attend a Passover seder simply because that’s what they do. They have to go to a seder, but they have no intention of the seder making an impact on them.

This is the choice that each and every one of us has with every Jewish event, class, program, meal and service we attend. Do we want to “do” something or do we want to “become” something? Am I the type of person who will participate, but never thinks that the topic applies to me or am I the type of person who wants to always try and reach my potential? As we approach Passover this is a very important question that we should all be asking ourselves. Over the next few weeks we have a chance to break out of our personal prison that we each make for ourselves and burst out into a world of true, personal freedom.

As I am writing this we are a few days before Purim. In just a few days we are going to remember a time in our history when we were almost destroyed, but because we took action, we prayed, we fasted and we repented and the Jewish people were saved. But then, in a few more weeks we will come to Passover. At this time in history, G-d took us out from Egypt not because we fasted or prayed or repented but because G-d decided that it was the right time and He, Himself took us out of Egypt.

There are times when we need personal effort and action. There are other times when G-d just runs the world and all we can do is follow His lead. Whichever we are experiencing at any given time there is one thing that is consistent—it all has the potential to bringing us closer to G-d. The matzah ball can bring us closer to G-d, as well as the chicken and brisket and even the bitter herbs. It’s up to us whether we come to dinner to eat or we eat in order to serve a Higher Purpose.

When we have a chance to attend a service, a meal, a program or a class we have a choice. Attend because we feel as though we have to or try to figure out how this matzah ball can bring us a little closer to G-d. If you want to know more about the spirituality of matzah balls (or anything else) feel free to be in touch.

—Rabbi Gershon Litt, executive director of the Norfolk Kollel, director of Hillel at the College of William and Mary and Rabbi of Adath Jeshurun Synagogue in Newport News.

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