I recently returned from a spectacular Shabbat in St. Louis. I reconnected with old friends, made some new ones, spoke many times, and gave a number of “Spirituals.” My hosts went out of their way for me in every way but one. They made sure I was comfortable, and that I had plenty of gluten-free food. A friend of theirs brought over some of the most awesome meringues I have ever eaten. Now, you will agree, I’m sure, that it’s only fair that the gluten-free treats should be reserved for the person who can only eat gluten-free; after all, everyone else can eat almost anything. Sadly, my hosts, as attentive as they were to everything else, allowed their daughter to openly steal some of my meringues! I suspect that you are as shocked as I! |
I decided to keep my eye on the thief; one can never be too careful around meringue thieves! Can you believe that the thief began asking questions about Halacha? I wanted to lecture her on, “Do not steal,” but was uncomfortable pointing out her terrible sin in front of her parents. Is it possible for a meringue thief to truly care about Halacha?
She certainly is sincere. She is meticulous in everything she does. She has a great mind and a huge soul. She is passionate about God. It seemed that the only chink in her armor was her meringue stealing. I generously decided to give her the benefit of the doubt: There is an Halachic concept that could lead her to believe that she was doing a Mitzvah.
A host must go out of his way to make his guest comfortable eating as much as he wishes without feeling that he is eating too much. The host should provide a sense of plenty so the guest will not hesitate to eat. The meringue thief wanted me to feel that there were enough meringues for everyone so I could eat as many as I desired.
God did this in Eden when He presented “Every tree pleasurable to see and good to eat,” insisting that Adam sample all, before restricting him from the single Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
God did this at Sinai when He said, “You shall be to Me a kingdom of ministers and a holy nation,” before He made any specific demands. First, the sense of unlimited possibility.
The Ten Statements begin with, “I am God, your Lord, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery,” a celebration of freedom and potential before, “You shall not recognize the powers of others in My presence.”
My meringue thief is the magnificent person she is because she was raised with that sense of possibility, potential and plenty. She was only trying to share it with me. I just wish she stole something else, a vegetable perhaps…
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