Sunday, February 03, 2008
There was once a rabbi teaching his last class. "For this special occasion I am going to do something different. I am going to teach you the secret of a good cholent."
The students were aghast. Cholent, the traditional Shabbos stew, is a classic of Jewish cooking, but hardly a Talmudic subject. The rabbi took out a crockpot and filled it to the brim with potatoes. "Tell me, is the pot full?"
"Yes," his students replied. The rabbi took out a bag of beans and poured it into the pot. "Now is the pot full?" Without missing a beat the rabbi took out a bag of barley and poured it into the pot. "Now it's full," said the students.
"Really?" said the rabbi. He then began shaking salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder all over the pot. "Is it full yet?" Without waiting for the answer, the rabbi produced a jug of water and proceeded to pour its contents into the pot. "Now it really is full, right?" The students all nodded. "Are you sure?" With drama and pathos, the rabbi raised a finger in the air, lowered it slowly and flicked a switch on the side of the pot, turning on the heating element lying beneath. "You see," said the rabbi triumphantly, "I just filled the pot with the most important ingredient of all - heat. Without it, the pot may as well be empty."
"You are about to leave my class and go on to live busy lives. In the world out there you will no longer have the luxury of studying holy texts all day. In time you will be consumed by the pressures of looking after a family and making a living. But always remember this: money is just the potatoes and beans of life. Your spirituality, that is the fire. Without fire, the pot is undigestible. It is the fire that makes a good Jewish cholent."