This past Tuesday, the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, was no different and I went about my day as I normally would. However, once I came home from work I started to really feel it. My arms and legs felt heavy and it was a little hard to concentrate. Once we put the kids to sleep, I decided that I really needed to take a nap on the couch. Ettie woke me up just a few minutes before the fast ended so I could daven Maariv and be ready for the "break-fast meal."
I have a custom to always break the fast with a hot cup of coffee and some sort of pasty. It doesn't really matter what type, as long as it's delicious! I was pleasantly surprised to be woken up to the smell of coffee and a cinnamon bun. Ettie, who encourages our family to snack on fruit and veggies, also had a platter of cantaloupe, red and green grapes, and watermelon. Once we finished our coffee, pastry, and fruit, Ettie had a colourful salad waiting and was making hot off the stove grilled cheese sandwiches for the late night breakfast... I mean dinner... I mean... you know what I mean.
I am a bit of a grilled cheese connoisseur and being that I am usually the one who makes it, as she was getting all the ingredients ready, Ettie asked if there was anything she needed to know (in addition to our family tradition of including a couple slices of tomato for an extra splash of flavour). Were there any secret ingredients or special steps she needed to take to ensure the grilled cheese was not only cheesy on the inside but crispy on the outside?
I share with her that the most essential step in making a mouth watering grilled cheese was to butter both the inside of the bread and the outside. Why was this so important? Well, if you only butter the inside of the bread, the outside becomes hard and overdone. If you only butter the outside, the inside won't be soft enough and you risk the bread not properly adhering to the cheese. Only by evenly spreading the butter on both sides can you guarantee a true grilled cheese experience.
But what could this mean on a larger scale? How can the process of buttering bread be applied to my life?
Engaging in Torah and Mitzvahs in our endeavour to make the world a better place and bring Moshiach can be a tall order to fulfill. It means trying our best to be conscious of how we act not sometimes (in certain settings at certain times of the day around certain people), but rather all the time. It means doing the right thing not only when you are out in public, but when you are at home all alone as well. Don't talk about how important it is to treat each person with respect and dignity when you are at home, and then snub someone at the office because they arrived late for a meeting. Don't pray with immense concentration and vigor only when at shul services, but at home as well. In essence, we all need to make sure that we infusing the principles of Torah from the inside out and the outside in.
In this week's Torah portion, Parshas Pinchas, we see a glimpse of how great of a leader Moshe Rabbainu really was. When he found out that he would not be entering the land of Eretz Yisrael he could have thrown in the towel, wiped his hands, and moved on, letting someone else worry about the Jewish people and the rest of the journey. But no. Not only did he handle the disappointment with extreme grace and fortitude, he even helped select the next leader of the people. This is the true mark of someone who had buttered his bread on both sides. He was able to see the bigger picture because he lived a life of Torah through and through; not just on one side, but both.
So more important than the type of bread you use, or the kind of cheese you select, or even whether you decide to add a slice of tomato, is buttering one's bread on both sides.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,
Rabbi Nuta Yisrael Shurack