The next morning, I was having breakfast with Bayla discussing our plans for the day and I mentioned that we would go for a bike ride when I got home from work. “Woohoo,” she cheered, “bike riding is my favourite!” That’s great, I thought and left for work, content that when I got home I would be able to partake of Bayla’s favourite activity that afternoon. After bike riding we sat down to dinner and Ettie asked, “who’s ready for grilled cheese sandwiches?” “I am,” said Bayla, “grilled cheese is my favourite.” Hmmm I thought to myself; I thought hot dogs were her favourite. Maybe hot dogs are her favourite meat meal and grilled cheese is her favourite dairy meal. That makes sense. Not wanting to get too analytical and/or make more out of it than what it was I let it go and continued on with the night’s events.
Last Sunday we had another fun filled day with a parsha craft in the morning, a bike ride mid-day with a stop off at the park, and some baking. Right before we were about to start baking Bayla told me that baking was her favourite. That’s funny I thought to myself, I thought bike riding was her favourite. Maybe bike riding is her favourite outside activity and baking is her favourite inside activity I figured; happy that I was able to make sense of my 4 year olds complicated mind. We baked banana chocolate chip bread and it was delicious!
On Monday morning we sat down to have breakfast and since we had finished the box of corn flakes I told Bayla that we would open a box of Cheerios. “Yay,” Bayla cried, “Cheerios are my favourite!” Okay hold it right there I thought. How could Cheerios be her favourite? Unless….Cheerios are her favourite cereal. I guess that could make sense. We enjoyed a nice breakfast and I went to work.
I thought I had it all figured out; hot dogs are her favourite meat meal, Cheerios are her favourite cereal, grilled cheese is her favourite dairy meal, baking is her favourite inside activity, and bike riding her favourite outside activity. But then over the last three days I have learned that: colouring is her favourite, sardines are her favourite (she eats them by the can), playing tag is her favourite, applesauce is her favourite, chicken is her favourite, pancakes are her favourite, rice with cheese is her favourite, playing with playdo is her favourite and just about every other thing she has done or eaten has been classified with an exuberant “Yay, that’s my favourite” with a huge smile reaching from ear to ear.
I began to really think about it. How can one person have so many favourites? After all, favourite means special, in fact the most special, and therefore must be limited to one. Maybe a person can have two favourites if they can’t decide and are at a stalemate but more than that cheapens the concept, right? If anything, one can have a first choice, second choice, and so on, but only one favourite… I think.
Perhaps what Bayla was trying to teach me was that every food, every activity, and most certainly every mitzvah has its own unique elements, qualities, and distinct perspective. If we recognize how special each item is then when we have the opportunity to utilize that specific one, well of course then in that moment it will be our favourite. When you have the opportunity to give tzedaka? Well then in that moment while you are sharing your hard earned money with another; make it your favourite. When you say a blessing before eating; make it your favourite blessing. Even when you do something over and over again, you have the ability to make it your favourite each and every time.
In this week’s Torah potion, Parshas Naso, the Torah describes the offerings of the twelve tribes and does so in incredible detail even though the offerings were exactly the same. It begs the question why? We know the Torah is very precise in its use of language so it could have explained what the first tribe brought and then written, “and every other tribe brought the same!” From this we learn that Hashem took immense pleasure in every single offering despite the fact that they were the same; because each time it was special, unique, and invaluable. In other words, each was Hashem’s favourite.
Take a moment before you eat, drink, learn Torah, or do a mitzvah. Smile, not just any smile, but an ear to ear smile, look at the person closest to you and tell them, “Yay, this is my favourite!” You will be amazed at how good it makes you feel.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos (Yay, I love Shabbos, it’s my favourite!),
Rabbi Nuta Yisrael Shurack