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September 13, 2012 / Rabbi Laura

Menus & Shopping Lists – Getting Ready

#BlogElul 26 – Readiness

As a non-congregational rabbi, and the wife of a congregational rabbi, my High Holy Day preparations have less to do with sermon writing, cue sheets and making sure everyone knows their Torah portion.  My preparations have more to do with making sure my family has some quality time together in between the various congregational services Rick leads and we attend. My preparations have to do with food.

In Pirke Avot we are taught “Im ain kemach, ain Torah, without food (literally flour), there is no Torah.” If we think about this teaching in Maslow’s terms, we need our basic needs of sustenance met before we can be open to receiving the wisdom and guidance of Torah.  I like to think of myself as the one providing the kemach, the sustenance, for our family during this season, while Rick is the one providing our community the guidance of Torah and Judaism.

So a big part of my getting ready for the High Holy Days is preparing my menus and shopping list.  I gather some of my favorite Jewish cookbooks around me, sometimes spending hours perusing them.  I look back at past menus to see what I made last year or the year before.  Of course I always have some favorites that I make every year.  And each year includes at least one new recipe.

My time spent in the kitchen preparing our holiday meals is very much a spiritual practice for me. I sometimes put on Jewish music, or put on a movie with an appropriate theme.  I get in my groove. The tastes and aromas are powerful triggers for me. I reflect on the year that has passed. I contemplate the year ahead. I have imaginary conversations with family members who are no longer with me yet continue to guide, inspire and strengthen me.  Sometimes I even shed a few tears. I enjoy the time alone.

When the time comes for us to sit down together to eat, I am usually exhausted. But it is that good kind of exhaustion.

I am usually the last one to sit.

I take a long, slow, deep breath.

I look around the table at my dear family.

As we sing the blessings, pass around the dishes of food, and dig in, I am happy.

I  am blessed.

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