Monday, September 10, 2007

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Milk and Honey

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

A few weeks ago a neighbor from the Old City stopped me on the street. He had just started a tiny homemade sheep cheese business in his apartment and was looking for customers. The guy obviously didn’t have any money, so I wanted to give him some business if I could. I told him that I make lasagna on Friday nights and that I couldn’t find any kosher Parmesan cheese for it. If he could make one, I could use some every week. A couple of days ago he told me that he had something for me to try and he was going to stop by the apartment in the morning. He didn’t show up.

I went to the Kotel late that afternoon as usual, and the nice guy who manages the tefillin booth said that he had something for me. He pulled out a gorgeous bottle of natural honey. It was gift-wrapped in a tiny decorated straw basket. It is a custom to dip our bread in honey during the upcoming holidays, and this was his way of saying thank you for all of the help that I give him at the tefillin booth. It was really nice of him.

After I finished helping at the booth and was about to go daven, the guy with the cheese business came up to me. He had a bag with several slices of smelly cheese in it. He wanted me to taste it there at the Kotel and maybe buy a piece.

“This is weird,” I said to myself. When was the last time I ate a piece of cheese at the Kotel? I didn’t want to do it, but I saw how disappointed he was, so I took a small piece and walked out of the davening area to taste it. Hey, it was pretty good. I bought enough for two lasagnas, but he didn’t have a bag to put it in. It was wrapped in a small piece of clear, thin plastic wrap. “Oh, boy, here I am again in a weird situation.” I was sitting by the Kotel about to daven, holding a nice-sized piece of smelly sheep cheese in one hand and a bottle of honey in the other.

Then it hit me. I smiled warmly at God’s kindness (and good humor). I had written this week about how God has given us a Land of Milk and Honey, and there I was, sitting by the Kotel with cheese in one hand and honey in the other. Okay, so according to the sages, the actual honey He was talking about was date-honey and not bee honey, and Parmesan sheep cheese is a bit of a stretch from milk, but so what. I got the message.

It is so nice to be here. Thank You.

By the way, there is room for you here, too.

From the Old City of Jerusalem, Have a wonderful, sweet, healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

- Reb Gutman Locks

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