Tuesday, July 30, 2013

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Torah Lesson: I Love IKEA!

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

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I went to my teenage son who was lounging around in bed, read to give him some mussar (reprimanding him) for not heading to synagogue on time Shabbos morning.  But what could I say that would actually catch his attention?  (As opposed to shrugging off negative parental attention.)

So I came up to him very upset and said, “Son, (huff huff huff – very stern face), I … love … my … Ikea … bookcase!”

I then took a deep breath and stared at him for about 30 seconds.

He looked back, kind of shook his head not able to match my expression to my words, and replied “huh?”

I explained:

Sometime around 1917, the boxed cake mix was created.  The original cakes included all ingredients, including salt and dried egg.  It was literally add water and bake.  For about 20 years they barely sold.  Then the companies figured out that by removing the egg (and salt), requiring the baker to add them – the cake became “their cake” (instead of saying it was a boxed cake, they said “I baked it (from a mix)”.  The effort of adding the egg (and pinch of salt) made it theirs (the work of their hands).

Ikea is a very popular reasonably priced reasonable quality assemble-your-furniture from a kit company.  Their products are not high quality, and not particularly stylish.  But everyone who buys their products loves them…  because they assemble them themselves. They “build” it, it becomes theirs (the work of their hands).

This is an important lesson for Jewish life.  IF YOU ARE FEELING A MITZVAH IS A BURDEN, invest in it, participate in it and make it yours.  Straighten the chairs in synagogue or put the siddurim away.  Help raise money for the synagogue.  BUY and donate a few prayer books.  Put in effort and MAKE THE SYNAGOGUE YOURS. 

Choosing NOT to be bystander actually changes how we FEEL about Judaism.  Grab a mitzvah and MAKE IT YOURS.  Invest in your community, in your synagogue, in a charity – making a difference won’t only help others and make things better for everybody – it will change YOU.

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