Spreading blankets and other relationship builders

sruli bow and arrowMy bed is made, my blanket is roughly spread across the mattress with no regard for any obstacles in her way.  Whatever was there when she landed is covered by the blue, white and yellow stripes that my grandmother knitted for me over 30 years ago.  My grandmother called it an afghan.

I’m not a slob.  It’s just that I was sitting on the couch with my kids and we needed a blanket.  As the night wore on and I felt the need to straighten up I asked my 5 (almost 6) year old son, Sruli, to please bring my blanket upstairs and put it on my bed.  His face lit up and he added, “I’m going to spread it and make it really nice.”

Sometimes we do things because they just make sense; sometimes we act with nostalgia and longing;  and sometimes we act just because we were asked.  

Mitzvot come in all shapes and sizes.  There are logical ones like not stealing, historical ones like eating matzah on Passover and ChukimChukim are those mitzvot for which we are not given a reason.  Chukim include some of the most well know mitzvoth like separating meat and milk and the entire framework of Kashrut.   The woman’s monthly visit to the Mikvah is also in this category.  Indeed this weeks Parsha which speaks about mitzvot in general is called “Bechukotai” – the word is related to the chukim, implying a connection between chukim and all other mitzvot.

It’s funny how a person who has kept kosher their entire life might have built a moral brick wall in their mind when thinking about popular fast food chains.  What does morality really have to do with diet – not much unless your diet is based on spirituality.   If asked why some basic American cuisines make them squirm and shift uncomfortably in their chair the kosher eater would be hard pressed for an answer other than ‘because it’s not kosher.’

There is an unparalleled strength in a commitment that is not born out of our own reasoning.  It’s wrong to steal….but what if you take from the rich & give to the poor?  Still wrong but you might find someone arguing that it should be done anyway.  While Matzah is part of Passover what if you just chose a different time to celebrate – not traditional but still makes you feel Jewish.  Meat and milk – there is nothing to discuss, no reasons to manipulate, no circles to philosophize around.  We don’t eat meat and milk together simply because G-d said not to in the Torah.  The mitzvahs that defy our rational minds are those that show our essential bond to the creator – they are the mitzvahs that develop our relationship with G-d and broadcast our distinct ways.

All mitzvot can be observed like the chukim.  When we view each mitzvah as something that surpasses the practical reasons, and historical signifigance, each individual mitzvah becomes a link in a lifelong relationship that we are constantly building with our creator.  So even is the blanket is spread with clumps – if it was done because we want to come closer to the one who asked, it is beautiful.

This week at Chabad:

Join us for Shabbat!!  Email tzipah@qchabad.org if you would like to join us for Friday night dinner or Shabbat lunch

Free Jewish Books:  Pick your favorite title.  Come to Chabad House (14403 69th ave.) on Thursday 3-5pm

Lemonade & Learning: 4:30pm Shabbat afternoon.  Relax with a cool drink and dynamic discussion.  Please make sure to RSVP here

Lag B’omer BBQ: 6pm on Sunday!!  Celebrate Lag B’omer in style

Late Night Breakfast:  Take a study break on Wednesday 8pm and come to Chabad for a delicious array of treats.  Pancakes, ice cream, coffee and more!

Good luck on finals & Shabbat Shalom


p.s. candle lighting this week in Queens will be at 7:48pm