Yesterday, a group of people I know were going out to lunch and asked me to join them. Unfortunately, I was tied up in another meeting and unable to attend. But I was a little hungry and they were kind enough to bring me back some matzo ball soup from the local Jewish delicatessen. Shapiro’s has been in business for more than 100 years and, in fact, it was where I was having lunch the first day that I was in Indianapolis back in 1982 – the same day as the horrific Tylenol incident in Arlington Heights, IL.
I remembered how concerned I was that Janet and the rest of the family was okay when that famous tampering issue happened. Several people died and the whole thing happened not more than 15 minutes from where our family lived. Needless to say, that day left a lasting impression on me throughout the years. I have only been back to the deli several other times in the intervening 32 years, but each time I have Shapiro’s food, my mind goes back to that day back in 1982.
So yesterday, while I was eating my soup, I decided to Google “matzo balls” to find out what they are made of. It was entertaining reading and I learned that they are generally made from meal and seasonings, bound together with chicken and egg fat, generally served in a chicken broth base. Even more interesting than the recipe was the discussion about the correct spelling of “matzo” in the original Hebrew. Whenever we try to convert a Hebrew word from the original language to English, there is room for interpretation of the spelling.
I learned that the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion was a 13 year old Indian boy who won the competition by “correctly” spelling the word “knaidel” – the original word for a small dumpling, or matzo ball. However, Yiddish people immediately protested the spelling of the winning word, submitting that the correct spelling is really “kneydl”. Believe it or not, I spent my entire lunchtime reading about all kinds of facts about matzo balls.
The most interesting tidbit I picked up was that there seems to be quite a stir about which kind of matzo balls are the best – those that “float” or those that “sink.” There are called, appropriately, “sinkers” or “floaters.” I immediately looked in my styrofoam cup to see which kind I had and was thinking I had a “floater.” However, upon closer examination, I discovered that there was a second matzo ball in the bottom of the container, holding up the first one. Therefore, I concluded, I must have had “sinkers”….. In all honesty, I was a little disappointed as everyone seems to think that “floaters” taste better than “sinkers.” Since I have only had them once or twice in my entire life, I am not the definitive authority on this topic but I really thought they tasted pretty good to me!
It occurred to me that the faith journey of the people of God, both Jewish and Gentile, is very similar to my lunchtime experience yesterday. I started down one path and ended up learning far more than I ever expected; and I even developed a healthy respect for the history and complexity of my lunch yesterday! That’s the way it is with God. Most of us learn about God on a very cursory level and don’t think too much about our increase in faith and maturity until something piques our interest – at which time we make a decision about learning more or being content with where we are.
I think the most contented creatures on earth are those who have taken the time to learn more about God and have invested in doing the difficult work of learning about the history of God’s people and His desire for them. In honor of our Jewish friends, tonight’s verse is the Shema, from Deut. 6:4-9, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
My encouragement this evening is that God wants you to be inquisitive and have the desire to know more about Him. My prayer is that you will delve deeper into the Scripture and that you will have an eternal relationship with God. Because this is the most important thing that you can do – it’s much more serious than wondering whether your matzo balls are “sinkers” or “floaters.” Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…