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Imagine, a couple gets married, and the man says to his new wife, "Would you make me something to eat, please? I'll be right back." The guy comes back 3300 years later...

Cold Soup

Cold Soup

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If you ask someone coming out of church on a Sunday, "Do you believe in G-d?" the worshipper is shocked. "What type of question is that? Of course I do!" If you then ask him, "Do you consider yourself religious?" what will the answer be? "Certainly. That's why I'm here!"

If you go to a mosque on Friday and you ask the average person there, "Do you believe in G-d?" what will the answer be? "Definitely." "Do you consider yourself religious?" "Well, obviously."

This is normal. These conversations make sense.

Now go to a synagogue on Yom Kippur. Ask the Jew sitting in the synagogue on Yom Kippur, fasting, "Do you believe in G-d?"

You cannot get a straight answer. "Umm, it depends on what you mean by 'G-d'." That's if they're the philosophical type. Otherwise they'll simply say, "What am I? A rabbi? I don't know."

So then ask them, "Do you consider yourself religious?" Have you ever asked an American Jew if they're religious? They crack up laughing. And they assure you that they're the furthest things from religious. "Are you kidding? Do you know what I eat for breakfast?"

Then every one of them will say, "I had a grandfather, on my mother's side, oh, that was a religious man. But me...?"

So you ask what appears to be a logical question. "Then why are you here?"

For some reason, this average Jew, who doesn't believe in G-d and is very not religious, will look at you like you're crazy and say, "What do you mean? It's Yom Kippur!"

This is not normal.

Let's analyze this for a moment. What is this Jew actually saying?

You asked him if he believes in G-d and he said "No." Or "When I was younger I used to." Or "When I get older I'll start to."

"So you don't believe in G-d?"

"No. I don't."

"Are you religious?"

"Furthest thing from it."

"So why are you here?"

"Because it's Yom Kippur!"

What he's saying is this: "Why am I here? Because G-d wants a Jew to be in the synagogue on Yom Kippur. So where else should I be?"

So you say: "But you don't believe in G-d."

He says, "So what?" and he doesn't understand your problem.

He is saying: "Today is Yom Kippur even if I don't have a calendar. This is a synagogue even if I don't like it. I am a Jew even if I'm not religious, and G-d is G-d even when I don't believe in Him. So what's your problem?"

Now that can be dismissed, and unfortunately many of us do dismiss it, as sheer hypocrisy. We say, "You don't believe in G-d and you're not religious--don't come to the synagogue. Don't come here just to show how Jewish you are."

The Lubavitcher Rebbe has a different approach. This insanity is what makes us Jewish. This is what shows how special we are in our relationship with G-d.

That's called truth. It's not about me. I don't want to be religious. I don't want to believe in G-d, I don't want to hear about this. But He wants me here, so here I am.

The same thing happens on Passover. Every Jew sits by a Seder. Ask the average Jew at a Seder, do you believe in G-d? Leave me alone. Are you religious? He chokes on the matzo laughing. So you're celebrating the Exodus from Egypt 3300 years ago? History is not my subject. Then why are you here? Where should I be? It's Passover! That's what's so magnificent about the Jew.

Now let's put it all in context. Three thousand, three hundred and fifteen years ago G-d asked us if we would marry him. We had an extraordinary wedding ceremony, with great special effects--we were wowed. After the wedding He said, "I have a few things I'd like you to take care of for me so, please... I'll be right back." He hasn't been heard from since. For more than three thousand, three hundred years. He has sent messengers, messages, postcards--you know, writing on the walls... but we haven't heard a word from Him in all this time.

Imagine, a couple gets married, and the man says to his new wife, "Would you make me something to eat, please? I'll be right back." She begins preparing. The guy comes back 3300 years later, walks into the house, up to the table, straight to his favorite chair, sits down and tastes the soup that is on the table. The soup is cold.

What will his reaction be? If he's a wise man, he won't complain. Rather he'll think it's a miracle that the house is still there, that his table and favorite chair are still there. He'll be delighted to see a bowl of soup at his place. The soup is cold? Well, yes, over 3300 years, soup can get cold.

Now we are expecting Moshiach. The Rebbe introduced this radical notion that Moshiach is going to come now. What makes that so radical? It means he's going to come without a two-week notice. We always thought there was going to be some warning, so that we could get our act together before he comes. Moshiach, coming now? But now I'm not ready. I don't want to be judged the way I am. I need a little bit of a notice.

If Moshiach comes now, and wants to judge, what's he going to find? Cold soup?

If Moshiach comes now, the Rebbe tells us, he will find an incredibly healthy Jewish people. After 3300 years we are concerned about being Jewish, which means we are concerned about our relationship with G-d.

Yes, if Moshiach comes today, he'll find that our soup is cold. We suffer from separation anxiety. We suffer from a loss of connection to our ancestors. We suffer a loss of connection even to our immediate family. The soup is cold. The soup is very cold. But whose fault is that? And who gets the credit for the fact that there is soup altogether?

We are a miracle. All we need to do is tap into it. We are the cure. Not only for ourselves, but also for the whole world. Through us the healing is holistic, it's natural, it's organic. Our relationship with G-d is organic. It's not a religion that we practice--it's us, it's who we are, it's what we are.

So the Rebbe tells us that the way to go is straight to G-d. Skip all the steps, skip the Kabbalah, go straight to G-d and be in touch with your purpose. The purpose is not Kabbalistic. The purpose is personal. G-d needs you to do a mitzvah. He sent you into this world to be who you are, because only you can do this particular kind of mitzvah. True, the mitzvot are the same for all of us. But when you do it, it's different, because it's holistic. It's with your emotions, with your past problems, with your family background, with your knowledge and with your ignorance. All that comes together and makes your mitzvah holistically unique.

So let Moshiach come now and catch us here with our cold soup because we have nothing to be ashamed of. We are truly incredible. When G-d decided to marry us, He knew He was getting a really good deal.

Rabbi Manis Friedman, a noted Chassidic philosopher, author and lecturer, is dean of Bais Chanah Women's Institute of Jewish Studies.
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Discussion (30)
June 16, 2014
Cold Soup
God doesn't care how cold the soup is, he want to know how many people was fed with it, and are they still hungry for more? The soup is like the word of God. He left it here to be served to everyone. It is up to you if you eat it or not. Just don't complain to him if you are still hungry when he starts to clear the table.
Alona Israel
Covington
May 8, 2014
Dear RAbbi Friedman,

I heard you deliver this speech years ago in Houston. Actually, the speech was a little different. The sons were arguing about what kind of soup the "father" wanted. And you said the father should be happy, after being gone so long, that anyone cared what kind of soup he wanted, and he would (or should) be glad to get it, no matter what kind of soup it was. And I suppose it was also cold.

Anyway, it's nice to see it again here, especially with such a beautiful moral.

And by the way, so far my grandchildren, thank Gd, are Jewish. The older one has worn a tallis for two years, at his own request. The younger one attends a Jewish kindergarten.
Chanah
Rochester
September 26, 2012
Very potent, very true! But I think people are scared also of Mashiach's coming! They say in their heart but what about the music I love or the programme I love on tv etc etc. I personally feel that when Mashiach comes B'H whatever we should do as Jews or not do, we will WANT to do - miraculously placed in our hearts, in our feelings, and in our minds!!! So I feel that more should be said about how we 'cope' with Mashiach's coming. B'H sooner than soon!
rachel vardi
israel
chabadbythesea.com
September 26, 2012
Nice
I'm not Jewish (I read this out of curiousity when a Jewish friend posted a link to it on Facebook), but I find this really interesting and moving. Thank you for the great perspective.
Michael
Los Angeles
chabadbythesea.com
September 9, 2012
I'm a very proud Jew, always trying to learn more and do more Mitzvah's But what wife in her right mind would not be angry with her husband who did not come back for dinner?
Anonymous
Holland , Pa
April 14, 2011
cold soup
this soup needs no spoon! just take the bowl and.....aahh.....enjoy!....wonderful as always, my dear friend...G-d bless you and have a kosher and frailiche pesach...see you in yerushalayim!!!...with much love!
malachi
morristown, nj
March 30, 2011
Cold Soup, Warm Heart
Thanks for this. I'm going to show this article to my 26 year old who at times struggles with 'why be Jewish'. This articulates my belief in why it's so great to b a Jew.
Ed Katz
Mesa, Az
February 10, 2011
Cold Soup
Wow I really enjoyed reading this. Made me both laugh and cry - providing a unique perspective. I've often asked those same questions about sincerity of belief - regarding others and myself at varying times. My relationship with G-d and religion has been push-pull, but it remains. And I've grown to love it as it is. For, like all Jews, I am uniquely human. And I'm pretty sure G-d knows this, and is quite happy about it.
Cathy Fried
Toronto, Canada
February 1, 2011
wow
I agree, we ARE a miracle .. but I mean, we should get better at our mitzvot! Cure the faults in our long-distance relationship! Aren't we supposed to heat up the soup for Him?
nathalie
January 9, 2011
All Knowing
Thank you for a wonderful story. G-d knows our hearts and minds and He has not been unaware of our trials and tribulations. Yes, you can bet He's aware the soup is cold - but He also knows we've still got the light on and the table is set.
Victor Walker
Baltimore, MD/USA
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