Last Friday night I was putting the food away in the refrigerator after the meal, when I noticed that the refrigerator felt suspiciously warm. I opened the freezer, and my suspicions were confirmed—the ice-cube trays were dripping, the bags of frozen vegetables were limp. I quickly checked the outlet and found that the refrigerator plug had somehow become dislodged.

Plugging it back in, of course, was simply not an option. It was Shabbat, after all, and turning on electrical devices is forbidden. At that late hour I couldn’t disturb my non-Jewish neighbors to ask for help, and in any case, it is not always halachically ideal to ask a non-Jew to perform forbidden labor on Shabbat.The refrigerator felt suspiciously warm

I started to panic, thinking of all the food in the fridge that was at risk of spoiling. What would we eat the next day? But I was also aggravated. It was the same annoyance I had felt the week before, when my toddler turned on my bedroom light during Shabbat, or the times we forgot to set the air conditioner before Shabbat and had to swelter for 25 hours.

“Thank You, G‑d,” I muttered under my breath. “Thank You very much.”

I do not recall feeling this angry over weather-related power outages. But when it’s Shabbat-related, I seethe.

My inner dialogue goes something like this: “G‑d, You asked me to keep Shabbat. I do it. You asked me to prepare the food in advance because cooking on Shabbat is forbidden. I do it. I’m grateful for the gift of electricity and electrical appliances that help us keep the food fresh overnight. I keep my end of the deal—I don’t turn them on or operate them on Shabbat. So, can You help me out here? Can You not make it harder than it already is?”

It’s as if I signed a bargain with G‑d—I will keep the commandments, and in return, at the very least, I am owed a pleasant, hassle-free experience.

But is that really the deal? In this week’s Torah portion we read the well-known words that we recite every day in our prayers: “You shall love G‑d, your G‑d, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might.”1 And the words “with all your might,” according to Rashi, mean “even if He takes your life.”

I grew up listening to inspiring stories of Jewish martyrs who were forced to give up their lives during the Holocaust, the Crusades, the Inquisition. They went to their deaths proudly, defiantly, with the words of Shema on their lips.

But G‑d isn’t asking for my life. He’s asking for my potato kugel.

The climax of the Yom Kippur service is Neilah, the final prayer before G‑d seals our fate for the coming year. After Neilah, the congregation calls out together the verses of Shema and Baruch Shem, and concludes by repeating seven times, “The L‑rd is our G‑d.” I always get choked up during this point in the service. It is written in the machzor that while saying these words, we should imagine ourselves giving up our lives to sanctify G‑d’s name, and it will be considered as if we had actually done so.

When I cry out those words on Yom Kippur, I picture fiery furnaces. What I don’t picture is standing in front of my refrigerator door, stamping my feet.

A representative of the Soviet Communist Party once visited a rural Russian village. He gathered the impoverished villagers together and gave them a rousing talk about the wonders of the communist system. At the end of his talk he turned to his audience and demanded, “Who is ready to give a hundred rubles to the Party?”“Who is ready to give six chickens?”

All the villagers cried out enthusiastically, “We will, we will!”

Then he asked, “Who is ready to give a thousand rubles to the Party?”

Again they shouted, “We will, we will!”

Then his voice dropped and he asked, almost in a whisper, “Who is ready to give six chickens?”

At this, the crowd fell silent—because, indeed, six chickens were all they had.

Well, I have six chickens sitting in my freezer, at risk of defrosting. Am I ready to give them up for G‑d?

When G‑d does make demands of me, they tend to be in trivial areas—but areas that hit me where it counts. And in doing so, G‑d is giving me an opportunity, in my own way, to join the ranks of Jewish heroes. It’s not every day that I get to fulfill the commandments “with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my might.”

The little inconveniences and hassles that G‑d strews in our path while fulfilling a mitzvah are His gift to us—a way of deepening our connection to Him.

Thank You, G‑d. Thank You very much.

P.S.: The refrigerator stayed unplugged for the rest of Shabbat. We and the food all survived.