A priest pops into one of his new converts on a Friday night, and to his great displeasure, sees the table laid out for Shabbat dinner, replete with chicken soup and gefilte fish.
“What?! I thought you became non-Jewish?” he exclaims in question.
“No, you misunderstand!” the man responds, “This isn’t Shabbat dinner at all! Why, I dipped that gefilte fish three times in water and said ‘you’re a pig’, ‘you’re a pig’, ‘you’re a pig’…
A good laugh that holds a lot of truth! Indeed, no matter how deeply we succumb, the transformations we attempt to make to our identity are like a mere sprinkling of water – they can never truly change who we are.
The great Talmudic sage Rabbi Akiva once related a parable wherein a fox questions a fish:
“Why don’t you ascend to dry land instead of fleeing the fishermen who set up nets in the water?”
“You speak foolishly,” responds the fish, “if we leave the waters we will certainly die!”
Concluded Rabbi Akiva, “The Jew, as the fish in the water, must always be immersed in his soul’s nourishment – the Torah and its commandments.”
Indeed, what we intrinsically yearn for is not a matter to be reasoned with – it is, quite simply, our very lifeline.
So when our identity kicks in this High Holiday season, no need to muse about why it’s decided to rear its head, after all, it is simply who we are!
A Jew sensing his identity is a fish in need of water.
This year, let’s embrace that urge to feel connected and take action to realize its powers.
What’s more, let’s resolve to further develop our soul’s sensitivities all year long so that when these same emotions surface the next High Holidays, we will welcome them with a knowing heart.
Wishing you and your family a Shabat Shalom and Chag Sameach!