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Story: Parshat Eikev, 8/23/19

08/25/2019 02:15:08 PM


Rabbi Charlie

Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion speaks of how the Israelites experienced hardships and blessings as they wandered through the wilderness. It teaches us to give thanks for the food that we eat and care for those in need.

And that reminded me of a mashal, a story. It’s a story that begins with a weary traveler named Nechama.

Nechama had always had a restless spirit. Tragedy took the love of her life years before and now that her children had families of their own, her restless spirit led her to travel from place to place. She loved meeting new people and supported herself by helping where she could.

It was a life that brought her joy, but had been a hard winter. Her travelling pack was far too light and the rumbling in her belly was far too loud. Nechama was relieved when she finally arrived at a small shtetl. As she walked into the tiny village, it was strange that no one was out and about. She started to knock on doors to see if she could trade odd jobs and a few stories for a meal and a place to sleep.

Surprisingly, at every house she was turned away. Everyone said the same - They had their own problems and they couldn’t help. She realized that while it had been a hard winter for her, it must have been very challenging for this little town.

She was hungry. She had to do something. So, she created a small cookfire in the middle of the shtetl. Next, she gathered a little water from the well, she washed the dirt off a nice sized stone, and then put some water and the stone in a small pot over the fire. Eyes peered out of windows, but Nechama pretended not to notice. Soon, a few curious children came over to ask what she was doing.

“I’m making stone soup,” she replied. “It’s wonderful! I think you’ll love it!”

The kids laughed and when Nechama didn’t laugh with them, they were confused. They went back to their homes and soon the whole village was gathered around Nechama, demanding to know what was going on.

Nechama shared a little of her story – about her children and her love and her travels. She explained that in all her wanderings, the most incredible meal she had ever eaten was stone soup.  She said that she’d be happy to prepare it for everyone, but she’d need a bigger pot. After the storytelling, one of the villagers was interested enough and brought a very large pot. They filled it with water, dropped the stone in, and waited for it to boil.

“Is that it?” one of the children asked loudly. “Well…” said Nechama. “It’s really good on its own, but it’s even better with a little salt and pepper. Another villager said they had enough salt and pepper to share and salt and pepper went into the pot. “Is that it?” the same child asked. “Well…” said Nechama. “It’s really good on its own, but it’s even better with a few onions.” “Oh, we have a few onions to spare,” offered another family and the onions went into the pot. “Is that it?” came the question and Nechama responded with another ingredient.

Soon, carrots and beans and barley and celery and herbs and spices and more all went into the pot. As it cooked, Nechama shared stories and heard about life in the shtetl. It had been a difficult winter and everyone was feeling pretty isolated by the issues they were dealing with. They agreed that it had been far too long since they had gathered together.

When the soup was ready, bowls were brought and passed around. Everyone agreed that stone soup was the best meal they had ever tasted. They thanked Nechama for the meal and they thanked Nechama for bringing them together. Nechama spent a few months in the shtetl, made lasting relationships, and then continued on her way with promises to return.

Yes, this is a story about Hospitality. And Yes, this is a story about Tzedakah. And Yes, this is primarily a story about Community. It is easy to get wrapped up in our own business and our own difficulties. When we remember that we can share our stories with people who care and find support in our community, life gets easier. And when we make a contribution, we often receive so much more.

Welcome back everyone! I’m looking forward to a great year! Shabbat Shalom!

Thu, August 6 2020 16 Av 5780