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Dec. 31, 2021

Yogurt Explosions (Vaeira)

I am wondering if you can relate. Every morning, when I open up my yogurt for breakfast, I find myself doing one of two things. Either I find myself wiping the exploded yogurt off my jacket on a good day, or out of my eye on a bad day. Some times I feel like the yogurt has a mind of its own. You can open it up facing away from you, with extended arms, and full body armor, yet somehow the yogurt will find a way to get on you. Strange, I know. But annoyingly and frustratingly true.

Who is to blame? Is it you, for making the same mistake every day? Or maybe it’s the plastic company who designs the yogurt containers? Or maybe, if you are eating Greek yogurt, you are to blame the actual Greeks. Who knows?

I researched this subject and came to the conclusion that yogurt really does have a mind of its own. Well, sort of. You see, yogurt is alive. It contains “live and active cultures” which refer to the living organisms, i.e., bacteria. The technical names of these bacteria are lactobacillus and streptococcus. I do apologize if you will never look at yogurt the same.

We see something incredible about yogurt. The reason why it explodes every single time you open it is because the bacteria inside is active and alive and is waiting, anticipating, yearning, and excited to come out and be released.

For hundreds of years, the Jewish people were stuck in the confines of Egypt. They were trapped in the “container” called מצרים. Chazal, in fact, refer to Egypt as a קדירה, a pot. The Jews were surrounded from all sides. No nation every escaped – successfully – from Egypt. Would the Jews be any different?

Other nations got swallowed up by Egypt, and would either be killed out or end up succumbing to Egyptian culture and philosophy. But not the Jews. The Jews, that is, one-fifth of the Jewish population – despite being on the 49th level of impurity and despite being entrenched, surrounded, and trapped by the Egyptians – were still very much spiritually active and alive. They were waiting, anticipating, yearning, and excited to come out and be released!

My friends, we can learn a lesson from anything. Even yogurt? Yes, especially yogurt. Just like yogurt explodes each time you open it since it is filled with active and alive bacteria, so too the Jewish people. We are filled with so much spiritual energy and potential. We are active and alive. We are capable of so much.

Successful Jews have made it out of difficult circumstances by choosing to remain spiritually active and alive despite the difficulties they were facing. The Jews did it in Egypt. And we continue to do it until today.

Sometimes, we put barriers around ourselves. Sometimes, we put ourselves in containers that so-to-speak block us from reaching our true potential. Sometimes, the world around us seems to be entrenching us in its physical, mundane, and base clutches.

We have to realize that deep down, there is a part of us that is always active and alive, waiting to burst forth and explode with spirituality and goodness. I am referring not to the Yogurt in your fridge, but to the נשמה, the holy soul – the special spark of Heaven – that is contained inside of you.

Connect with it. Get to know it. Open it up and explode with holiness.

Have a holy Shabbos! Ori Strum