CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES AND THE LAND OF ISRAEL

What I learned from a chocolate chip cookie!

Amazing what you can learn from a chocolate chip cookie!

by Tzvi Fishman

Believe it or not, chocolate chip cookies were one of the things that made me realize that a Jew’s true place is in Israel. When I started to learn about Judaism in Hollywood, someone told me that a Jew has to say a blessing before and after eating, in order to thank God for the sustenance He gives us. This is one of the 613 commandments of the Torah, which we find in the Torah portion of “Ekev” – “When thou hast eaten and are satisfied, then thou shall bless the Lord thy God for the good Land that he has given thee,” (Devarim, 8:10).

For instance, after eating a chocolate chip cookie, one says the following:

“Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the universe, for all of the nourishment and the produce of the field, and for the lovely and spacious Land which You didst grant to our forefathers as a heritage to eat of its fruit and enjoy its good gifts….”

My friend explained to me that the Land which God had given to our forefathers was the Land of Israel.

That’s strange, I thought. I mean, since I was in America, wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to thank God for California, or for the wheat fields of Kansas? But that’s not what the blessing said. A Jew was to thank God for Eretz Yisrael. The blessing said we were, “to eat of its fruits and enjoy its good gifts.” That was funny, I reflected.

The blessing after eating cookies continues:

“Have mercy, Lord our God, on Israel Your nation, on Jerusalem Your city, on Zion the abode of Your majesty, on Your altar and on Your Temple.”

Hmm, I thought. That’s interesting too. Why didn’t it say, “Have mercy on America Your nation, on Los Angeles Your city, on Hollywood the abode of Your majesty, on MGM Studios and on Grauman’s Chinese Theater?”

The blessing after eating cookies continues:

“Rebuild the holy city of Jerusalem speedily in our days. Bring us there and gladden us with the restoration of our Land; may we eat of its fruit and enjoy its good gifts; may we bless you for it in holiness and purity.”

Wow! That was really a mindblower. I mean, be honest. Look what the blessing says. After eating some chocolate chip cookies in LA, or a slice of pizza in Toronto, a tortilla in Mexico City, or one of those big salty pretzels off a push cart in New York, we ask God to rebuild Jerusalem and to bring us to the Land of Israel! We ask God to make us happy “with the restoration of our Land.”

Wow, I thought. America isn’t my land. My Land is the LAND OF ISRAEL.

And if the message wasn’t clear, the end of the blessing repeated it again, “Blessed are You, O Lord, for the Land of Israel and for the food.”

All that I learned from a chocolate chip cookie!

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