I'm just beginning my online class on "Torah, Talmud and Mishnah"...mastering the challenge of reading the Tanakh, even an English translation, from right to left, and learning about the Oral Torah, the body of laws and commentaries used in concert with the Tanakh. Among other things, it enhances my appreciation of Jesus' essential Jewishness -- the way he tells stories, the way he explains himself. Read this rabbinical parable:
B. Seder Eliyahu Zuta 2:
[A heretic asserted that] Scripture was given to us from Sinai, but not Mishnah. [Elijah answered him thus:] My son, were not both Scripture and Mishnah given by the Almighty? Does the fact that they are different from each other mean that both cannot have been given by Him? By what parable may the question be elucidated? By the one of a mortal king who had two servants, whom he loved with perfect love. To one he gave a measure of wheat, and to the other a measure of wheat; to one a bundle of flax, and to the other a bundle of flax. What did the clever one of the two do? He took the flax and wove it into a napkin. He took the wheat and made it into fine flour by sifting the grain and grinding it. Then he kneaded the dough and baked it, set the loaf of bread on the table, spread the napkin over the bread, and left it to await the coming of the king.
But the foolish one did not do anything at all.
After a while the king came into his house and said to the two servants: My sons, bring me what I gave you. One brought out the table with the loaf of bread baked of fine flour on it, with the napkin spread over the bread. The other brought out his wheat in a basket with a bundle of flax over the wheat grains.
What a shame! What a disgrace!
So, too, when the Holy One gave the Torah to Israel, He gave it as wheat to be turned into fine flour and as flax to be turned into cloth for garments.
This is great stuff; I'm looking forward to digging deeper in the weeks to come.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that, as I am writing this, a huge pot of chicken soup is simmering in the kitchen. Here is my recipe (I don't measure, so you're on your own; relax, don't stress, taste as you go, it'll be fine): I take meaty chicken parts; chicken broth; a few peppercorns; salt; chopped onion, a generous amount of garlic, celery, carrot and maybe some other root veggies like parsnips and turnips to make things a little more interesting. I put all this in a pot, top it off with water, bring it to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer it until the chicken is cooked through. I add a generous amount of dillweed (fresh if you can get it, which -- alas -- one cannot here in Outer Podunk) and a generous handful of parsley toward the end of the cooking. If you want chicken and rice soup, that's the time to add some rice. Or you can pour the soup over cooked noodles of your choice. Tonight I'm making spaetzle -- the little freeform dumplings -- and dropping them in the simmering soup.
This soup will cure most things that ail you, and it will also make your house smell wonderful. So make it already -- you look thin. Mazel tov!