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Coffee is an excuse…

August 19, 2013

CoffeeI noticed in a Shiur I read the following quote – An old Turkish proverb states: “My heart wants neither coffee nor coffeehouse; my heart wants a friend, coffee is an excuse.”

This is a summary of this week Parsha Ki Tavo from – When Bnei Yisrael dwell in the Land of Israel, its first fruits are to be taken to the Temple and given to the kohen in a ceremony expressing recognition that it is G-d who guides the history of the Jewish People throughout all ages. This passage forms one of the central parts of the Haggadah that we read at the Passover Seder. On the last day of Pesach of the fourth and seventh years of the seven-year shemitta cycle, a person must recite a disclosure stating that he has indeed distributed the tithes to the appropriate people in the prescribed manner. With this mitzvah Moshe concludes the commandments that G-d has told him to give to the Jewish People. Moshe exhorts them to walk in G-d’s ways, because they are set aside as a treasured people to G-d. When Bnei Yisrael cross the Jordan River they are to make a new commitment to the Torah. Huge stones are to be erected and the Torah is to be written on them in the world’s seventy primary languages, after which they are to be covered over with a thin layer of plaster. Half the tribes will stand on Mount Gerizim, and half on Mount Eval, and the levi’im will stand in a valley between the two mountains. There the levi’im will recite 12 commandments and all the people will answer “amen” to the blessings and the curses. Moshe then details the blessings that will be bestowed upon Bnei Yisrael. These blessings are both physical and spiritual. However if the Jewish People do not keep the Torah, Moshe details a chilling picture of destruction, resulting in exile and wandering among the nations.

Lately I walk around people ask me “Which coffee shop are you going to today?” or I get phone calls “I am in ,,,, Where is a good coffee shop?”

This week’s Torah portion (Ki Tavo) and last week’s Torah portion (Ki Tetsei) includes various rules relating to creating and maintaining a proper society. Among them are: taking of the first fruits, giving of charity, respect for the elderly, respect for our parents, the commandment to return lost objects; to help an owner unload an over-burdened animal; to build a safety fence around one’s roof so no one will accidentally fall off, to offer loans to those in need, to pay labourers on time, to provide justice to the widow and orphan.

Rabbi Marc D. Angel says “all of these rules contribute to a society with moral fibre, with a social texture that is inclusive, caring and loving. They teach us to focus on the “other” as a fellow human being, rather than as a nameless, faceless entity.”

Who is the Other? One of the others are friends. In my learning and reading over the last few weeks I have come across this concept of friends a few times.

In my Gemara Shiur (Bava Metzia 30b1 in Artscroll) I have been learning about the obligation to return lost objects and more specifically when one does not have to return a lost object and the Gemorah talks about returning an object “if it is his friends”.

In the Rabbeinu Yona[1] section of the “Summer Special[2]” we learn the following from Pirkei Avos (Ethics of our fathers) – “Make someone your Rabbi and acquire a friend”

Yehoshua ben Perachia (Avot 1:1) says a person needs a good friend for three purposes:

  1. To learn Torah. As one Sage said: “I have learned much from my teachers, but even more from my friends.”
  2. To be more careful in observing the mitzvot. Even if one of them will be tempted to transgress he will not allow the other to fall as well. This offers hope for both of them to improve.
  3. To enjoy his counsel and have someone in whom he can confide. The term “acquire” employed here is to indicate that if he can find no other route he should be prepared to pay anything to gain a good friend. It also suggests that one should be prepared to “buy” a good friend with soft-spoken patience and to show him tolerance, even when he says something offensive. Otherwise the differences in human personalities will create situations that will lead to strains that can endanger the friendship.

Reading the Aish HaTorah[3] commentary on this week’s Parsha the question is asked – What is the essence of friendship? The article goes on to say the true essence of friendship is loyalty. A true friend is always there for you. The Hebrew word for friend is “chaver” – from the word “chibbur” which means attached, joined. A true friend is someone whose love is unconditional, who will be there for you always. The very foundation of friendship is loyalty.

Rabbi Angel goes on to say the following – “We all need to worry less about coffee, and more about friendship. We need to maintain and deepen the texture and traditions of our lives, of our communities and societies. We need to put down our cell phones (this applies to me as well!!!), stop our texting, and concentrate on the people around us. We need to strengthen the fabric of our communities by connecting us to each other, and by connecting our generations to past generations and to the generations yet to come.”

From a health perspective I read the following article on the  website that I follow – Turn Your Coffee Habit Into A Healthy Morning Ritual With These 5 Tips (Refer for the full article – )

  1. Start your morning with water.
  2. Skip the chemical additives.
  3. Add anti-oxidizing & healing spices.
  4. Add coconut oil. (Not sure about this one!!)
  5. Turn your coffee into a ritual.

Coffee isn’t necessarily bad on its own; it in fact can provide many health benefits. The problem usually arises when we add too much sugar, dairy and artificial ingredients to our coffee… or when we overdo it.

Friends and frienships have been a very big part of my life and I treasure the relationship I have with my friends. I really enjoy spending time with my friends at home, out and about, on my bike, going for a run, on holidays and of course at coffee shops. From a personal perspective I #lovegoodcoffee.

On a lighter side I noticed the following quote on Twitter from @itsWillyFerrell – “Friendships must be built on a solid foundation of sarcasm, inappropriateness, and shenanigans.”

[1] Yonah ben Abraham Gerondi (Hebrew: יונה גירונדי‎) (died 1263), also known as Rabbenu Yonah (רבנו יונה) and Yonah of Gerona, was a Catalan rabbi and moralist, cousin of Nahmanides. He is most famous for his ethical work The Gates of Repentance


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One Comment
  1. Mom permalink

    Only picked up blog now. Interesting and meaningful thoughts on friends – loyalty is a true committment. Well written enjoyed your views & thoughts. Coffe is also gd for the ‘soul’!!!

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