On a journey to visit the Chozeh of Lublin, Reb David of Lelov stopped at the home of a dear friend with whom he hoped to make the rest of the journey. His friend was quite poor, yet he asked his wife to prepare a meal for his beloved David.
The woman was shocked. All she had was a bit of flour, not even a pinch of salt or a drop of oil to add a bit of flavor. Still, she went out to the forest, gathered twigs for a fire, mixed her flour with water, and boiled dumplings for her husband, their friend, and herself.
When Reb David returned home from Lublin, he told his wife of his journey. “When I ate with my friend, his wife prepared a meal of such delicacy that it tasted as if it was flavored with spice from Gan Eden (Garden of Eden). Never have I eaten such food!”
Knowing her husband to be of a mystical bent and unimpressed by things of this world, Reb David’s wife knew that this delicacy must he rare indeed. She set off at once for the friend’s house and asked his wife to share the recipe with her.
“What delicacy?” she said. “It was flour and water.”
“No, no,” the other insisted. “My David said it tasted like something from Gan Eden!”
Suddenly her friend’s eyes grew wide with astonishment. “Gut in Himmel! (God in heaven!)” she said. “When I was gathering the twigs for the fire, I prayed to God, saying, `Ribbono shel Olam (Master of the Universe), I have nothing with which to honor Reb David, but You, HaShem (literally, The Name), You have the Garden of Eden. So please, won’t You add a bit of spice to these dumplings I am cooking that Reb David might find some enjoyment in them?’ It seems that HaShem heard my prayer!”
Gut in Himmel: “God in heaven! ” a common Yiddish expression of awe.
Ribbono shel Olam: Master of the Universe, considered an intimate name for God.
HaShem: The Name. The Name of God, made up of four Hebrew consonants, YHVH, is unpronounceable according to both Jewish law and the limits of human speech. The euphemism HaShem, or The Name, is used to refer to this Name of God.
What do you have by which to honor another? Your mind? Your heart? Your skill? All of these are gifted to you by God. The thoughts you think and the ideas you nurture can all be traced to teachers and sages of the past. The feelings you feel are not yours; you cannot keep the ones you like and discard the ones you dislike. The works of your hands are the result of tutoring and mentoring by others. All you have and all you are come to you from the efforts of others and, ultimately, the grace of God. Without these gifts you have nothing; indeed, without them you are nothing.
When you realize you are nothing without the constant gifting of God and the universe, you realize you have nothing to offer another and must rely solely on God. “Ribbono shel Olam, I am nothing without You and the gifts with which You grace my life. I cannot honor another and can only turn to You. Use me as a vehicle for the blessings of others, and I shall be grateful for the opportunity to serve.” When you can pray these words with sincerity, you are ready to taste the spice of Gan Eden.