Friday, September 20, 2019

Not Just a Cup of Coffee

One of the most cherished gifts that many people look forward to in the morning is that hot fresh cup of coffee. Indeed, for many of us, the day cannot really begin without that cup of joe. It can really make the difference between not only a good or bad morning but our day may feel off if we don't have that cup of coffee in the morning hours. Being that it’s such an important part of our lives, are thankful enough for that? There was an individual named A. J. Jacobs who not only wanted to thank his barista for making his morning coffee but he set out on a journey around the world to thank all the people involved in the process of making his coffee. All told, he found over 1,000 people involved in the process and thanked them all. He wrote a bestselling book a Gratitude Journey to record this exercise. It was not nearly as simple as he thought as a myriad of folks were involved in making his coffee a reality including the Minnesota miners who extract the iron that makes the steel used in coffee roasters, to the Madison Avenue marketers who captured his wandering attention for a moment, to the farmers in Colombia. Jacobs also discovers that his coffee and every other item in our lives would not be possible without hundreds of people we usually take for granted: farmers, chemists, artists, truckers, mechanics, biologists, miners, smugglers, and goatherds.

In this week's parsha we learn about the mitzva of Bikkurim which teaches us about bringing the first fruits to Jerusalem as an expression of thanksgiving to G-d for the bounty that we have received for that year. This is not just any mitzva. In fact, the first prayer a Jew says in the morning is Modeh Ani/ I give thanks to G-d for another day. Gratitude is a fundamental value in Judaism. Mr. Jacobs who did the gratitude exercise on coffee and wrote the book ironically refers to himself as agnostic but he has taught us all a deeply religious lesson in faith and in being a mensch.

Most Destructive Word in the English Language

I have always been intrigued by the “word of the year.” This last year of 2023, Merriam Webster designated “authentic” as the WOTY (word of ...