Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz – Three Lashes with a Wet Noodle

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Operation Inspiration

 

I know that the Torah says “the names of other gods shall not be heard from your mouth,” but I’m guessing that the prohibition doesn’t include the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

You may not have heard of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but this satirical “religion” was founded in 2005 to troll government officials and try to break down the walls between church and state. They say it’s “just as legitimate a religion as any other.”

The Spaghetti Monster’s followers, known as Pastafarians, have been known to wear ritual pasta strainers on their heads and invoke prayer that the Spaghetti Monster rise from its drunken stupor and benevolently wave its noodly appendages over the world. In some countries, these “religious leaders” are even allowed to officiate at marriages.

Of course, none of them really worship this semolina deity. Mostly these are secular people who laugh at religion and basically found the most “ungodly” thing they could think of, spaghetti, and chose it as their symbol of leadership. They use their platform to fight the teaching of Creation or even “Intelligent Design” in schools. While I understand that they think they’re being funny, I’m here to tell you that I disagree with them! I think that even spaghetti can be sanctified and used to express a higher intelligence (Hashem) and I’ll explain what I mean.

One day I was cleaning up the kitchen from a delicious spaghetti and meatball dinner. As I used a fork to scrape the remnants of a bowl of spaghetti into the trash, my world suddenly went into slow motion. It probably didn’t actually slow down, but my brain moved so quickly in the instant I’m about to discuss that it seemed like time was dragging and each second lasted maybe ten.

What happened was that a drop of sauce splashed out of the bowl. I saw it begin a slow arc up into the air and towards me. As it slowly moved through space, my mind screamed on silent terror, knowing that in a moment it would land on me and make me dirty. Why had I been so careless?!

As it continued its flight through the air with its sinister trajectory towards my person, my imagination began running wild with possibilities. Would it splatter the front of my shirt? My arm? Would it be able to be hidden under a jacket or would it land squarely in a highly-visible spot? Why wasn’t I wearing an apron, or at least making my kids do this? OK, so maybe the last one didn’t happen because I’m a guy who takes care of others more than I give them jobs, but you get the point.

You may be surprised that all these calculations could run through my mind in the millisecond it took for the speck of tomatoey goop to fly from bowl to me, but our minds are amazing things. In fact, it was my mind that took the lesson from this experience and told me that I’d be able to capture your attention with the concept of a spaghetti sauce stain, and it worked!

So… After what seemed like an eternity, the reddish droplet finally landed – on my hand! I was so grateful to Hashem because I can wash my hand easily and I didn’t have to change my shirt and send it to the cleaners for this stain. It was like being given a free pass on something, a warning from a police officer instead of a ticket, and a near miss with very happy results.

It made me think about when the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed. (I’ll bet you didn’t see that coming, did you?)

Due to our actions at the time, something had to happen to us. However, instead of destroying our nation, the equivalent in this situation of ruining the shirt, albeit temporarily, Hashem was merciful and took away wood and stones, a physical building of spiritual magnitude to be sure, but more replaceable than Klal Yisrael itself.

I’m sure it happens all the time but we don’t recognize it. Hashem sends something our way and we feel like we’re suffering, but we don’t realize that Hashem may very well be saving us from something worse and irreversible. Instead of lamenting how bad things are, we should think about my flying spaghetti “monster” and appreciate that we may have been saved from a worse fate.

If we see Hashem’s kindness even in “bad” things, we’ll begin to appreciate how He relates to us. The month of the churban, of the first and second Bais HaMikdash, as well as many other destructions, is called Av, the Father. That’s because everything that happens TO us really happens FOR us, and is done with love and concern, even the sometimes distressing flying spaghetti monsters of life.

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