Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Relocation of a Baker!

I think it is fitting to mention my latest plans to my readers, particularly with spring coming; change is in the air. Ironically, at this moment, we are in the middle of a snow storm, nothing to crazy, but none the less, it seems that the environment is resisting this change, which I am eagerly awaiting. Passover is coming, and with passover comes the opportunity to prepare for spring. Cleaning is done, the kitchen is turned over, every last crumb of winter is accumulated and it is then burned. I remember this ceremony as a child always thinking wow my religion is weird while simultaneously saying wow my religion is cool. I may not know who the lord eternal is, but I have grown up in an environment which has allowed questions and even promotes the idea of doubt! Doubt itself is a very powerful tool or weapon. It can cause us to question all that we believe in but it can also help us to re-affirm our faith. We all have many doubts, in my life, they range from will I get this job, do I have the clinical skills, the confidence, the gusto, the nerve. But we can also doubt other things, other humans, other creatures (I often doubt a new starter! Will it work? Will it serve me well? Did I feed it enough? Provide enough love, diligence, time?) I love these philosophical monologues! They are fun for me! I have always had an immense love for questioning everything. Sometimes authority, sometime a recipe, growing up in an environment that nourished such doubt has made a impact on my outlook on life in a most positive way. I owe it to my parents for that, any my teachers and mentors along the way, who though had much more expereince and knowledge than I did, though they always heard my ideas, and nurtured them. I am forever grateful their time and support. 

Let us look at the concept of love for a moment. What is it? What does it do to us? Will we always be able to know when love is there? Or is it simply easier to notice when it is not? I find that to be a very interesting point. I myself, get used to having something around, and it is not till that 'thing' is gone that I notice the 'thing' was there in the first place. Love seems to be this abstract concept that can not be defined. It seems almost limitless. I once said, in regards to baking pumpernickel that:
"Remember, it is not the destination, it is the ride. This bread will teach you a lot about fermentation; a little about life; and a whole lot about love!” 
For me, truer words have not been spoken. For me love is defined by what I have come to know empirically. If I am referring to an individual that I have love for, I define that love based on the experiences we have shared, the memories, the lessons we have learned and the mingling of our experiences -your past experiences combined with my past expereince create this moment that we are experiencing together. For me love is built from memories, so each time I expereince a great and hilarious moment with my father, my love for him grows. Every time I hear a Jerry Garcia solo that rocks me, my love for music grows! Every time I give my mom a hug after a hard time we have shared, my love for her grows (as does my love for myself). Ever time my friends say something that takes me a while to understand my love for knowledge grows. I used to fear the word love romantically, but now I understand that love, as an emotion and a feeling is constantly in motion, constantly growing. If you asked me what memories I associate most with love I would have a different answer than I will in two months. That is because it is constantly permutate-ing, building on itself, growing, learning and being! Bread is my bridge of love. It connects the love that is in my heart with my love for others. So next time you eat a piece of bread, which has been in the making for over 48 hours and possibly if it is sourdough, a fragment of it has been in the making for years, even decades. Think of that old baker, waking early, hands in wet dough to the elbows, burns up and down forearms, sweaty brow, floury hair; think of that, a slice of love!

This brief philosophical deluge was actually caused by my up and coming move. I will be relocating for a job with my girlfriend and partner Kelly to Atlantic City New Jersey. But, please have no fear the Rye King will organize his soldiers, and will occupy yet another strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Liza May will in high spirit rise again and together we will continue our Edible Brot Journey through Germany. I hope you will understand that in the coming weeks it is going to be very difficult for me to bake bread, with Passover  around the corner, and the move, but I will do what I can to keep on feeding your head with this thing I call bread! 

Reply from myself:

I am now recalling a wonderful commentary that I found in Mahzor Lev Shalem   (a prayer book for the high holidays) this past Yom Kippur (day of atonement). Lev Shalem is used in hebrew for an action that you do with all your heart. The title of the commentary was 'Doubt'. How fitting? In Judaism, it is said that adding to a situation can simply detract, so I will not give you my thoughts on this passage, but rather, let your heart listen to the words, and give it your own tempo and melody, and may your experiences with doubt and faith provide the harmony. You should know that HaShem is a name for g-d, it literally means 'the name'. 


HaShem is the unseen one –no images can capture Hashem. Equally, then, HaShem is the one about whom no descriptive word can truly be uttered –that may be the secret of the Jewish sensibility which makes the name of HaShem unpronounceable.

There are moments –singular or common, depending perhaps on our personality –when we might feel the presence of HaShem, and certainly others when our reality –tragic, joyous, uneventful –is so overwhelmingly with us that even the idea of HaShem seems distant, perhaps ludicrous. And then there are those moments of aloneness when the world seems barren and the idea of HaShem seems distant, even absurd. The person of faith knows that presence and absence are equally true of the experience of HaShem. Sometimes HaShem feels so close that one experiences the presence of an intimate companion, but the obverse is also true. And in those moments of absence, we question whether the experience of presence was only a delusion.

To have faith is equally to know doubt. The person of faith knows that the atheist is not a person who is bull headed, unseeing, but rather someone who has exclusively experienced the absence, which is the lot of even the person of faith. Both faithfulness to HaShem and denial tell of our human reality. When the person of faith is in touch with the depth of his or her spiritual and rational consciousness, one knows that one’s heart contains both truths. What are we to do, then other than to live faithfully, with doubt?

Source: Feld E, Gordon RL, Kelman RS, et al. eds. Mahzor/Machzor Lev Shalem -New Gender Neutral Conservative High Holiday Prayerbook for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. 1st ed. The Rabbinical Assembly; 2010.

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