S.T.O.P., Look, and Listen
One Shabbos, I wanted to make a delicious yet healthy dessert. I found a recipe for coconut and hazelnut truffles, and I decided to give it a whirl. The recipe required an unusual ingredient, and I called a few stores to see if they carried it.
Unfortunately, it could not be found in typical kosher stores, nor any health food stores near me. I looked online, but none of the products would arrive in time for Shabbos. I took note of the brand that had a visible kosher symbol, made several more calls to additional stores, and finally found one that had it.
I quickly bought the ingredient and brought it home, and then began the process of concocting truffles. It took more time than I had intended, and yielded much more than I had anticipated. I ended up making over 100 truffles!
Much later that evening, I was randomly struck with the thought to double-check the package for the hechsher. To my horror, the package had no kosher symbol whatsoever. I scanned it over and over but could not find the symbol I had seen online.
As with most of us, I don’t actually have time to make 100 truffles, especially not ones that can’t even be eaten. As I started to panic, my inner dialogue began:
How is it possible that there is no symbol? I can’t believe how much time I’ve wasted. I must call a rav before I toss them, just to be sure.
Immediately I phoned a friend who uses this ingredient often to see if it was the same brand—no such luck. I then took some pictures of my package, emailed a rabbi, and anxiously waited for his response.
Standing by my kitchen table, staring at the product, I forced myself to do the following: I stopped, took a deep breath, observed, and attempted to gain perspective.
These steps make a useful acronym: STOP.
S – stop
T – take a deep breath
O – observe
P – attempt to gain perspective
The truffle situation reminded me of something Rivka Malka Perlman once shared. While shopping with her daughter, she faced many challenges finding clothing that was both tznius and fashionable. They finally found a dress, and her daughter tried it on. It was the perfect length and neckline, but was just a bit too tight. The dress was beautiful, but the daughter ultimately sighed and said, “It’s okay, Hashem, this dress is my korban to You.”
Knowing how difficult it is to decline a dress that is beautiful but borderline immodest, I was impressed by her strength.
Back in my kitchen, I declared, “Okay Hashem, this is my sacrifice to You.”
I called my friend again, and said through gritted teeth, “I have decided, I am so lucky that this is my nisayon [test]. Thank You, Hashem, for giving me a nisayon that is so easy to pass and learn from. What a great nisayon to have.” The more I thought about it, the more I meant it, and the better I felt. No anger, no resentment we left in me. Just gratitude for the opportunity to grow.
Then, something unexpected happened. The next morning, I received an email from the Rav, informing me that the item was actually kosher! I passed it the test, and I got to have my coconut truffles (and eat them, too)!
This was admittedly a minor moment, but I learned three deeper lessons from the experience.
The words thank You for this test really struck me. A few days afterward, Hashem handed me a much larger, personal test. Surely if I could feel lucky regarding the truffles, then maybe I could extend that feeling to this bigger test Hashem sent my way.
When that second nisayon hit, I found myself saying, Thank You, Hashem. I am so lucky that this is my nisayon, and I know that whatever is meant to be, is from You.
Every test we face can be viewed through this lens. We may not feel it at first, but if we regularly ask ourselves, How does Hashem want me to react in this situation? Each challenge in life can train us to become our best selves. Not only do we have to thank Hashem for not giving us a certain nisayon, but we also must thank Hashem for the tests He does give us.
Not all tests are equally difficult, and similarly, some boundaries are stronger than others.
If something is treif, it is not even a question whether or not it would be served in a kosher home. Kashrut is objective; there is no room for rationalization. However, I certainly have other mitzvot that are grey areas.
How many times have we told ourselves, It’s not really lashon hara, it’s l’toelet! in situations where this wasn’t truly the case? The place where rationalizations dwell can be used as an indication of where our nekuda habechira, our “choice point,” is. Throughout life, we face certain challenges and struggles. The phrase nekuda habechira, refers to a moment in which we must act in an area that we struggle in. If the choice is either too easy or too hard, those matters do not fall within our “choice point.”
Hashem is using this to show us where we need to grow, and also where we have the most potential for growth. We don’t have to judge ourselves for this struggle; rather, use that opportunity to recognize that Hashem is showing us what we need to strengthen.
A great question when dealing with our grey areas is, What does Hashem want from me right now?
What bothered me most about the truffle incident was the loss of my time. With four children to care for, time is a scarce commodity for me. In fact, most people I know are lamenting that they are too busy, or wished they had more time.
Rebbetzin Henny Machlis taught a beautiful concept in her seminary. She explained, “We are all so busy doing so many things. Really, there is only one thing to do, and that’s ratzon Hashem.”
My wish for myself and others is that every time we are faced with a challenge, we can S-T-O-P. When we stop, take a deep breath, observe, and have perspective, we can learn something valuable from each test we face. From the truffle situation, the perspective I gained was gratitude for the nisayon, recognizing where my choice point lies, and the realization that there’s only one thing on my to do list—ratzon Hashem. What will your next test reveal?
 Addendum to the story: they eventually found the same dress one size up in a different store, and it was less expensive!
 Rigler, Sara Yocheved, Emunah with Love and Chicken Soup, pg.