Funny Questions Our Non-Jewish Guests Ask Us

Funny Questions Our Non-Jewish Guests Ask Us

I’ve told you before that my husband and I host a lot of non-Jewish tourists (www.chefrabbijosh.com) who come to our home to eat a yummy meal and to receive answers to all their questions about Jews and Israel.
After years of hosting groups like this, I know that their first questions are usually about “those funny fur hats” and “those long…[hand motions indicating peyos].”
Then they move onto deeper questions, such as “Why are men and women separated at the Western Wall?” “What is the Jewish approach to the Messiah?” or “Is IDF service obligatory for all Israeli citizens?”
Then, sometimes, there are funny questions.
This past Sunday, for example, a woman asked, “Do you mind if I ask you? You don’t have to answer, but…I was wondering,” and she pointed up to 3 pieces of tape dangling down from the doorway of our kitchen, “What are these for?” So I had to break the news that these pieces of tape were not part of some ancient Jewish ritual, but were rather leftovers from Yaakov’s birthday-party balloons.
A few weeks ago another guest, with equal awkwardness, asked regarding a coffee table we’d moved into the kitchen, propped onto its side, to make space in the living room for extra tables: “I’m sorry, but I was wondering if this has something to do with preparing kosher meat?”
And then there are the times we don’t only teach our groups, we learn from them as well, which is most of the time.
That was the case this past Sunday, when the guide, Udi, a bare-headed Israeli, told his group members that religious Jews consistently rank as the happiest members of Israeli society.
Renowned behavioral economist (and fellow bare-headed Israeli), Duke University’s Dan Ariely explained why that is the case: Even though a religious Jew might not necessarily enjoy all aspects of religious life (i.e. fasting on Yom Kippur, not swimming during the 9 days, or cleaning before, during, and after Shabbat) he will tell researchers “I love being a Jew.” Because even though they don’t love every particular mitzvah, they love that all those mitzvot together uplift their lives, infuse them with meaning. Which, Ariely explains, is the ultimate motivator, the key to true happiness.
And the same is true, Professor Ariely observed, of mothers. If you asked a mom, on a scale of 1-10, how much she enjoys the various aspects of motherhood (i.e. the morning rush, changing diapers, dinnertime, bedtime) there’s a good chance that these daily mothering tasks would rank closer to 1 than 10.
But nonetheless, that same mother who dislikes the morning rush, diapers, dinnertime, and bedtime, will tell researchers, “But I love being a mom!” Because it is all those mothering moments (the ones she enjoys and the ones she enjoys less) that infuse her life with the ultimate motivator, the key to true happiness–meaning.

2 comments

  1. Thank you! Great insight!

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