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An Invitation To My Future Daughter In Law
by Michael Ben Zehabe
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Before we get caught up in all the formalities of ceremony, letís make bread. Letís leave the event planners and those details outside the door. Weddings are festive and necessary, but hardly inform us about the realities of partnering. Until then, letís bake bread and share our stories. We all have stories. As different as we Hebrews seem, we both share a common drama and a very significant connection.

Baking bread affords creativity, reflection, caring and yes--prayer. Why else, do you suppose, so many artisans obsess on this simple task? Itís addicting! Even shopping for the ingredients elevates our mood. Whether others realize it, or not, we have scoured the marketplace choosing only the best. Doing your best for others--doesnít that feel great?

Bring your flour, olive oil, salt, eggs, honey, yeast and water. Donít worry. This will not be work. For me, the kitchen has become my church away from church. Our kitchen is cozy and happy. We may laugh, we may cry, but at eveningís end, we will know a little Hebrew and care a little more about each other. I promise.

Letís talk about yeast (seor): Oddly enough, leaven is the first consideration, when baking leavened bread. Because, first, we mix leaven with water. Your water has to be the right temperature--lukewarm. It is the lukewarm attitude that ultimately corrupts young relationships. That corruption can only be arrested by intense heat from a strong flame.

Just as bakers introduce leaven, we tend to re-introduce old arguments and insults. How predictable we are. Too many people slip into lifetimes of holding their families as emotional hostages, pulling them into their psychotic episodes. We can do better than that. Let your children and their children have a safe place to love and be loved.

Letís talk about flour (soleth): Flour comes to us by way of a metaphor. It takes two millstones to grind wheat into flour--the meddler and a family member, who obliges the meddler. If we really are the ďgood wheat,Ē then we too can be caught between them. Whether your meddlers are career, peers, or luxury, donít let outsiders grind away your family. As you measure your flour, measure those who rob your family of their peace. Do what you must.

I have unintentionally defrauded myself with this ingredient for life. Absence of occupation is not necessarily rest. When there is no sound of the millstone, that can signal a season of atrophy. I have learned that personal growth must continue, even when we are without oppressors. Have you ever mistaken quiet for peace?

Letís talk about salt (mehlak): Paul spoke from the heart when he encouraged us, ďLet your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.Ē You have every right to hold me to that standard also. My conduct and speech should always be in good taste, considerate, wholesome and honor your god given authority in my sonís household.

I have personally struggled with this ingredient for life. There were times I should have been more discreet. In Israel, a ďcovenant of saltĒ required enthusiastic fidelity and unswerving reliability. Have you ever felt like you failed to live up to reasonable expectations?

Letís talk about water (myam): God gave Israel land with water and promised to bless our water supply as long as we obeyed Him. We didnít. You are coming into a family with many failures. Water is truth. You can be honest with us. We will need your help, and of course, we will try to offer ours. Not all of our suggestions will be good ones. Sorry.

I waste away without this ingredient for life. There were times I begged for water, but I was bereft by those I counted on. Unlike those careless people, the bride of our Messiah gave the water of life freely. You remind me of the Messiahís bride. Is that because you too have thirsted?

Letís talk about honey (devash): Honey in Hebrew is, devash. An extraordinary Hebrew woman was, Deborah (or bee, in Hebrew). Her name was derived from the same root word as, honey. So, it was no surprise that her personality paralleled the beeís. Another industrious woman of the Bible was Ruth. Ruthís story teaches us how persistent she was in building her home. Her descendants became known as, ďthe house of David.Ē You also have great possibilities, but they come with struggles.

I was also afflicted by this ingredient for life. I have known poverty in my lifetime. I learned to be content in humble circumstances. Little bees build their sweet homes in some bitter places, including trees, rocks and even the carcass of Samsonís lion. Have you ever felt like a delicate visitor in a fierce land?

Letís talk about kneading (loosh): Kneading will come after your dough has been mixed. Kneading resembles all the struggles, tangles and unexpected turns that pull your family in different directions. After kneading, comes the time when you must allow the raw dough to rest. There will be times when you too will watch, helplessly, as your family writhes in pain from sour motives and bad intentions. Only after this well timed ďwaiting,Ē can the raw dough be properly shaped. Sometimes people need distance.

I have borne the agony of this ingredient for life. There were times I paced, prayed and begged for some kind of divine intervention. People I loved were falling away and there was nothing I could do. Family issues defeat and mock me. Have you ever felt like that?

Letís talk about oil (shemen): You must lightly oil your loaf to prevent sticking to surfaces. The green olive, just beginning to change color, produces the finest quality. Baskets of these green olives are beaten until bruised. Only then are they pressed for their precious oil. Sort of like us. It is encouraging to know that our youthful sufferings produce something of great value. Our bruises are ďpotential,Ē in the making. Only this kind of oil was deemed worthy to light the holy house of God. What hard won wisdom will illuminate your home?

I have personally suffered with this ingredient for life. I too have been bruised and crushed. The kings and priests of Israel were anointed with oil. Church elders have prayed for and anointed their sick with oil. Not me. No one anointed me. Have you ever felt like that?

Now after your ingredients have been kneaded and rested, it is finally time to shape your loaf. After shaping, we will brush the loaf with egg batter. The Messiahís parable of a son asking his father for an egg indicates that the egg held some inherent value to Israelites.

Letís talk about eggs (baytsaw): Eggs will turn the loaf a beautiful golden brown. The rich color entices the eyes to partake. Ultimately, thatís what healthy families must do--partake. There can be no arm folding in family life. Standing on the sidelines is the kiss of death.

I longed for this ingredient of life. The egg is also an icon of future generations. I didnít know if I would marry. I didnít know if I would have children. I didnít know if I would have a daughter-in-law. It has been a long road and I am very thankful to be here. Have you ever felt like that?

Letís talk about baking (awfaw): We will need a strong flame. It is a strange coincidence that the Hebrew word for fire (aysh) has the same phonetics as the Hebrew word for husband (aish). Fire can destroy a city, or bake the bricks to build it. The same fire that heats your home can burn it down. Maybe that does describe husbands. They possess the capacity for good and bad. I suspect that when a husbandís qualities are guided by godly principles, they can be quite beneficial--indispensible.

None of us will suffer anything unknown to humanity. Even when I am forgotten, I refuse to respond in some spiteful fashion. That would be petty. How would that advance our family? The great ones rise above such indignities. So, I leave those complaints at the bread board.

Ultimately, all families are like leavened bread. Bread symbolizes life itself, to a Hebrew. If you make ďbread bakingĒ your special meditation and incorporate your familyís current needs, then the smell of fresh bread will bespeak a house that is right with God. Your family will smell the bread, but visualize the ritual.

If all marriages were one miracle after another (the miraculous parting of seas, the miraculous manna, or the miraculous decimation of enemies), there would be no divorce. But real life is painfully mundane and divorce is a sad reality that reverberates for generations. As you suspected, Iím not much of a bread eater. Rather, baking bread is an elegant drama that must be told and re-told, reminding families how to live sensational lives after the wedding. Please accept my hospitality. Letís bake bread.

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