Divine Mistakes

The parsha of last week was Ki Teitzei. Within this one parsha there are no less than 74 of the 613 commandments. One of these commandments includes the law of shikchah – a mitzvah that can only be fulfilled by forgetting. It states that “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to take it; it shall be [left] for the stranger, the orphan, and the widow” (Deut. 24:19). So what kind of commandment is that? We have to forget in order to fulfill a mitzvah? What’s really going on here? According to Chassidic Masters, “Certain opportunities and potentials are so lofty that they cannot be accessed by the conscious self; they can only come about “by mistake.” An example of this is the mitzvah of shikchah, which can only be fulfilled by forgetting.” What we perceive as a mistake is not really a mistake at all. It’s just an action that goes beyond our typical awareness, something that comes from a deeper part of ourselves, a more divine part of ourselves. The good deed can only be done through a divine mistake. This Shabbat we made one of those mistakes. It was Friday afternoon in the Livnot kitchen. We had mixed together the ingredients for the challah dough, let it rise, braided it, and were just about ready to put it in the oven when we realized something. That container labeled “salt”? Not your run of the mill table salt. Turns out our challah had a mystery ingredient – lemon salt. It’s not poisonous (we checked) but it’s not salt either. It’s a chemical commonly used in pickling food and cleaning kitchens. Sounds tasty, right? With little time left to create a new batch we put the dough in the oven and hoped for the (5) Fast forward to Shabbat evening. The table was set, kiddush was made, and our hands were washed. Hours before we were worrying about our “innovative” challah recipe. Now the moment of truth had arrived. We said hamotzi, took a bite, and… wow! The best challah I’d ever had! Well maybe not the best. But at least top ten. That whole time we fretted over our mystery ingredient for nothing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there is a powerful lesson in this lemon salt challah. Sometimes in life we make mistakes. We forget to do something. We say the wrong thing. We replace table salt for lemon salt. And as a result, we stress out, we worry, and we doubt ourselves. But if we look at it from the perspective of last week’s parsha we would realize that these aren’t mistakes as we understand them. We aren’t actually forgetting anything. It’s really our higher conscience guiding us to opportunities we couldn’t have reached if we never made a “mistake”. We had to make mistakes to be where we are meant to be. With that being said, may we all enjoy the opportunities, places, and delicious challah that our divine, and sometimes lemon salty, mistakes bring us.

Zach Simandl Livnot Intern

Meir Paltiel
Meir Paltiel
[email protected]

Originally from Syracuse, NY, Meir received his BA in American History and Political Science from Tulane University and his MS in Resource Management from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry. He arrived in Israel in 1992, served in the Nahal Infantry Unit before moving to Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu. On Kibbutz, Meir was Assistant Manager of the... Read More