Bzzz. Moo. A Recipe for Growth

A friend of mine recently celebrated the long-awaited arrival of his first child and almost overnight he became a different man.  He drove his car a bit more cautiously.  His facial expression looked a little more mature.  His approach to work seemed more focused.  While lovingly cradling his infant, he said to me, “Rabbi, I can’t believe what I created!”

I pretended not to hear him and cupping a hand about my ear, I asked, “What was that I heard?”  He repeated what he had just told me. “No, no,” I said.  “I heard you all right but I had to listen a bit more carefully to hear your son.”

“My son?” he asked, looking baffled.  “Yes, your son just said exactly the same thing.  He moved a tiny finger to point at you and he murmured, ‘Rabbi, I can’t believe what I created.’ “

I continued, “Yes, I think it true that more than a man creates a child, it is the child who creates a father.”

There are many life transforming experiences. Many have the potential to transform us into our higher selves while, of course, there are those experiences which will transform us into lesser beings.  Then there are experiences, like watching cat videos on the Internet, which do nothing at all.

An experience that changes me in a negative way is certainly far from ideal, but it is probably superior to the experience that has zero impact on me at all.  Moving in the wrong direction can stimulate us to make necessary course changes in our life, while stagnation quickly becomes a habit.  Best of all, of course, are experiences that I can use to make me a bigger, better, perhaps wiser person than I was before.

Think of the language most often used to describe the Promised Land.  Here is the first time Scripture describes Israel as “a land flowing with milk and honey.”

I have descended to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and
to bring them up from that land, to a good and spacious land,
to a land flowing with milk and honey…
(Exodus 3:8)

Here is the last instance:

And You brought Your people Israel forth out of the land of Egypt…
And You gave them this land which You swore to their fathers
to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey.
(Jeremiah 32:21-22)

On eighteen separate occasions, the Bible uses this distinctive phrase, a land flowing with milk and honey.  You’d have thought that God could also have described Israel as a ‘land of mountains and valleys’ or a ‘land of rivers and streams’ or even as a ‘land of falafel and hummus.’  But no, time and again, it is a land of milk and honey.

Ancient Jewish wisdom identifies the special common characteristic of both milk and honey.  Milk is a liquid that comes from an animal that needs much preparation to be kosher.  It must be slaughtered in a ritually acceptable manner.  Its blood must be entirely removed.  Yet, even with all these restrictions upon the producing creature, the milk it produces is permitted immediately.

The bee, an unkosher insect, may never be eaten, yet the honey produced by this creature is permitted.  Milk and honey are the two best examples of acceptable and wonderfully delectable products that we can immediately pop into our mouths and enjoy.   Yet their sources are problematic. The bee is always forbidden, and the cow is permitted as kosher only after extensive and time consuming preparation.

God gives His people a land flowing with milk and honey which means a land filled with transformative potential.  A place where even those of us with problems; seemingly insoluble problems like a bee, or complications like a cow, are nonetheless capable of producing milk and honey.

Whether or not we can literally live in the Promised Land, we can all aim for its benefits. These include realizing that our imperfections do not prevent us from producing milk and honey.  Regardless of where we are in life, we can seek out transformative experiences that propel us forward into creating more than we ever imagined.  My friend thought he and his wife had a baby.  In fact he was experiencing the opportunity to transform into a father.

24 thoughts on “Bzzz. Moo. A Recipe for Growth”

  1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

    Dear Anafo
    Thank you. Hearing that you were uplifted encourages me greatly to bring you more ancient Jewish wisdom.

  2. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

    Dear Lynne–
    How wonderful to hear from you. Love your book reviews! Thanks so much for your kind words. Churchill spoke of the similarity between the feelings an author has for his book and a parent for his child.
    Warmest wishes,

  3. Thank you for teaching us it is my first tjme and i would like to be taught by Rabbi Daiel Lapin to know and change my life and to be more in the winning ways rather than to struggle. Help me as i would also like to know Hebrew words . At the moment i am unemployed with two sons and three girls . Your advice is more educative and i would like to tap into that advice and information to put it in practice. Help me please . I am from Namibia a small country in Africa. Shalom Desmond

    1. Dear Desmond–
      I have been in Namibia while it was known as South West Africa–you have a tough road ahead but I think you can make it. First of all, before you study Hebrew, focus on generating revenue; cash flow is crucial. I don’t know if that means working 24/7 on trying to find a job or maybe it means starting up something yourself, but that is number 1 priority.

      1. So beautiful to read. Rabbi you have such a gift to create as well. Tears in my eyes when I read this thought tool. And this young man sounds just like my stepson, who changed overnight when he had a daughter (with his wife). His baby daughter created a new man….

        Love you


  4. Doland Bourgeois

    Thanks Rabbi.

    So true! I was totally changes by my children.

    I also believe that Israel will be changed by its people (peace).

    And from that and only after that, I believe that the world will be changed be Israel (and what it represents).

    1. Excellent dvar Torah, Rabbi.

      I would only add that I thought the honey talked about in praising the Land of Israel is date honey (honey from dates), not bee honey. Undoubtedly, there are bees making honey in the Land of Israel but I thought the honey generally talked about in the Five Books of Moses is date honey.
      Perhaps I’m wrong.

      1. Dear James–
        When mentioned in the context of the seven species of holy agricultural products, it does refer to vegetable honey, as from dates. However, the basic pshat of the word as we see in the gemarah Nedarim and in the Sifri, is regular bee honey as Jacob sent with his sons to Joseph.

  5. This definitely deserves to be read and re-read.

    Is there a star, favorite or thumbs-up button I can push somewhere?

  6. Thank you for the wisdom Rabbi, & confirmation in no matter how “non-kosher”our life experiences appear…Good can still flow from it benefiting all who’ll partake. ❤
    May Abba Bless you & your family this 2017/5777 beyond anything you can imagine.

    1. No problem Vicki
      thanks for reading and for writing. I happily answer to “Latin”, “Lapin”, “Lapkin”, “Lopin” and many other variations.

  7. Only you could take a bee & a cow & turn it into an inspiring lesson to start my day !
    Now I am wondering what type of milk & honey opportunities are going to come my way in 2017!

    1. Thank you so much Jeff–
      it’s wonderful to hear from you and I hope to work out a way to see you again soon also

  8. Blessed Assurance

    Hello Rabbi Lapin I like the way you break things down I saw a rainbow after you explained what the colors represented when I seen it tears came to my eyes just thinking about the love of the Father that rainbow was for me it wasn’t just light the colors were defined I clearly saw every color.

    1. Thank you Craig–
      And for me, having such high quality disciples stimulates me to deliver my best

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