The menu. It might be a minor part of the dining experience, but it has the power to set the tone for an entire evening. The quality and style of any restaurant can often be felt by holding the menu alone.

Now, what is it exactly that differentiates the Haute Cuisine menu from the fast food joint? Sometimes it's not more, but less. A quality menu will often be shorter, sometimes significantly shorter, than a lesser quality one.

Why? Because each option on the quality menu can be harder to create than several options at the fast food spot. So much so that a menu with pages and pages of options - instead of being impressive - might convey that those dozens of options are all of a lesser quality.

We all hope and pray for a life with many options. We don't want to be confined to anything except by our own choosing. Yet - paradoxically - many options in life can have the same effect on ourselves which they have on a menu, by diluting our enjoyment of any individual given pleasure in life.

Two and a half millennia ago there was a prophet in Israel named Micah (מיכה), who transcribed this very message in his book:

'Though I sit in darkness, G‑d is my light.'
כִּֽי־אֵשֵׁ֣ב בַּחֹ֔שֶׁךְ ה' א֥וֹר לִֽי
(Micah 7,8)

What does this have to do with a menu?

Take a second glance at Micah's words. He doesn't say that when times are dark, he trusts that G‑d will bring him to better times. He writes that when times are dark, his faith in our Creator turns the darkness into light. His belief in the divine spark of goodness within every challenge led him to take a second glance at every obstacle in life. He would look, think, search and persevere until he pulled the curtain off the darkness to reveal the good within.

Life can be monotonous, but it can also be magical. The Kabbalah refers to the magic in life as the power of 'Malchut', which can be accessed by doing what the Haute Cuisine restaurants do. Taking that one, single dish and maximizing it. Turning it one way, turning it another. Looking at it once, twice, thrice and yet again. Focusing on that cut of meat or pasta until you discover something new, something magical that can be created.

Micah referred to finding the good, even the magic, in outright negative situations. If magic can be found in challenges, it can certainly be discovered in simply average things or events.

This week's Torah portion begins the story of the Exodus from Egypt. Micah's words can help us discover our own personal Exoduses by transforming the boring to the magical.

What's on your menu?

Rabbi Avrohom