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Until the 1600's coffee was scarcely known in Europe, but it was already an important part of the day in the Middle East, albeit not necessarily an early morning one. We've now reached the point where on any given day there'll be more cups of coffee in the United States than people.

Coffee's also made inroads in Jewish tradition, securing its status as a beverage which can be used for special ceremonies like Havdallah, and being one of the few foods upon which a blessing is made just for smelling it.

It's almost as if human civilization always knew something was missing but couldn't quite place it, until coffee came along and filled the void.

Like coffee's endless options, flavors and brands, we human beings are faced with endless options and choices in life. Settling on one usually hinges upon its proving its usefulness.

When it comes to Judaism, pinning down why it's so important can be challenging at first. How do I know that I really need it? Does Judaism vacuum on its own, or make my favorite pasta without me having to lift a finger? What if I'm not the believing type?

Now that's a question which would be hard to adequately address in a Friday email.

But once we were on the topic of coffee, the king of beverages might shed some insight. Like coffee, Judaism is something that should feel like it always belonged. It's something that should feel natural, even if it might not always come naturally. 

Does that mean that being Jewish should come easy and effortlessly? No. Just as with many things that are crucial - such as experiencing the joys of working hard and reaping the fruits of one's own labor, or raising a family and enjoying 'Nachas' from children and grandchildren - it takes effort, and lots of it, to reap their benefits. But ultimately it's something that should feel enjoyable and right. 

The beginning of this week's Torah portion discusses the laws of 'acquiring'. Chassidic philosophy points out that the entirety of Judaism can be described as 'acquiring', as opposed to 'creating'. 

Like coffee, it might be unfamiliar at first, an 'acquired taste' - but its value and meaning does not need to be 'created' from scratch, for it is right at the core of every Jew.

Of course there are many logical, philosophical and historical reasons in Judaism. Ultimately, it is our very core and thus should have a feeling of familiarity and enjoyment when experienced.

As the saying goes, 'good ideas start with brainstorming, great ideas start with coffee'.

Rabbi Avrohom