In Praise of Coffee

IMG_1961-1Last Sunday was Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning and fasting for Jews.

Although always well-intentioned, my beloved husband again took it upon himself to put us on a caffeine detox plan.  This plan, run twice each year before this holiday and Yom Kippur, goes a little something like this:

  • day one: 1/2 decaf + 1/2 caffeine in the coffee maker; I notice something suspect and stop at the Shenkman Hall Dunkin Donuts on my way to the office
  • day two: 2/3 decaf + 1/3 caffeine; head pounding, anger growing, stop at 7-11 around the corner from my house so I can drink coffee on the way to work
  • day three: stupid equation of 7/8 decaf + 1/8 caffeine; anger at husband, grouch to children, potential bitterness at Jewish life and fast days and the meaning of it all!!
  • day four: husband realizes deep anger and makes a full pot of caffeinated
  • day five: I feel guilty, make full pot of decaf, repeat visit to Shenkman AND 7-11

Which brings me to 5:58am this Monday morning, the day after the fast.  I awaken and hear no children calling my name, see aforementioned husband sleeping beside me.  I feel nothing short of joy – coffee awaits me, unlimited coffee, beautiful blessed coffee that I love.  I LOVE COFFEE.  I love the act of it, the conversation around it, the feel of a hot cup in my hand.

So I tip toed downstairs and I pushed the brew button.  A few short (read: long!) minutes later, the coffee maker beeped and I held a big cup in my hand.  And I blanked…

What was the blessing for coffee, a blessing that felt so relevant at the time?  The blessing that connects to water?  The one that connects to the beans growing from the earth?  My hebrew school / camp / parent-guided education failed me and I couldn’t think of the appropriate b’racha.  Until the Hillel Director in my head chimed in and out came something like:

Hashem, Lord our G/d, Master of the Universe – I’m so freaking grateful for this cup of coffee, this cup that lifts me up and makes me whole, that gives me joy and starts my day.  I’m grateful I have the money to buy this coffee maker and replace it if it breaks.  I’m grateful my children are still asleep so I can be intentional around this cup.  I’m thankful my husband loves me so much that he wants me to have as easy a fast as possible.  I’m appreciative that I have enough self-awareness to know how moody I was with my family last week because I missed my coffee.  Thank you Hashem, for a job that lets me drink coffee all day, in the spirit of meaning making and connection.  AMEN.

How can we live more empowered and grateful Jewish lives?  And why might we be waiting for permission to bring holiness and intention into our daily routines, even if it’s not the “right” way to do it?

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