Rabbi’s Corner: Shabbat Shuva – Spilling Coffee From the Cup

This Shabbat, the Shabbat in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is called Shabbat Shuva – The Shabbat of Return. It is considered to be part of The 10 Days of Repentance. We’re in that space and time of introspection, reflection, prayer and study to set ourselves on the path for the New Year.

In that spirit, I offer this parable:

Spilling Coffee from the Cup
Adapted by Rabbi Paul Kipnes and Rabbi Julia Atlas Weisz
Adapted from Why did you spill the Coffee? A Great Analogy
Contributed by Ashish Bhavnani, Shared by Chandru Gidwani

A young woman was holding a cup of coffee
At the synagogue
when someone came along
and accidentally hit her arm,
making her spill the coffee everywhere.
The rabbi saw what happened,
Rushed over to make sure she was okay,
And then
Sensing an opportunity for a life lesson
“Why do you think you spilled the coffee?”
The woman answered,
“Well, of course,
Because someone bumped into me!”
The rabbi shook her head
And said,
“Not precisely.
You spilled the coffee
because the coffee was in the cup.
If tea had been in it,
you would have spilled tea.
Whatever is inside the cup
is what will come out.
when life comes along
and shakes you,
which will happen,
whatever is inside of you
will come out.
It’s easy to fake it
until you get rattled.
Said the Rabbi:
So we have to ask ourselves….
What’s inside our cups?
When life gets tough,
What spills over?
Anger, bitterness,
harsh words and actions?
Joy, gratefulness,
peace and humility?
With what will we fill ourselves,
When it sometimes feels like
our cups are being drained?
The choice is yours!

In these Yamim Noraim,
These High Holy Days,
May we work diligently and intentionally
Toward filling our cups
with gratitude and forgiveness,
With joy and gentleness,
With words of affirmation for ourselves and others
So that this year,
Will truly be
shana tova – a good year, a sweet year, a year filled with all the worthy blessings of our hearts.

Shabbat Shalom, G’mar Chatima Tova – Have a meaningful fast.

Rabbi Sharon L. Sobel
Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Sholom

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