One Burger With A Side
I am a 50-something-year-old ba’alas teshuvah, and Rabbi Hoffman’s article “The Case of the Treif Hamburger” (December 5, page 104) really hit home for me. About 39 years ago, I went on a weeklong trip with an Orthodox group of people and experienced my first real Shabbos. I was hooked and decided that I was going to change my life and try to be frum.
After the retreat, we traveled towards New York City, and I got off the bus to meet up with my parents. We immediately went out for dinner, and I obediently (read unthinkingly) went to the nearest bathroom, where I washed my hands. Then I said “Al netilas yadayim,” made HaMotzi on my hamburger, ate, and bentched. I’m not sure how long afterwards it dawned on me that the hamburger was treif, and although I have told that story to my family and friends, I’ve always been a bit embarrassed at my naiveté, however well-meaning my intentions were.
Thank you for that article with the explanation of how, possibly, there was some rationale for that anonymous Manhattan accountant to bentch on his hamburger; I feel a little less sheepish remembering my young self in the 1970s. I’ve come a long way; it’s shocking that I was able to muster courage from some deep place within me—probably as a result of unknown z’chuyos of my ancestors—to return to our beautiful Torah heritage.
Thank you for not cutting down that former yeshiva student, but for finding the good in his intention, his desire for a connection with Hashem. I hope your article finds its way to him and that your constructive suggestions will ignite within him a desire to taste divinely inspired morsels of Torah and kosher food, served up with a huge amount of acceptance and love.