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When Outer Appearances Count

By Chaya Nessa Krycer

There are many topics in life that inspire us, adding energy and excitement to our everyday lives. Small things, seemingly so insignificant that their tremendous impact amazes us. Of course, I am sure that you’ve already guessed what I am referring to–chocolate! 

For any of you who have never heard of this phenomenon, do not despair. Chocolate is a mixture of happiness and sunshine and baby koalas and a little bit of sugar. Oh, and cocoa beans. It contains all the essential elements: fruit (it is an established fact that cocoa beans grow on trees), vegetables (sugar grows from the ground), and protein from the milk (that is why milk chocolate is actually healthier than dark chocolate). So, when doctors advise you to have a balanced diet, they are really recommending that you increase your chocolate intake. 

In earlier days, chocolate lacked healthy starches usually found in rice, potatoes, and fresh, dry-cleaned shirts. However, many chocolate manufacturers have solved this dilemma by adding corn puffs, puffed rice, and other starches to the interior of chocolate. (We frantically await the day when dry cleaned shirts will be added to the recipe as well). 

Now I know that many of you are shocked, astounded, simply taken aback by my outlandish obsession. How dare I admit publicly that I find enjoyment in such a processed physical pleasure. Therefore, I shall now explain to you the profound meaning behind chocolate, and how many life lessons we can learn from the simple little square. 

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Firstly, there is the idea of modesty. Chocolate is never colored in brightly glowing hues. Its exterior is customarily a warm deep brown. It is only infrequently that chocolate resembles the milky white of pristine Shabbos tablecloths and office printing paper. Even the white chocolate coating is neither flamboyant nor ostentatious. It serves its purpose sedately and with refinement — to enclose the delectable goodness that hides within. If someone handed you a chocolate bar without the wrapper, undoubtedly you would have trouble identifying its interior. This is what is truly remarkable about chocolate. It is quiet and unassuming, veiling the wafer, the caramel, the peanuts, the nougat, and all the various fillings that truly make chocolate special. 

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But modesty is not the only lesson we can learn from it. Chocolate is a united team. They are automatically grouped together, and no-one (unless you’re a chocolatier) can perceive the distinct difference in their fillings. (The same should really go for dentists as well. They too should not judge people in the differences of their fillings). You may think all food is this way, but it is sadly not the case. 

Any person of average intellect who spent part of their childhood in America can easily identify multiple flavors of chips. If one chip is barbecue flavored and the other jalapeno, just the smell alone can give it away, not to mention their general appearance. This is ironic, as most chips are created from the same fundamental base – potatoes. It is just the spices that differentiate them. But not with chocolate. Chocolate understands that even though their flavors are unique, their textures distinct, they still are one entity. You never see a bar of popping chocolate showing disdain for the ordinary cream-filled variety. That is because chocolate understands that it’s base – the cocoa sugar mixture — is its primary aspect – not the filling inside. 

This outlook is so crucial to the Jewish nation. We are all diverse. Our inner filling is packed with different personality traits, upbringings, viewpoints, etc. It is so easy to say that the Ashkenaz teacher from Brooklyn with a cookie crunch interior is superior to a Sephardi doctor from LA with nougat filling. (Or vice versa. No need to start a world war in my peace and friendship article). But even though our flavorings are different, we are alike in the sense that we serve the same G-d and are part of the same nation.  We all follow the same Torah and dream of the day when Moshiach will rescue us from non-kosher brands of chocolate. (We all have our struggles and we should respect that).  So next time you unwrap a chocolate bar, before that first blissful bite, remember that if an inanimate object, created by humans, can have such achdus, so can we humans who were created by G-d, Himself

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