I’m going to be taking a break from writing these next few weeks, or at least give myself the permission not to. As we draw closer to the High Holidays, I am hard at work on all the details of these sacred days, as well as preparing my messages. So I will hold back from these weekly messages. I may put something on my blog, or Facebook, so you can look there as well.

But as we are in Elul, and our thoughts turn to the sacred work of teshuvah, I did want to share some words for the season. About cookies.

I do love to bake, and don’t do it often enough. My mom baked for the holidays (and other times as well) and so as we draw closer to Rosh Hashanah I begin to think of her rugelah and her “oily” apple cake which was a favorite of my grandfather’s and something that any cardiologist would poo-poo. I learned from her, and it was wonderful seeing both my boys bake with her this summer.

Baking is a bit of an exact science. Measurements need to be correct in order for the ingredients to work together and produce the cookies or cake desired. Unlike cooking in which flavors can be adjusted as you go, once the cake is in the oven if the ingredients weren’t correct you may have a flop on your hands.

There are adjustments you can make, of course. Once you have a basic dough you can mix in chocolate chips, raisins, cinnamon, etc. That is why this recent article caught my eye:

The Science Behind Baking the Most Delicious Cookie Ever

The article touches on “cookie science,” which examines the interplay of different ingredients and the resulting cookie. As you can see from the picture above, a tweak in ingredients can result in a different type of cookie. Using the Toll House Cookie recipe as a base, the author gives a brief list of desired results (chewy, firm, etc.) and the requisite adjustment to ingredients needed.

So while the base recipe is the same, a minor change in ingredient can result in a major change in result.

We remember this as we move through Elul. The idea that we turn our spiritual focus inward to examine our past deeds is daunting. The commitment we make to change our bad behaviors and adopt new ones is overwhelming.

But it need not be. Like cookies, it sometimes only takes a minor adjustment in how we are in this life to affect a major change within us.

Wishing you a meaningful Elul and a happy and sweet (extra chocolate chips?) new year.

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