“May I please have the water?” my older sister asked from across the table.
I passed the heavy container of Poland Spring water across the table to her.
Honestly, though, I could never understand why she likes water so much. Water has no sugar, no taste and no color. No wonder water can (sometimes!) be obtained for free!
To me water was always something you drank during the summer when you had to because you were about to dehydrate. But both my sister and my father drink enough water to actually develop a taste and a preference for different brands. To them, each brand of water is different from all others. To me, tap water mixed with syrup is just fine.
This summer my indifference to water was challenged as I spent 3 ½ weeks in the Holy Land. There, the only thing anyone ever drinks is water. The way I saw it, there were 3 choices: Mei Eden, Ein Gedi, and traditional tap water. And if you were camping out up north, spring water from the sink became an option as well. I suppose that water backpacks are synonymous with Israel for a reason.
I was warned not to drink Israeli tap water. They told me it would be hard on my American stomach. I defied orders, though, and drank it with Petel syrup. That was during lunchtime. But mostly, I stuck to Mei Eden water, since that was what I saw in every store I shopped. I drank it on tiyullim or whenever I was outside and really thirsty, which was quite often.
On one tiyul my tour group took, we went up north and stayed overnight at a pleasant, cozy lodging. The word went around, “Fill your water bottles up from the sink; the water comes straight from the well!” I wasn’t really sure what that was supposed to mean, but it sounded like something I didn’t want to miss. If I remember correctly, I actually took their word for it and listened.
On another Sunday, we planned a trip to Ein Gedi, a trip which required an unusual amount of water in order to sufficiently hydrate our systems. In honor of this tiyul I purchased a 2 liter bottle of Ein Gedi water –
And what do you know? I tasted a difference! Ein Gedi water was actually different from Mei Eden water!
A few weeks later, upon my return to the USA, I stuck my cup under the faucet for a cool drink of water. I spat it out and discarded the cup. The water was unpalatable!
At that moment, it occurred to me: in order to develop a taste for something you’ve got to expose yourself to it. You’re not going to know the difference between one water and the next if you don’t know water. I mean, really, who ever heard of making a fuss over colorless, tasteless liquid? Who cares which colorless, tasteless fluid you buy?
Until you’ve gotten down on your hands and knees for an intense analysis, careful observation is looked down upon as senseless and boring. The difference between one halachic opinion and the next is a matter of obsession to one who doesn’t know. As long as there are Hebrew words on the package, it’s Kosher. To read the label too?! It’s all the same!
People with whom you aren’t really acquainted are easily categorized into community and type. Oh, them? – when you don’t know them, they’re all the same!
Scrutiny is an advanced level; you’ve got to have a Ph.D if you want to dissect. It’s the general picture that comes first; “nuances” come later.
So, beginning with step 1…It’s as simple as ABC!
Acquire Basic Comprehension…because if you don’t know it, you can’t love it!