Photo Credit: Jewish Press

“Remember to open the can of beans before you throw it into the fire” was always the instruction before our cookouts at summer camp. The reason, of course, is that the beans will cook, their molecules will cause them to expand, the pressure in the can will rise and then the very real danger of injuries from the exploding can and the scalding hot beans.

Before allowing something to expand, it would be advisable to make sure it has the space in which to expand. Without that space, the results can be disastrous.


The Gemara in Shabbos (33b) tells us that Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai was hiding in a cave with his son Rabi Elazar for 12 years. As their existence during this period was almost entirely spiritual, they grew spiritually in ways that are, perhaps, unfathomable to us. But when they reentered the realm of the mundane, the Gemara describes an intolerance for physical and everyday pursuits. “On whomever they cast their gaze, that person would immediately come ablaze (and die).”

A heavenly voice admonished the great men and said: “If you came out to destroy the world, go back into your cave.” One year later Rabi Shimon and Rabi Elazar came out once again and this time saw the beauty of the average Jew preparing for Shabbos. “And then their minds were put at ease.”

When growth leads to destruction, derision, and discomfort, it is incomplete and, just like beans in a bonfire: dangerous. When growth has an environment and a headspace in which to expand, it will develop into more well-roundedness, respect and appreciation…and beans for all.


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Avi Ganz is the program Director of Ohr Torah Stone's Yeshivat Darkaynu. He lives with his wife and five children in Gush Etzion where he volunteers for MD"A, plays the blues on his Hohner, and reminisces fondly of his days playing tackle football with the IFL.