By Larry Lennhoff
For years before I began my journey I was a non-observant bachelor living in Boston. One of my hobbies was eating out. I didn’t like to cook, and had no relatives or other people with whom to share meals, so I ate out a LOT. My definition of dining in (which I rarely did) was to get to-go food from some restaurant and bring it home.
20 years of this and you build up quite a repertoire of restaurants. There were literally dozens of restaurants where I could go and recognize and be recognized by the wait staff. If my friends wanted to know where to go for Mongolian-Thai fusion cooking, I was recognized as the authority. If you asked me for directions, you were likely to get a response in the form ‘Go down Cambridge street until a block past Colleen’s, then turn left at the Pu Pu Hot Pot and continue until you reach the light with the J.P. Lick’s on the corner….
This continued to a lessened extent even when after I met my wife. We soon started becoming more observant. One place she stayed well ahead of me was keeping kosher outside the home. I wasn’t sure I could ever give it up completely. Lose the ever growing, ever shifting panoply of exotic foreign foods for metro Boston’s meager selection of half a dozen kosher restaurants? With the majority those located 45 minutes away by car?
Finally a day came when I unexpected had to make the plunge. No last grand farewell tour, no lingering over a final selection of my favorite dishes, not even a chance to order my one-of-a-kind specialty sandwich from Flossie at the local Friendly’s. I was instantly going full kosher outside the house, if you will excuse the expression, cold turkey. 20 years plus of investing myself in the metro Boston restaurant scene, gone in an instant.
It was easy. I was stunned – since that day I have never eaten non-kosher food at a treife restaurant. I feel pangs of nostalgia, but I’ve never even been seriously tempted to go back and try one last kung pao chi ding.
Here is the takeaway lesson I learned. How many other flaws and habits that I think are a basic part of who I am could I break if I only went out and tried? We all know Hashem gave us free will, and we all know the strength of the Yetzer Harah, but I think we sometime forget that we have a Yetzer Hatov as well. If you are just are willing to trust it and take the plunge, you too may be surprised at just how easy it is.