The Eggplant Effect

Thursday, 30 May, 2019 - 2:23 pm


Ever heard of the Eggplant Effect?

If you will ever happen to stay in our house and listen to our conversations, you might hear me or my wife suddenly saying, “Yes, that’s the Eggplant Effect.” No, it’s not that we have invented a mysterious family code or set up a secret society; it is just something that happened to us and since then it has come to symbolize a state of affairs.

It goes like this: For years we made an eggplant and mayonnaise salad – known in America, strangely enough, as baba ghanoush – the following way: we would roast eggplants on a skillet (there are no gas ranges here) until they soften, mash them manually with a fork, add fresh crushed garlic, a touch of salt and Thomy mayonnaise, and the salad would be ready. We used to say that there is no such thing as a guest who could withstand this salad. It would always be gobbled up quickly, and when no one was looking, people would even mop up the remnants with challah.

But, things changed. Due to life’s pressures and having young children we made a few changes. At the beginning we just softened the eggplants in the oven, without roasting them; after a while we began to use a food processor to mash them, not a fork. Later on, we were often short for time and instead of fresh crushed garlic we would put in garlic powder. Well, at that point we noticed that our eggplant salad remained on the plates. People wouldn’t take much, wouldn’t eat much, and certainly wouldn’t mop up what remained. That was the moment that we understood that we had gone too far and that the rules of preparing eggplant must be abided. We looked into the matter, and very quickly returned to the original recipe: roasting, mashing, crushing. And the guests went back to mopping.

Since then, whenever we notice changes in how things are going, we know that the Eggplant Effect is at work. We immediately check to see where we have drifted away from the recipe. If you see that a certain child is behaving differently – perhaps his marks are dropping – see what has been changed in the recipe. Is it possible that once upon a time you used to put more time into learning the material with him? If people treat you differently at work, is it possible that you are being less friendly and outgoing? If your success rate has decreased, it’s a good idea to check what has changed in the process. Have you skipped something, or perhaps you are cutting corners? There is a pretty good chance that what is going on here is the Eggplant Effect.

Why was I reminded of all this today? Because today I was visited by a dear Jew who went through a long process of doing teshuva, but recently he has been investing less in his spiritual life – he comes less, claims to be too busy. We learned the first pasuk of parashat Bechukotai, which we will read this Shabbat outside of Eretz Yisrael. “If you will walk in My statutes…” I said to him: “Listen, my friend. The statutes and their details have meaning. They influence us and our way of life.” I told him about our Eggplant Effect and he understood that if he changes even the seemingly minor aspects of his behavior, it is like exchanging fresh crushed garlic with garlic powder: the result just won’t be the same.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

Comments on: The Eggplant Effect
There are no comments.