Rav Shimon Schwab, ZT”L described a visit he had merited with the Chofetz Chaim. At the time of the visit, the Chofetz Chaim kept posing challenging questions, leading Rav Schwab to make some life-altering decisions. One of the questions posed was as follows:
We know the Manna tasted like whatever the person eating it thought about. If the thought was of double-scoop pistachio ice cream, the manna tasted like that cooling dessert. If the thought was of a juicy medium-rare steak, the manna tasted succulent and meaty. What, however, was the taste of the manna, if the person eating it had no thought in mind whatsoever?
That was the question the Chofetz Chaim posed to the young Rav Schwab. After not getting a response, the Chofetz Chaim answered his own question with these words, “Az Men Tracht Nisht, Hut Is Nisht Kayn Ta’Am – If one does not think, there is no taste!”
Mitzvos have a beautiful Ta’am, a delicious oomph and flavor. But that takes Kavannah, concentration, and knowing what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
We have to put thought into what we do. No mindless Judaism. Think. Know. Focus. Taste the Ta’am.
Now what happens if someone, unfortunately, can’t taste. There’s something wrong with his taste buds or with his sinuses. What if you’re the doctor and are treating such a patient? Would you tell your poor tasteless patient not to eat because he can’t taste things? Probably not. You’re more likely to tell him to keep on eating nutritious foods. You might try curing his sinus infection or healing his taste buds so he can get the enjoyment out of his food once again. Yet, even when he can’t taste food, he must eat or starve.
Many within our generation, myself included, have severely infected ourselves with materialism, lust, jealousy, laziness, ignorance, to the point we cannot always taste the sweetness of the Mitzvos. Occasionally I find myself feeling the sweetness. Yet, I do admit, sometimes I don’t. Does that mean we should not continue doing? Hashem forbid, no. That would mean death to our spiritual selves, and even to our physical selves in some ways. Continue doing, even when you can’t taste. Yet, know if you’re not tasting the sweetness of the Mitzvos, you have an infection somewhere in your spiritual self. Concentrate. Clean up your act. Then, and only then, will you be able to get the full enjoyment out of the Mitzvos.