This Friday morning, I had a real-life competing values choice to make. I was making challah when I noticed a blood spot in one of the two eggs I was checking. Automatically, I made a move to throw the eggs away. And at the last split second, I stopped. What a waste that would be! We are not supposed to throw food away willy nilly! How likely was it that the blood spot actually arose from an egg that somehow had gotten fertilized, given that these were not free-range eggs (which is a separate problem, but not the subject of this post)?
I decided that the rational – the right – decision would be to put the eggs in the challah.
But I couldn’t do it. Either because I felt the pull of tradition or because I do not see myself as learned enough or authorized enough to make that choice. That and the fact that I am not feeling angry enough or rebellious enough nowadays to grab the authority for myself and do it anyway.
So, after standing there, staring at the eggs for about a minute, I threw them away. And then, unexpectedly, I felt great. Maybe not exalted, but almost. I had just committed an act of submission (to God? A greater purpose?) that went against the rational. Wow! I consciously did something ridiculous – and let’s face it, the idea that maybe this egg was laid by a chicken who, though raised in a tiny wire cage its whole life, had somehow gotten access to a marauding rooster such that the egg was fertilized, was, in fact, ridiculous. To throw this good food away on the basis of this extremely dubious premise was ridiculous. Not to mention the ridiculousness of the whole “I-won’t-eat-eggs-with-certain-bloodspots-in-them-because-God-said-so” thing in the first place.
So why the almost-exaltation? Precisely because of the ridiculous aspect of the situation. How quotidian to always be rational! How dull! It is not the rational that spices life. It is not reason that has kept the Jewish people alive over thousands of tortured years; it is our willingness to look at reason in the eye and make a different choice. To separate because of a drop of blood. To get out of the car and walk because the sun has set. To drive on roads under threat of stoning and shooting. To die rather than bow down.
Reasonable choices would have led to our disappearance a long time ago. My throwing those eggs away was a small act in the tremendous list of beautiful, crazy choices that Jews have made over the last 40 or so centuries – acts that have kept us and our message to the world alive.
What is the Halachah regarding blood-spots found in eggs? by Rabbi Brun-Kestler
In the past, most eggs came from fertile hens, whose increased hormone levels stimulated more egg production. Of course, fertilized eggs will also, in the right conditions, grow into chickens.