I don’t know how about you, but for years I have been reading about sabra, both the fruit and the kind of people that resemble the fruit. The first time I came across that term was when I was reading Leon Uris’ “Exodus”. Without further questioning I admit I read this book probably three or more times (read: more) and there it was that I learned that there is a cactus fruit called sabra and there is a kind of people living in Israel, also called ‘sabra’.
Finally without appearing ignorant I more or less found out how the fruit is supposed to look like and while again buying today a gigantic pomegranate (and when I say gigantic, I am not exaggerating) I asked the shop assistant what was the fruit she had in front of her. Kindly she replied that that was the sabra, so without further deliberation I bought one not knowing exactly what to expect, but certainly too curious to give up. I knew that I should not pick the fruit by myself straight from the cactus, because it has a billion of tiny, prickly and irritating needles, but the fruit once picked and sold should be fine. Yes? No! Big mistake. The first time I touched it, it pricked me. I thought that, perhaps, it was just a one off situation, last living needle. I brought it home and following the shop keeper’s instructions I started cutting it. And the more I got into it and the more determined I became, the fruit pricked more and more, and more. I think that either my determination increased the pricking or vice versa, but it looked that neither I, nor the fruit was going to give up.
Finally, I got to the heart of it and, due to my nature, I looked at it first, as it looked very interesting. Like a mixture of a dragon fruit, papaya and passion fruit. Smell? Not so much to be honest. The taste? With that I have the biggest problem. Texture was certainly somewhat between a passion fruit and a dragon fruit, but the taste was something of a pear-dragon fruit-apple-kiwi(?)-something kind. It is certainly intriguing and I love it, but it made me think about many things I have read so much about this country, and my life in general.
Going back to “Exodus”, the Israelis were described as ‘sabra’, hard on the outside, soft on the inside. I politely, albeit strongly disagree. Sabra is certainly hard, but also prickly on the outside, and not so much soft, as fragmented and intriguing on the inside. It’s an interesting concept to call people, after a fruit that you should not pick, unless you are trained how, and even, if it is being sold to you in a shop, it does not give you a guarantee that while you are enjoying it you will not suffer. Isn’t that similar of that Judaism is teaching? That even in every pleasure there is some suffering?
I mean, after all attempts to bite the life you want, you please G-d end up getting it, in a less rough form (after all we could not probably handle the picking of the fruit, even though I certainly once tried that in my life and, figuratively speaking, my hands hurt for a very long time), even after following all the instructions and thinking you are doing it safe this time, you get pricked. Then it becomes a matter of choice, do I follow my dream or do I give up? The harder you squeeze the fruit, the more it pricks, as if either testing your perseverance or simply telling you to back off. Even while you are eating, you are still holding that fruit enjoying it on one end and suffering it on the other end. But I guess, if we realise that that what pricks us is not the inside of the fruit that we enjoy, but just the skin, the shell, we begin to understand why we picked up this fruit in the first place. It also shows me that it is not the fruit for faint-hearted, just as pink grapefruit is not good for impatient people (just to clarify it, I do enjoy eating pink grapefruit and I do it patiently).
I personally don’t like things I get easily. I do not enjoy them, if they are presented to me at no cost. Perhaps sabra is as much my fruit to eat and my expectations of life combined. And, if you believe what they say, that you are what you eat then, I’m sorry my darlings, if I prick you, but you will just have to try harder.