28:21 And the stones shall be for the names of the sons of Israel twelve, corresponding to their names; [similar to] the engravings of a seal, every one according to his name shall they be, for the twelve tribes.
The Choshen of Mishpat was the ‘breastplate of justice.’ It was worn by the Kohen Gadol (high priest), and displayed twelve precious gems, each one engraved with the name of a tribe. The Choshen hung from the Eiphod suspenders where two gems were engraved. Rabbi Israel Rubin asks the question – if the Ephod includes the names of the Shevatim (tribes) than why does the Choshen have to repeat them?
The pairing of the Choshen and Ephod represent a concept highlighted by Hillel in Pirkei Avot 1:14 which points out the balance between group and individual values. “If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I?” According to Rabbi Rubin:
The tribes were listed collectively as a group on the Ephod, while on the Choshen featured them individually on separate stones. The Ephod Stones could b likened to a GROUP PHOTO while the Choshen could be likened to the individual. Judaism recognizes our individuality, each a gem in its own right, shining forth with unique sparkle, talent and style. At the same time, however, we must always tie in with our community and our common origin and heritage.
In honor of the Choshen, I’ve prepared twelve cake pops in chocolate cup holders. (Disclaimer: The colours are not arranged according to the gems of the Choshen, so if you’re a Kohen studying for potential high priesthood, you might want to find a more credible source.)
Choshen Cake Pops in Chocolate Cupcake Holders
Part 1: Chocolate Cake (any recipe will do, you can use an instant cake mix) You can also buy a ready-made frosting but they tend to be dairy. For the chocolate cake, you can use part of a cake or a whole one. I don’t have set amounts here.
Part II: Buttercream Icing
- 1/2 cup Crisco shortening or margarine (I know this is gross, but it makes the consistency work)
- 2 tablespoons soy milk or orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2-3 cups icing sugar
Beat the first three ingredients, then add the icing sugar. You want to get a doughy consistency that won’t drip off of a spoon.
Part III: Mixing the chocolate and icing
- This is easily done in a mixer. I use a Kitchen Aid but a food processor would probably work as well.
- Mix the cake until it becomes crumbly.
- Add enough icing to make it into a play-dough like texture.
- Refrigerate for fifteen minutes.
- If you have a plaster or metal ‘baller’ you can use it. Or else, just make small balls of dough and place on a waxed-paper lined cookie sheet.
- Freeze for half an hour, while you prepare the glaze.
Part IV: The glaze
- 1 teaspoon margarine
- 1 teaspoon soy milk
- 1/2 cup icing sugar (approximately)
- food colouring
Microwave the margarine and add the soy milk and icing sugar until you’ve got a creamy consistency. If it’s too thin, the effect will be watery and transparent. Too thick and it won’t spread properly.
Place the cake pops on a food rack and pour the glaze on top.
Part V: The cupcake holders
Melt chocolate chips in the microwave. Remove them after 45 seconds and stir and return to the microwave to continue cooking. When the chocolate is completely smooth, use a food brush to “paint” the inside of a paper cupcake holder. It’s best to use two cupcake holders to give it support. The Choshen had twelve gems, so paint more than twelve cupcake holders in case some of them break. Pop them in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove and carefully peel off the holders. Place the cake pops inside the shells and arrange on a square plate three across and four down.
The first Pasuk of this parsha states:
27:20 And you shall command the children of Israel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for lighting, to kindle the lamps continually.
This bridges the instructions on building the Mishkan (previous Parsha – Trumah) to details of the clothing of the people staffing it. Rabbi Pesach Winston notes that miracles and olive oil seem to always share a connection. The word for oil – Ha Shemen has the same Hebrew root as soul (Neshama) and eight (Shemona). Since the number seven is associated with the days of the week, eight is considered to be above this world, ie the supernatural, or spiritual.
Something I was wondering about – where would the Israelites have gotten olives from in the desert. I asked Rabbi Mordechai Becher and this is what he said:
The Jews a. traded with people that they encountered. b. sometimes came to places where there was some agriculture. c. Could have made an olive-press from stones in the desert fairly easily. d. Also keep in mind that they lived in Kadesh Barnea for 19 years (according to Rashi, based on Seder Olam)
This salad is inspired by a dish that was served at my niece Racheli’s wedding in J-lem.
- One cup mixed olives
- handful of grape tomatoes
- three mushrooms, sliced
- 5-10 baby dill pickles, whole or sliced in half
- one head roasted garlic (this is optional. Wrap garlic in foil and roast in oven for at least 15 min@350 or until done)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 crushed garlic cloves,
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon sugar (to taste)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning and/or rosemary
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoon mustard
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar