Monthly Archives: July 2012

Tisha B’Av 5772

Watch this dreamy, beautiful video called ‘The Children are Ready,’ produced by the Temple Institute. It’s short (90 seconds) and combines great production values with a message of hope. The children are ready, but man, this entire world is in need of Mashiach– really soon.

(Devarim 3:22)

אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים וִירִשְׁתֶּם אֶת הָאָרֶץ הַטּוֹבָה הַזֹּאת

…and you will possess this good land.


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Parshat Devarim – July 28, 2012

I want to quote something really beautiful that Rabbi Daniel Korobkin spoke about a few weeks ago when he talked about Moshe Rabbeinu’s punishment. Moshe wasn’t allowed into the land of Israel for the act of striking the rock (Bamidbar  20:11) for water. Rabbi Korobkin explained that this punishment actually resulted in a tremendous outcome for Moshe and for the Jewish people. What was this result?

Deuteronomy – Sefer Devarim.

If Moshe would have entered Eretz Yisrael with his people he would not have felt a pressing need to send them off with an inspirational charge that reviewed the Torah through his teaching. That’s a fifth of the Torah! All as a result of what must have felt at the time as a calamitous decree for Moshe.

In honour of their journey toward Eretz Yisrael I decided to do another olive recipe.

Olive Spread with Pine Nuts

Olive Spread

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 -2 cup fresh parsley and/or basil
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup pitted green olives
  • 1.3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper


  • In food process, process garlic, fresh herbs, and olive oil.
  • Here’s the tricky part. If you don’t want to end up with a creamy consistency (which I got and wasn’t thrilled about – also it was too bright green) than add the olive, pine nuts, and peppers and pulse the food processor until coarsely chopped.
  • Delicious on Challah or crackers.


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Parshat Matot-Massei

This week’s Parsha includes a continuation of the saga of the daughters of Tzelafchad. Their situation is significant to all Israelites because it leads to a discussion about the general laws of inheritance. In fact Chazal repeatedly refer to this episode as “Parshat Nachalot” (the portion dealing with inheritance matters).

Having secured their father’s inheritance in the previous Parsha,  they’re now concerned about marriage. It’s important to note that the daughter’s claim occurs right after the census (26:2). Rav Elchana Samet explains that since only men were counted, and their father was dead, the daughters stood to lose their father’s inheritance in the land of Israel. Because the tribal borders were to be based on this census.

They married within the shevet of Menashe but future generations of women who inherited land were allowed to marry ‘out’ of their tribe. In this generation only they had to marry within their tribe so that Menashe’s property wasn’t diminished.

I wanted to do a recipe that was connected to Shevet Menashe. I thought of the B’nei Menashe, a small group of people in North-Eastern India who believe that they are descendants of Menashe and are part of the ten lost tribes. They’ve been practicing Judaism for over 27  years and many have them moved to Israel. They are situated close to Myanmar – Burma. I’m assuming that there is a similar cuisine because of the close geographic proximity. Here’s a Burmese recipe for Beef Potato Curry. I think that next time I cook this recipe I’ll substitute cauliflower for the potato.

Beef and Potato Curry: a recipe from Burma

Beef Potato Curry from Burma

  • 1 lb beef, cut into strips or cubes
  • 5 potatoes, cubed
  • 2 onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons, chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt
  • 2 cups water

Put the garlic, ginger, turmeric, onion, and chili powder into food processor and process until it’s a paste. Heat oil in a sauce pan and add the paste. Cook for 5-10 minutes, adding water if it starts to dry out or burn. Add cumin and continue cooking until golden brown. Add meat until browned. Season with salt and add water and potatoes. Cover pan and continue cooking until the potatoes are soft.

Chazak chazak V’Nitchazek.




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Parshat Pinchas – July 7, 2012

In Numbers 27:1-11 the five daughters of  Tzelaphchad – Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah – approach Moshe, Eleazar, and the other leadership of the Israelites. Their father has died and although they are daughters, they wish to inherit their father’s inheritance. Moshe consults with God who tells him that the daughters ‘speak justly’ and their father’s inheritance should indeed be transferred to them.

Rabbi Benjamin Yudin discusses the contrasting opinions of two commentators. The Yalkut Shimoni states that this incident took place in the second year of the desert, immediately following the sin of the spies. Another opinion holds that it took place in the 40th year following the death of Aaron the Kohen. According to Rabbi Yudin:

Following Aharon’s demise, they [Israelites] started traveling in the opposite direction, away from Israel back towards Egypt… what is most exemplary on the part of these five righteous women is that at a time when the popular tide and trend of the nation was “let us appoint a leader and let us return to Egypt” (Bamidbar 14:4) they requested an inheritance in the Land of Israel. 

The Yalkut derives a most important principle from the above: one who lives in a society that is practicing evil, but has the integrity and commitment to buck the system and do what is right, not only receives his due reward, but also all the potential reward and blessings that could have been accrued by the generation. Thus the daughters of Tzlofchad not only received their reward for their love of the Land and pining, but received the reward that was potentially awaiting the rest of the generation.

The women’s request for their father’s inheritance leads to a series of guidelines from God to Moshe on this issue. The story of these righteous women is truly an inspiring story.

This week’s recipe simply had to honour the five daughters of Tzlaphchad.

I decided to look for a recipe that combined women and Israel. “How to Cook in Palestine” written in 1936 is considered the first Israeli cookbook. Unfortunately it’s out of print. But I did find something fantastic, written by Lady Judith Cohen Montefiore in 1846 called The Jewish Manual: or Practical Information in Jewish Modern Cookery, with a Collection of Valuable Recipes and Hints Relating to the Toilette, edited by a Lady. The best part of this book is that it’s available digitally for free through Project Gutenberg.

Sir Moses Montefiore was an outstanding Jewish philanthropist who became Torah-observant after his first visit to Eretz Yisrael in 1827 and even traveled with his own personal Shochet. (ritual slaughterer)

I’m a bit of an afficionado for historical ‘ladies’ magazines. I love Good Housekeeping from the 1940’s “Oh my, how will I ever become a bride living with the pain of halitosis!”  Lady Montefiore’s cookbook is fascinating even though it’s completely impractical.

Here’s an example:


Beat together five eggs and half a pound of white sugar, then add six ounces of flour well dried and sifted, a little lemon-juice and grated lemon-peel; bake in a moderate oven.

See what I mean?

  • ingredients aren’t really measured
  •  ingredients are limited (butter, milk, almonds, flour, basic veggies) and sometimes…strange
  • No oven temperatures: just put things ‘on the fire’
  • The entire animal is used ‘take the head of a calf’
  • Pheasants, pigeons, partridges, venison, galore!
  • butter, butter, and more butter!

There’s a recipe for apple sauce for goose in which she says, ‘the acid of the apples is reckoned a corrective to the richness of the goose.

Okay, that’s just plain yuck. 
Here’s an example:


Beat together five eggs and half a pound of white sugar, then add six ounces of flour well dried and sifted, a little lemon-juice and grated lemon-peel; bake in a moderate oven.

The beauty trips are great too. (how to remove a tan – let’s just say that it involves lots of cucumber, you can also learn how to remove freckles, etc.)

Here’s this week’s recipe taken straight from 1846! (I used bar-b-q turkey and beef)

Cut up the white parts of a cold fowl, and mix it with mustard and cress, and a lettuce chopped finely, and pour over a fine salad mixture, composed of equal quantities of vinegar and the finest salad oil, salt, mustard, and the yolks of hard boiled eggs, and the yolk of one raw egg, mixed smoothly together; a little tarragon vinegar is then added, and the mixture is poured over the salad; the whites of the eggs are mixed, and serve to garnish the dish, arranged in small heaps alternately with heaps of grated smoked beef; two or three hard boiled eggs are cut up with the chicken in small pieces and mixed with the salad; this is a delicate and refreshing entrée; the appearance of this salad may be varied by piling the fowl in the centre of the dish, then pour over the salad mixture, and make a wall of any dressed salad, laying the whites of the eggs (after the yolks have been removed for the mixture), cut in rings on the top like a chain.

B’Tayavon and have a great Shabbos!

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Parshat Balak – July 7, 2012

This week’s Parsha recounts an unusual interaction between a non-Israelite prophet and his donkey.

Balak, the Moabite king  summons the prophet Balaam to curse the Jewish people after he’s seen what they’re done to the Amorites. Balaam saddles his she-donkey and travels with the Moabite officers. Rashi explains that Balaam was a conceited and hateful man who did not wish any good on the Jewish people. God is angered by Balaam’s evil mission so He sends a sword-wielding angel three time to obstruct their path. The angel is only visible to the donkey and every time she sees him she refuses to continue. After Balaam beats the helpless donkey all three times the donkey speaks to Balaam:

Bamidbar 22:28-30 The Lord opened the mouth of the she-donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have struck me these three times?…Am I not your she-donkey on which you have ridden since you first started until now?”

God  finally reveals the angel to Balaam. The angel  asks Balaam why he beat his donkey. He tells Balaam that he was sent to thwart their path.

The idea of a donkey as a vehicle of prophecy is truly baffling. It is a completely treif (non-kosher) animal, bearing both signs of ritual impurity. (non-ruminant and no split hooves) The Maharal of Prague wrote that the Hebrew word for donkey “Chamor” is related to “Chomer” – material. To him the donkey symbolized physicality over spirituality.

And yet…

The Mitzvah to redeem the first-born male applies to kosher animals and…the donkey! (Exodus 13:13) Rav Kook discusses the significance of the donkey. First, donkeys transported silver and gold from Egypt. According to Chazal, just as the Israelites were indistinguishable from idol-worshippers…on the outside…the donkey’s true significance lies beneath its physical characteristics. Second, Moshiach is described in Zechariah (9:9) as arriving as a “pauper riding on a donkey.”

This prophecy contradicts another one in Daniel where the Messianic king arrives “with the clouds of the heaven” (7:13). So what is it? Heavenly clouds or the lowly donkey? The answer lies in the level of spiritual merit of the Jewish people. A high spiritual level brings a miraculous redemption. But an ‘undeserved’ redemption in the final hour will come through natural means.

According to Rav Kook:

The Messiah’s donkey represents the period of Ikveta deMashicha, the generation when the ‘footsteps’ (ikvot) of redemption are first heard. The Talmud (Sotah 49b) describes this era as one of terrible spiritual decline, replete with brazenness and immorality, falsehood and corrupt government. But the Zoharteaches that, despites its external faults, the generation will be “good on the inside.” This inner goodness is reflected in the special souls of the pre-messianic era; despite the heavy darkness clouding their behavior and beliefs, they are blessed with an innate segulahholiness, as expressed by their great love for the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

Rav Yosef  said, “Let the Messiah come, and may I merit to sit in the shadow of his donkey’s dung”  (Sanhedrin 98b) Even the darkest period of Jewish history will contain the spiritual seeds of light and even the most coarse of matter is a vehicle for redemption.

On a personal note, I have to say that donkeys are awesome.  They are gentle and affectionate and have fabulous ears.

Did you know that you can get a miniature donkey for as little as $500? They are friendly and lovable – and adore attention. Plus, (and this is simply fantastic – especially if like me – you love getting good value for your dollar) you can get a full membership in the Donkey and Mule Society for only $27 a year.

The First Mainland Donkey and Mule Club has a page of yummy treats. Given the ingredients  (oats, carrots) I have no idea if these recipes are meant for human or donkey consumption. If anyone out there wants to give it a try, let me know what you think.

To my Significant Other, I say this: You have always resisted pets. If I can’t get a dog, at the very least can I get a donkey?

Anyhow, the Spanish word for donkey is ‘burro.’

A burrito is a ‘little donkey.’

This week’s recipe is vegetarian burritos.

Burrito: Spanish for ‘little donkey.’
Numbers 22:23: The she-donkey saw the angel of the Lord stationed on the road with his sword drawn in his hand; so the she-donkey turned aside from the road and went into a field.

(Adapted from my dear friend Sarah Zinman’s recipe. Thanks Sarah! This recipe looks deceptively simple but the taste is delicious.)

Sarah’s Vegetarian Black Bean Burritos

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 6 – 10 stalks of celery (more or less, depending on your taste)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • soy sauce (to taste)
  • 2 cups grated cheese
  • avocado
  • flour wraps
  1. Saute onions and garlic until translucent. Add celery and continue frying until the celery is soft. Pour in black beans. Add soy sauce, to taste.
  2. Lay out wrap/tortilla and place a few tablespoons of black bean mixture at the bottom. Sprinkle on a few handfuls of cheese and some avocado.
  3. Roll up, tucking in ends.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
B’Tayavon and have a great Shabbos!


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