Monthly Archives: November 2012

Parshat Vayeitzei

At the beginning of this Parsha Yakov departs from Beersheva and travels to Haran. He spends the night on the way and has a dream in which a ladder extends from earth to heaven. Angels ascend and descend the ladder. God appears in the dream and promises that Yakov’s progeny will be a great nation.

Here’s a nice vort about these angels. According to the Sefat Emet, the ladder in the dream starts on earth and extends up to heaven. The foot of the ladder is in the physical world but rises to a totally spiritual one. In Pirkei Avot it says that worldly manners precedes Torah. The angels that rise and go down represent different angels. The ones that accompanied Yakov in Israel weren’t the same ones that traveled with him outside Israel. Angels that accompanied Yaakov in Eretz Yisrael are not the same as those outside Israel, just as Shabbat angels differ from those of weekdays. On Friday night we sing Shalom Aleichem, which refers to the changing of the angels.


Genesis 28:12 12. And he dreamed, and behold! a ladder set up on the ground and its top reached to heaven; and behold, angels of God were ascending and descending upon it.

This week’s recipe is about dreams. My mom used to make ‘dream’ squares which I thought would be a fine idea. When I looked for recipes for Yaakov’s dream I discovered a whole array of dream desserts: dream cookies, dream cups, dream bars, and dream puddings. I have no idea why. This one seemed yummy and it really is. This recipe comes straight from the Nestle’s website.

Double Chocolate Chip Dream Cookies


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz pkg) chocolate chips


PREHEAT oven to 375° F.COMBINE flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs for about 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.BAKE for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are puffed. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!

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Parshat Toldot

In this Parsha, Esau comes from the field and he is faint. Rashi says that he was faint from committing murder: כי עיפה נפשי להורגים (Jeremiah 4:31). He tells Yakov to pour him some of the red pottage because he is faint. Yakov was cooking red lentils because his grandfather Avraham had died that day. Rashi explains that Avraham’s life was shortened by five years so that שלא יראה את עשו בן בנו יוצא לתרבות רעה  — he would not have the grief of seeing his grandson falling into bad ways. But then he asks – why lentils? Rashi explains that they are round like a wheel and mourning “is like a wheel revolving in the world.” He also explains that lentils do not have a mouth or opening like other beans do. The mourner is like without a mouth as he is prohibited from speaking. That’s where the custom to feed mourner eggs comes from – they are round and have no mouth. From Mo’ed Katan (21b), it states that for the first three days of the mourning period, the person should not respond or initiate greetings. From the third to seventh days he can respond but not greet.

This week’s recipe is so obvious but how can I resist? Think of all those challenging Parshas about the Mishkan (tabernacle) that I struggled to find recipes for last year. Once in a while a recipe just calls out to you from the Chumash! So here it is…

UPDATE: Update: I tried a new lentil recipe and it’s so awesome I have to post the recipe. It’s called Egyptian Lentil Soup and I found it at I made it tonight and it’s just so delicious. Much better than the regular red lentil soup pictured below. My dh tried this tonight and said, ‘this is restaurant soup!’

Egyptian Lentil Soup

  • 5 cups vegetable broth or 5 cups water
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped potatoes
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper


  • Add the first 5 ingredients to a large pot; cover and bring to a boil.
  • Lower the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the lentils and veggies are tender.
  • Take pot from stove burner and set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, add the oil; warm over low heat until the oil is hot but not smoking.
  • Add in the cumin, turmeric, and salt; cook and stir constantly for for 2-3 minutes or until the cumin has released its fragrance (be careful not to scorch the spices).
  • Set spice mixture aside for 1 minute to cool.
  • Stir spice mixture into the lentil mixture; add cilantro, stir to combine.
  • You can puree the soup, in batches, in a blender OR you can use an immersion blender and blend to desired texture (I like to leave it a little chunky).
  • Add in lemon juice; stir to combine.
  • Rewarm soup in soup pot; season if needed with salt/pepper.

Read more at:

Genesis 25:34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and a pottage of lentils, and he ate and drank and arose and left.

Regular Red Lentil Soup

  • 2 cup dried red lentils
  • 3 zuchinni, peeled
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 2  chopped onions
  • 1 chopped potato
  • 4 chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • salt and pepper
  • water to 2″ above vegetables

Cook 40 minutes and puree.

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Parshat Chayei Sarah

This week’s Parsha offers the story of Avraham’s servant Eliyahu searching for a ‘shidduch’ for Yitzchak. Eliezer asks God for a sign that Yitzchak’s intended should display chessed by offering him to drink. As soon as Elizer arrives in Nachor, he immediately meets Rivka, whose kindness and modesty goes above and beyond his test. They return to Rivka’s house and by the next morning, the deal is sealed and he begins his journey with Rivka back to Avraham.

The story is not a long one but is told in tremendous detail – 67 p’sukim to be exact. Chazal were puzzled by the amount of space devoted to this interaction, given that the wording of the Torah is usually so economical. One of the answers is found in Breishit Rabbah 60:

The conversation of the patriarch’s servants is superior to the Torah of the descendants” 

That poses a further question though. Is the everyday conversation of the Avot actually more significant than the Torah and its law? Rav Kook answers this.

These ‘conversations’ of the Avot (patriarchs) were also a form of Torah. This Torah was more elevated than the later Torah of their descendants, as it reflected the extraordinary holiness and nobility of these spiritual giants. Rav Kook explains that the reason Chazal referred to their words as ‘conversations’ was because that’s a term that refers to natural speech. He writes that

“the Torah of the Avot was like a conversation, flowing naturally from the inner sanctity of their lives and aspirations. Holy ideals permeated the day-to-day world of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to such a degree that these ideals were manifest even in the everyday discourse of their servants.”

The Torah of their descendants, on the other hand, lacks this natural spontaneity. It is a more conscious process that’s dependent on law to control all aspects of our lives. So the words and deeds of the Avot and Imahot are like living Torah, inspirational, and beloved by Hashem.

This week’s recipe is related to Eliezer’s deed in relation to negotiating for Rivkah’s hand in marriage. It says in Genesis  24:53. And the servant took out silver articles and golden articles and garments, and he gave [them] to Rebecca, and he gave delicacies to her brother and to her mother.

This was clearly a disappointment to Lavan, Rivkah’s brother. According to Rashi these delicacies refer to sweet fruits (מְגָדִים), that Eliezer had brought with him from the Land of Israel.

Since the most well-known fruit export from Israel is the orange I’ve chosen a recipe incorporating oranges.

Genesis 24:53 And the servant took out silver articles and golden articles and garments, and he gave them to Rivka, and he gave delicacies (fruit) to her brother and to her mother.

Citrus Spinach Salad

  • spinach
  • red onion, sliced
  • sliced oranges or canned mandarins
  • handful of soy nuts


  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons Dijon salad
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix and dress salad right before serving.

B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!

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Parshat Vayeira

The famous story of Lot, Avraham’s nephew takes place in this week’s Parsha. Threatened by the evil people of Sodom, Lot tries to appease them, but it only serves to stoke their anger. This incident takes place right after Avraham welcomes the three angels to his tent and offers a stark contrast between Avraham’s hospitality and generosity to the Sodomites barbaric cruelty.

Rav Kook has a beautiful vort on the salt of Sodom. He points out the Talmud’s connecting of Sodom and the ritual to wash one’s hands at meals. Washing hands before eating is a is a D’Rabanan mitzvah “similar to partial immersion in a mikveh (ritual bath).”

Mayim Achronim (washing before bentching) however in Talmud Chulin is for the purpose of removing the salt of Sodom that can blind the eyes. Rav Kook explains that the people of Sodom had a single-minded obsession with their physical self-gratification, to the point that there was no energy left over for kindness.

There is a certain danger in any meal we eat, in the sense that the physical pleasure we attain increases the “value we assign to such activities, and decreases the importance of spiritual activities.” Washing before eating is a reminder of the Kohanim eating from the Trumah and elevates the act of eating and it imbues it with holiness. To negate the physicality of eating we ritually cleanse after the meal to wash away the salt of Sodom,

…the residue of selfish preoccupation in sensual pleasures. This dangerous salt, which can blind our eyes to the needs of others, is rendered harmless through the purifying ritual of mayim acharonim.

This week’s recipes are salt-oriented.

First is Delish Fish.

(Bereishit 19:26) And his wife looked from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

This fish is sooooo good. It’s adapted from a recipe from

Salt and Vinegar Potato Chip Fish

  • 1 lb sole filets
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • mayonnaise
  • coarsely crushed salt and vinegar potato chips


  • Arrange fish on pan. (Either line with parchment paper or spray with Pam.)
  • Spread thin layer of mayonnaise on top of each filet.
  • Cover with crushed chips, pushed into mayo.
  • Bake at 400 degrees until fish flakes with a fork.

Recipe #2: Sweet baked potatoes with basil salt.

Sweet Potatoes with Basil Salt

  • 3 sweet potatoes, cut into fry shapes
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil leaves (fresh)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  • Toss the sweet potatoes with oil and place on foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake approximately 45 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • After baking potatoes, remove from oven and toss with basil, salt and pepper.

B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos.



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