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.
This fish is sooooo good. It’s adapted from a recipe from Food.com.
Salt and Vinegar Potato Chip Fish
- 1 lb sole filets
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 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.
- 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.