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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