In Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:10 we read about the Omer barley offering on the second day of Pesach (Passover) which inaugurates the seven-week ‘Omer’ leading up to Shavuot with its wheat offering.
Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When you come to the Land which I am giving you, and you reap its harvest, you shall bring to the kohen an omer of the beginning of your reaping.
According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Kabbalah teaches that every person has two souls; one animal (our physical needs) and one Godly ( ‘our transcendent drives.’) The animal soul contends with self-preservation but the Godly soul engages with meaning and spirituality and it is that part of our being that differentiate us from animal and define us as human. Both elements are integral to our beings.
Even as we stimulate the divine in us to rise above the merely animal, we must also develop and refine our animal selves, learning to cultivate the constructive aspects of selfhood (e.g., self-confidence, courage, perseverance) while weeding out the selfish and the profane.
Wheat in the Torah is a staple of human diet while barley is associated with animal food. (Psalms 104:15 and I Kings 5:8, Talmud, Sotah 14a). Wheat is therefore symbolic of our Godly nature while barley is indicative of our animal soul – both necessary components in our earthly mission. The seven-week Omer period raises us from Egyptian exile with our barley/animal oriented soul up to the giving of the Torah, symbolized by the wheat offering. This week’s recipe is a delicious slow-cooker barley soup. It’s going to need a good ten hours on low or less on high. It would make an excellent Friday night soup, especially if you’re in the Great White North where winter is just not letting go. This photo isn’t great, but I have to tell you that this is a fabulous soup.
Beef and Barley Soup for the Slow Cooker
- 1-2 lbs beef chuck (I used meat scissors to cut it up)
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 large chopped carrots
- 1/2 red pepper, cubed
- 4 mushrooms, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 tomatoes, chopped (or a can stewed tomatoes)
- 1/2 cup corn niblets
- 1/2 – 1 cup fresh green beans, cut
- 2/3 cup barley
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 cups water
Chop vegetables and place meat on top. Wait. Eat. Enjoy.
B’tayavon and Shabbat Shalom