Monthly Archives: May 2013

Parshat Shelach

In Bamidbar 15:38-39 God says to Moshe:

“Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them that they shall make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations, and they shall affix a thread of sky blue [wool] on the fringe of each corner.  This shall be fringes for you, and when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of the Lord to perform them.”

First of all, lets take a look at Tzitzit. (fringes or tassels)

 Rav Kook has a beautiful vort about the connection between Tzitzit and the soul. He explains that the soul functions on three levels: a) the actual soul, b) the soul’s character traits (compassion, tolerance, humility, etc) and c) the soul’s actions and conduct.

The deepest level is the actual soul. It’s completely removed from the physical world and can only be seen through the second two levels, characteristics and actions. The character traits act as the soul’s ‘clothing’ or ‘garment’ and indicate the deeper nature of the soul.

The last level of the soul are our actions. Our actions and behaviour are reflections of our character traits, and like the Tzitzit that emanate from the four corners of a garment, they represent endless variations and possibilities.

One thing we must remember, just as people judge us based on the choice of clothing, we are evaluated based on our traits. Like clothing though, they are external and can be changed.

Let’s talk about  Techelet, the dyed sky-blue thread which is a the stunning shade of indigo. According to the most recent research, the  source of the ancient Techelet dye was the murex trunculus snail.

According to Rav Kook the colour is reminscent of the sublime; the oceans, the sky, and God’s Holy Throne (Sotah 17a):

Sky-blue is the background color of the universe. The techelet thread connects us to the very Source of life, from whom all forces flow. Together with the other threads, which correspond to the color of the garment and represent the diverse range of human activity, the techelet thread complements and completes the function of the tassels.

The Torah teaches that the mitzvah of wearing tzitzit corresponds to all 613 mitzvot:  By wearing a garment with these special tassels, we envelop our souls in the Torah’s magnificent fabric of values and deeds.

Here’s a recipe that’s inspired by the colour blue, although this colour obviously does not come close to the sublime nature of  Techelet.

Bamidbar/Numbers 15;38 Speak to the Israelites and tell them to to make tassels (tzitzit) on the corners of their garments for all generations. They shall include a thread of sky-blue [wool] in the corner tassels.

Bamidbar/Numbers 15;38 Speak to the Israelites and tell them to to make tassels (tzitzit) on the corners of their garments for all generations. They shall include a thread of sky-blue [wool] in the corner tassels.

The dressing is such a beautiful colour, plus Merav really enjoyed it! (Hello, Merav!)

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Spinach  Salad with Blueberry Poppy Seed Dressing

Spinach Salad:

  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 package enoki mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, or blanched almond slices
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup blueberries

Layer above ingredients in the order of the recipe.

Blueberry Poppy Seed Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup sugar, (next time I’m going to try this with Stevia/xylitol. If you’re interested in the results leave a comment or shoot me an email)
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup  oil
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Puree ingredients in food processor. Drizzle on salad and enjoy!

B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!

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Parshat Bahalotcha

Two short vorts and two recipes for this week’s Parsha:

From the day the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was dedicated, it was covered by a cloud during the day, and a fire by night. When the  cloud lifted, it was an indication that God wished the Israelites to follow the cloud and continue  their journey until the cloud rested in a new location. The subsequent stays could last anywhere from one night to many years.

Rabbi Yitzchak Levi points out that the cloud  accompanied the people of Israel from the exodus from Egypt until the time that Moshe passed the leadership on to Yehoshua (Joshua). (Devarim/Deuteronomy 31:15) The cloud was an expression of God’s continuous presence among humanity. 

“In other words, the cloud expresses the revelation and resting of the Shekhina on Israel in the framework of God’s direct and unmediated miraculous governance of Israel that is characteristic of the period of the wilderness. When Israel follows after the cloud, they are in essence walking in the footsteps of God.” 

Here’s a recipe to commemorate that cloud.

Bamidbar/Numbers 9:15 On the day the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was erected, the cloud covered the Mishkan, which was a tent for the Testimony

Bamidbar/Numbers 9:15 On the day the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was erected, the cloud covered the Mishkan, which was a tent for the Testimony

Strawberry Cloud

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups strawberries
  • 3/4 cup canned coconut cream (this is the ingredient that makes it awesome)
  • 2 1/2 cups crushed pineapple and pineapple juice (any combination is okay) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • whipped cream, optional for garnish

Puree crushed pineapple in blender and then add remaining ingredients. 

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This week’s Parsha discusses the ‘Chatzotrot’ the trumpets that Moshe was commanded to make. They were to be blown on various occasions such as holidays, assembling, and war. Shlomo Katz discusses the two distinct sounds that the trumpet makes. Teruah is a broken sound – like crying. Tekiah is a long continuous sound. For war time, the Torah tells us that the broken sound is made. According to the Gemara, however, any time the Teruah sound was made, it was preceded by the Tekiah, the long continuous sound.

Katz quotes Rabbi Mordechai Rogov (1900-1969):

Teruah is the sound of a groan and a wail, while tekiah is the sound of triumph and happiness. Our teruot are always accompanied by tekiot. Even when the sounds of wailing and groaning are heard in the camp of Yisrael, there is never total despair. At the same time, the tekiot are heard – the sounds of hope and trust. This is what the Torah is teaching us. When the oppressors come to our gates, we should sound the teruot together with tekiot. 

Here’s a trumpet recipe that is so delicious, I highly suggest doubling it.

Bamidbar 10:2: Make yourself two silver trumpets; you shall make them; they shall be used by you to summon the congregation and to announce the departure of the camps.

Bamidbar 10:2: Make yourself two silver trumpets; you shall make them; they shall be used by you to summon the congregation and to announce the departure of the camps.

Here’s a peak at the King Trumpet Mushrooms: I bought these in Korea Town. I imagine they’re widely available where Asian foods are sold.
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Roasted King Trumpet Mushrooms with Wine and Rosemary

  • 5 King Trumpet mushrooms, cut diagonally in 1/4 ” slices
  • 1/2 lb. smoked turkey, cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons, minced garlic
  • 6-8 chives, chopped
  • handful of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry  wine (white or red is fine)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees. In a large pan sprayed with Pam, place mushrooms, turkey, garlic, chives, rosemary, salt and pepper. Roast 10 minutes. Gently mix up the pan and then roast another 10 minutes. 
  • Add wine for approximately five minutes. 
  • Add fresh parsley before serving. 
  • It’s delicious hot or room temperature. Adapted from Martha Stewart
  • B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!

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Shavuot – cheesecake!

Are you wondering why I’m posting a recipe for Shavuos when Shavuos is a mere…year away? It’s because of a little tragedy that occurred in our house. My beautiful cheesecake plunged to the floor of the kitchen on the first morning of Yontiff. (And no, it could not be salvaged.) So for Shabbos I recreated the cheesecake but this one was even healthier.

It was like a Tikkun on the cheese cake.

I’m posting this recipe so that I don’t forget it. A healthier version of the typical cheesecake, without flour, gluten, or sugar, but really, really awesome.

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Healthier Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the Crust: 

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cheese Part:

  • 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese (three bar packages)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon stevia (liquid)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup xylitol (to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Melt coconut oil and mix with remaining crust ingredients. Pat into bottom of sprayed 8″ spring form pan.

Mix remaining ingredients and pour on top.

Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes. Turn off oven and leave inside for additional 30 minutes.

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Parshat Naso

When the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was finally dedicated on the first day of the month of Nissan, the heads of each of the Shvatim (tribes)  together brought six covered wagons and twelve oxen to help transport the Mishkan

According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe: there is an important lesson to be learned from this. The nation of Israel is comprised of twelve different tribes, each of which is distinguished by unique characteristics, each bringing its own distinct contribution to the fulfillment of its spiritual mission. We also recognize that although we were blessed with something that our fellow tribes might not have, “it is they who provide us with what we lack.”

 Half a wagon is useless—we must combine our gifts in order to have something with which to transport the “Tent of Meeting” in our journey through the spiritual desert that is our material world. And while we may perhaps be able to produce a complete “ox” by our own efforts, it takes two oxen to pull our common wagon.

Here’s a recipe to commemorate the six ‘Agalot’  (wagons) that were brought by the twelve tribal chieftains in honour of the dedication of the Mishkan.

Wagon Wheel Pasta with Basil 

Bamidbar/Numbers 7:3: They brought their offering before the Lord: six covered wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon for each two chieftains, and an ox for each one; they presented them in front of the Mishkan.

Bamidbar/Numbers 7:3: They brought their offering before the Lord: six covered wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon for each two chieftains, and an ox for each one; they presented them in front of the Mishkan.

This is a very casual recipe so amounts do not need to be exact.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Wagon Wheel pasta, cooked
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh basil,
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoon pine nuts, crushed
  • handful of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • salt, pepper, and soy sauce to taste

Directions:

While basil is soaking in soapy water (to remove bugs) sautee onions in olive oil. Add garlic and then chopped basil, pine nuts and tomatoes. Toss with pasta and add seasoning.

Enjoy!

B’tayavon and Shabbat Shalom!

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Parshat Bamidbar

This week’s Parsha describes the encampment map for all the Shvatim (tribes) of Israel as they journey through Sinai.

Bamidbar (Numbers) 2:2  says: Every man by his flag, shall the children of Israel camp

According to Midrash Rabbah,

Each tribe had its own prince and its flag whose color corresponded to the color of its stone [in Aaron’s breastplate–see Exodus 28:15-21]. It was from the tribes of Israel that kingdoms learned to provide themselves with flags of various colors.

The tribe of Reuben has the ruby and the colour of their flag was red and embroidered with mandrakes. (Bereishit/Genesis 30:14)

Emerald was the stone of Zevulun, and the colour of their flag was white with a ship embroidered on it, a reference to the Pasuk, “Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea” (Gen. 49:13).

For a complete list of the stones and flags of all the Shevatim (tribes) please see the above link.

A lovely insight by Rabbi Yonatan Grossman:

The untamed desert bespeaks a world without boundaries: it is wild, devoid of order and regulation, a place without human habitation, a place where wild animals reign. Here, in the midst of the lack of boundaries that the desert embodies, a marvelous sight reveals itself: six hundred thousand foot soldiers, aside from women and children, journeying by tribes and by clans. It is specifically against the background of the desert that the splendor of the camp of Israel stands out: a nation that creates banners and tribes, that maintains clans and tents of families.

In a region where there are no boundaries, the Torah brings us God’s word; order, harmony, and guidance.

What can I say? It’s a camping Parsha, the weather is finally warming up, and I’ve got camping on my mind. (Hello Brian and Jeannine – are we heading back to Bon Echo this summer?)

Here’s a unique recipe from Candiquik. S’mores (we’ve got camping on the brain here) with a twist.

Parshat Bamidbar S’Mores – so simple and I had a blast making them

And they camped all over the desert, those people

Bamidbar (Numbers) 1:52 The children of Israel shall encamp, each man by his own camp and each man by his division.

So simple:

  • Stick a stick in a marshmallow.
  • Dip in chocolate.
  • Cover with crushed graham crackers.

Voila!

B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!

 

 

 

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