Monthly Archives: July 2013

Parshat V’etchanan

In this week’s Parsha, Moshe exhorts the Israelites to observe the statutes and judgements, (הַחֻקִּים וְאֶל הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים) exactly as they are given without adding or subtracting from them. Then we come to this Pasuk: Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:11

And you approached and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire up to the midst of the heavens, with darkness, a cloud, and opaque darkness.

Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky asks an interesting question. If Moshe has already emphasized the importance of observing the Mitzvot why is he now focusing so heavily on the scene at Sinai. Moshe says (2:9) But beware and watch yourself very well, lest you forget the things that your eyes saw, and lest these things depart from your heart, all the days of your life, and you shall make them known to your children and to your children’s children. 

What’s more important? The content of the message (living a holy life in the image of God) or the manner in which the message is conveyed (the spectacular scene at Sinai)? One would think that the answer would be simple. But Rabbi Kamenetzky answers that it’s not necessarily the case.

He tells the story of a great Rosh Yeshiva whose son left the fold for more secular pastures, whereas the sons of the simple secretary of that same Yeshiva became devoted Torah scholars. When asked why that happened, the Rosh Yeshiva answered, “One thing I can tell you. At my Shabbos table I was discussing questions on Maimonides writings and Talmudic difficulties. He was singing zemiros (songs of faith and devotion).”

Rabbi Kamentzky explains, “the intellectual analyzing, even actual observance, is, of course , of utmost importance. But nothing supersedes simple faith.”

Rav Yosef Ya’avetz, a renowned rabbi who was among those expelled during the Spanish Inquisition, wrote that those whose observance was based purely on intellect ‘withered’ under Torquemada’s torture. But those who had ‘Emunah Pshutah‘ – simple faith – remained committed to their spiritual roots.

It’s obviously critical in the Torah tradition to examine, study, and  analyze. But Moshe is teaching us “to watch ourselves and our souls lest we forget what really happened some 3,300 years ago. Because when we look for the bottom line, it’s at the bottom of the mountain.”

This week’s recipe is inspired by Mount Sinai. It’s called ‘Bombe’ and it just looks like a mountain to me. I made life very difficult for myself by making my own sorbet (without even having an ice cream maker!). You can buy ice cream, take it out of the freezer to warm up for fifteen minutes and then put it in the bowl. Do yourself a favour. I considered making Aseret HaDibrot (Ten Commandment) cookies because I certainly have the cookie cutter for it, and putting one on top but that seemed a little too…obvious.

Anyway, here’s the recipe:

And you approached and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire up to the midst of the heavens, with darkness, a cloud, and opaque darkness.

Mt. Sinai Bombe

  • chocolate cake or brownies
  • ice cream or sorbet
  • chocolate icing


  1. Line a metal bowl with plastic wrap
  2. Squish cake or brownies along the insides of the bowl. Put another smaller bowl to hold the cake in place and then freeze.
  3. Place softened ice cream or sorbet on the bottom and sides next to the cake layer. Freeze.
  4. Put another flavour of softened ice cream or sorbet. Freeze.
  5. Invert.
  6. Pour icing or chocolate on top.

I used strawberry-lemon sorbet from the fabulous Kosher on a Budget blog.

Strawberry-Lemon Sorbet (this recipe is incredible, check out the blog)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 – 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (approximately 3 medium lemons)
  • 1 – 2 cups fresh hulled strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups ice


  1. Heat sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  2. Remove from heat and add fresh lemon juice.
  3. Pour lemon liquid into blender. Add strawberries and ice, and blend until fully mixed. You’ll have to do this in two batches – it’s very wet and messy
  4. Freeze in a pan for five hours and then put in blender again.
  5. You can try putting in some vodka to prevent it from freezing rock solid hard.

The other sorbet I made was Mango-Peach-Banana.

Fruit Sorbet (from

  • 4 cups prepared fruit, pieces
  • 2 -4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 small lemon, juice of
  • 1/2 small lime, juice of


Freeze any combination of fruit. Puree in blender with rest of ingredients. Again, test for amount of sugar. It depends on the fruit. You can also try putting in a tablespoon of vodka so it doesn’t freeze too hard.

The combination that I did (peach, mango with some banana) was awesome. Make life easier for yourself and just buy sorbet. (Although we’re going to really enjoy this tonight, it was a lot of work.) That being said, I think I’ll be making sorbet now.

B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!



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Tisha B’Av 5773

Today is the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av; the most tragic day in the Jewish year when both the First and Second Temples were destroyed, launching millenia of exile, death, and persecution for the Jewish people. It is a day of mourning which began last night when we ate our final meal before sundown, then went to Shul (Synagogue) to hear Megillat Eicha (the Book of Lamentations). It’ll end tonight and until then we won’t eat, drink, wash or bathe or wear leather shoes.

I posted this video last year but I love it so much I’m putting it up again. There are so many reasons to despair: Jew-loathing,  Israel-hatred, nuclear weapons, emboldened terrorists… let us pray that the God will deliver the final redemption to the Jewish people and all of mankind soon.                                                                       

הֲשִׁיבֵנוּ יְהוָה אֵלֶיךָ ונשוב (וְנָשׁוּבָה), חַדֵּשׁ יָמֵינוּ כְּקֶדֶם

Eicha/Lamentations 5:21 Turn Thou us unto You oh Lord, and we shall be turned: renew our days as of old

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