Monthly Archives: August 2013

Parshat Ki Tavo

This Parsha opens with the mitzvah of Bikurim (bringing the first fruits to the Kohen/priest

(Devarim 26:2) you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you will bring from your land, which the Lord, your God, is giving you. And you shall put them into a basket and go to the place which the Lord, your God, will choose to have His Name dwell there.

Then in Pasuk 11 it says:

Then, you shall rejoice with all the good that the Lord, your God, has granted you and your household you, the Levite, and the stranger who is among you.

There’s an important concept here – Hakarat Hatov – acknowledging good.  Rabbi Yissocher Frand quotes a Medrash from Bereishit that draws an equivalency between ingratitude and ‘kefira b’Ikar’ – a ‘fundmanetal theological denial of the Almighty.’ He tells us that the person who is lacks gratitude towards other humans will ultimately lack gratitude toward God. “One who is an ingrate to his boss, his friends, his spouse, his parents, and his neighbor will eventually come to deny the favors of the Almighty,” Rabbi Frand writes.

Gratitude is what we learn from the joy that we are instructed to experience when bringing the first fruits to the Kohen. I’ve been doing so many dessert recipes that I decided to use fruit in a different way this week. So for this week’s recipe I’ve got Moroccan spicy chicken with fruit – apricots and prunes.

Devarim 26:2 you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you will bring from your land, which the Lord, your God, is giving you. And you shall put them into a basket and go to the place which the Lord, your God, will choose to have His Name dwell there.

Devarim 26:2 you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you will bring from your land, which the Lord, your God, is giving you. And you shall put them into a basket and go to the place which the Lord, your God, will choose to have His Name dwell there.

I was always grossed out by the idea of chicken with fruit. YUCK. But my taste buds must have grown up, because I found this dish to be scrumptious. Especially eaten with the fruit!

Spicy Moroccan Chicken with Apricots and Prunes

(from Food.com http://www.food.com/recipe/spicy-moroccan-chicken-with-apricots-and-prunes-low-fat-251477)

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2/3 cup pitted prune
  • 2/3 cup dried apricot, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, halved

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a casserole dish or pan.
  2. Mix it all up so the chicken is covered. Chill overnight.
  3. Bake chicken, uncovered, in 400 degree F oven for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink. You can  broil it for five minutes to make it brown.

B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!

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Parshat Shoftim

In this week’s Parsha, Sefer Devarim/Deuteronomy 20:19 we learn a commandment about trees, fruit, and the material things of this world.

When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them, for you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. 

The apple tree in our back yard. It never really took off but for some reason it's full of apples.

The apple tree in our back yard. It never really took off but for some reason it’s full of apples this year.

This prohibition is about a lot more than fruit trees and wartime. This commandment applies during times of peace and is  known as Bal tashchit gratuitous destruction and unnecessary wastefulness.

Talmud Bavli provides numerous examples of  Bal tashchit, including purchasing overly-expensive foods, unnecessary tearing of cloth, wasting oil or fuel, using furniture for firewood, and the killing of animals.  

Rambam says that we are forbidden to “smash household items, tear clothing, demolish buildings, plug a spring, or destroy food items.” The Medieval sage, Rabbeinu Yerucham spoke against wasting water. 

The Torah is very clear about not engaging in wanton destruction and waste. But why?

In Sefer Chorev, Rabbi Shimpshon Raphael Hirsch explains that Bal tashchit is a reminder of God’s dominion over Creation, that all objects and creatures are His property. Objects beneath mankind are meant to be used “for wise human purposes, sanctified by the word of [His] teaching.”

According to Rav Hirsch, God is telling us, “I lent them (objects) to you for wise use only; never forget that I lent them to you.”

So here is what it comes down to: The physical world is a manifestation of the spiritual one. Therefore our stewardship of the physical world, is an expression of our relationship to God.

The care and protection of the environment is good and holy precisely because it is not an end to itself. But rather it’s a vehicle for our function as ‘tselem Elokim’  (man is created in the shadow/image of God) and the fact that every physical thing on this planet is His creation that we must use according to His will. The Torah (and Talmud and commentaries) gives us a very strong message about protecting the environment, but ultimately we do not worship the environment. We worship God. God gives us the gifts of this physical world and through the Torah instructs us on their stewardship. And in that way we serve Him.

And on that note….this week’s recipe is inspired by fruit–specifically the fruit that are in season now. Fresh blueberries and peaches. Yum. 

Devarim 20:19: When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them, for you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down.

Devarim 20:19: When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them, for you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down.

Peach Blueberry Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups peeled sliced fresh peaches
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  • Place fruit base in casserole dish.
  • Mix topping and cover fruit base.
  • Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. (I put a loose piece of foil on top so it doesn’t harden.)

B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!

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