Category Archives: Emor

Parshat Emor

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.

Vayikra/Leviticus (23:15) "You shall count for yourselves, from the morrow of the rest day when you bring the omer of the waving, seven weeks they shall be complete"

Vayikra/Leviticus (23:15) “You shall count for yourselves, from the morrow of the rest day when you bring the omer of the waving, seven weeks they shall be complete”


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


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Parshat Emor – May 12, 2012

With apologies for this late posting. My writing is taking up more and more of my time so this blog is sometimes neglected. I’ll try to post next week’s recipe earlier in the week.

In Parshat Emor, three mitzvot (commandments) relate to the counting of the Omer – the seven-week period spanning Pesach (16th of the Hebrew month of Nissan) to Shavuos (6th of Sivan):

  1. the commandment to bring the ‘Omer’ (barley) offering on Pesach
  2. the commandment to bring two (wheat) loaves offering on Shavuos (‘Mincha Chadash’ – new meal offering)
  3. the commandment to count the Omer
We’ve learned already that barley represented animal feed and wheat is human food. When the Israelites left Egypt they had descended 49 levels of ‘Tumah (impurity)’. The 49 days between Pesach and Shavuos represent a daily elevation of the Jewish people from the depths of Tumah to the height of spirituality, manifested by the giving of the Torah at Sinai.
The Omer is a mourning period, for according to the Talmud (Yevamos 62B) 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s students died in this period because of their lack of respect and consideration for each other. There are many explanations, but we know that their behaviour contradicts the spiritual elevation that is supposed to be taking during this period, in preparation for receiving the Torah.
Here’s a recipe that commemorates the loaves offered by Bnei Yisrael during the festival of Shavuot – Babka. It’s a lot of steps but sooo worth the effort!

Vayika 23:17: you shall bring bread, two loaves…they shall be of fine flour,and they shall be baked leavened, the first offering to the Lord.


Basic dough:

For the basic dough you can take off part of your Challah dough (2 flour cups worth) if you have a big Challah recipe. If not, this recipe can be easily mixed up in a breadmaker:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon yeast

Place the ingredients in the bread maker in the above order and set to ‘dough’:


This is the hard part. There are a number of ways to go with this but at the very least, this is what you’ll need:

  • 12 oz chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup margarine
Melt margarine and add remainder of ingredients.

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg

Crumb Topping: (optional)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup margarine

Melt margarine and add sugar and flour and mix until crumbly.

Directions: (see pictures below)

  • Roll out dough into an approximately 18″ square shape.
  • Brush all four edges with beaten egg.
  • Spread the chocolate filling on the dough, reserving a few tablespoons for later.
  • Roll up the dough jelly-roll style. Squeeze the edges closed.
  • Twist the dough 5 -6 turns.
  • Brush the top with the egg and then sprinkle on (more like pack on carefully) the remainder of the chocolate filling.
  • Fold one side over the other (length-wise)
  • Place in a greased bread pan that’s been lined with parchment paper.
  • Brush egg on top and sprinkle the crumb topping on top.
  • Bake in pre-heated oven (350 degrees) with a piece of foil loosely placed on top for 1/2 hour.
  • Rotate the pan and bake another 20 minutes, with the foil still on.
  • When it’s cool, remove from pan.
  • Try to control yourself!

Spread the chocolate filling on the dough. If you want to be decadent, add 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder also!

Now you’re going to twist it five or six times:

Fold one side over the other and place in pan.

Cover with beaten egg and press the remaining chocolate filling on top.

Bake and enjoy!


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