Category Archives: Pinchas

Parshat Pinchas – July 7, 2012

In Numbers 27:1-11 the five daughters of  Tzelaphchad – Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah – approach Moshe, Eleazar, and the other leadership of the Israelites. Their father has died and although they are daughters, they wish to inherit their father’s inheritance. Moshe consults with God who tells him that the daughters ‘speak justly’ and their father’s inheritance should indeed be transferred to them.

Rabbi Benjamin Yudin discusses the contrasting opinions of two commentators. The Yalkut Shimoni states that this incident took place in the second year of the desert, immediately following the sin of the spies. Another opinion holds that it took place in the 40th year following the death of Aaron the Kohen. According to Rabbi Yudin:

Following Aharon’s demise, they [Israelites] started traveling in the opposite direction, away from Israel back towards Egypt… what is most exemplary on the part of these five righteous women is that at a time when the popular tide and trend of the nation was “let us appoint a leader and let us return to Egypt” (Bamidbar 14:4) they requested an inheritance in the Land of Israel. 

The Yalkut derives a most important principle from the above: one who lives in a society that is practicing evil, but has the integrity and commitment to buck the system and do what is right, not only receives his due reward, but also all the potential reward and blessings that could have been accrued by the generation. Thus the daughters of Tzlofchad not only received their reward for their love of the Land and pining, but received the reward that was potentially awaiting the rest of the generation.

The women’s request for their father’s inheritance leads to a series of guidelines from God to Moshe on this issue. The story of these righteous women is truly an inspiring story.

This week’s recipe simply had to honour the five daughters of Tzlaphchad.

I decided to look for a recipe that combined women and Israel. “How to Cook in Palestine” written in 1936 is considered the first Israeli cookbook. Unfortunately it’s out of print. But I did find something fantastic, written by Lady Judith Cohen Montefiore in 1846 called The Jewish Manual: or Practical Information in Jewish Modern Cookery, with a Collection of Valuable Recipes and Hints Relating to the Toilette, edited by a Lady. The best part of this book is that it’s available digitally for free through Project Gutenberg.

Sir Moses Montefiore was an outstanding Jewish philanthropist who became Torah-observant after his first visit to Eretz Yisrael in 1827 and even traveled with his own personal Shochet. (ritual slaughterer)

I’m a bit of an afficionado for historical ‘ladies’ magazines. I love Good Housekeeping from the 1940’s “Oh my, how will I ever become a bride living with the pain of halitosis!”  Lady Montefiore’s cookbook is fascinating even though it’s completely impractical.

Here’s an example:

DIET-BREAD CAKE.

Beat together five eggs and half a pound of white sugar, then add six ounces of flour well dried and sifted, a little lemon-juice and grated lemon-peel; bake in a moderate oven.

See what I mean?

  • ingredients aren’t really measured
  •  ingredients are limited (butter, milk, almonds, flour, basic veggies) and sometimes…strange
  • No oven temperatures: just put things ‘on the fire’
  • The entire animal is used ‘take the head of a calf’
  • Pheasants, pigeons, partridges, venison, galore!
  • butter, butter, and more butter!

There’s a recipe for apple sauce for goose in which she says, ‘the acid of the apples is reckoned a corrective to the richness of the goose.

Okay, that’s just plain yuck. 
Here’s an example:

DIET-BREAD CAKE.

Beat together five eggs and half a pound of white sugar, then add six ounces of flour well dried and sifted, a little lemon-juice and grated lemon-peel; bake in a moderate oven.

The beauty trips are great too. (how to remove a tan – let’s just say that it involves lots of cucumber, you can also learn how to remove freckles, etc.)

Here’s this week’s recipe taken straight from 1846! (I used bar-b-q turkey and beef)
ITALIAN SALAD.

Cut up the white parts of a cold fowl, and mix it with mustard and cress, and a lettuce chopped finely, and pour over a fine salad mixture, composed of equal quantities of vinegar and the finest salad oil, salt, mustard, and the yolks of hard boiled eggs, and the yolk of one raw egg, mixed smoothly together; a little tarragon vinegar is then added, and the mixture is poured over the salad; the whites of the eggs are mixed, and serve to garnish the dish, arranged in small heaps alternately with heaps of grated smoked beef; two or three hard boiled eggs are cut up with the chicken in small pieces and mixed with the salad; this is a delicate and refreshing entrée; the appearance of this salad may be varied by piling the fowl in the centre of the dish, then pour over the salad mixture, and make a wall of any dressed salad, laying the whites of the eggs (after the yolks have been removed for the mixture), cut in rings on the top like a chain.

B’Tayavon and have a great Shabbos!
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