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Parshat Lech Lecha

In this week’s Parsha, Avram enters Canaan, a region of city-states that’s been embroiled in conflict  for the previous quarter century.

For twelve years four kings led by King Chedorlaomer of Elam subjugated and terrorized five kings in the Sodom Valley.  The five kings finally rose up against their oppressors in a rebellion that lasted thirteen years until Chedorlaomer and his alliance decided to crush the five kings once and for all. The four kings won battle after battle across the Sodom Valley (Rephaim, Zuzim, Emim, Hori, Amelik, Emor, Sodom.)

Avraham’s nephew Lot was taken captive.

When Avram was informed, he mobilized his 318 servants and pursued the four kings with their armies all the way Chova, just west of Damascus. He was victorious, redeeming Lot and recovering the property and the other prisoners. The king of Sodom offered the recovered property to Avram who refused it.

Bereishit 14:22-23 And Avram said to the king of Sodom, “I raise my hand to the Lord, the Most High God, Who possesses heaven and earth. Neither from a thread to a shoe strap, nor will I take from whatever is yours, that you should not say, ‘It was I who made Avram rich.’

In Talmud Sotah (17a) it says that the reward for Avraham declaring “not a thread or a shoe-strap” was B’nei Yisrael meriting the mitzvot of tzitzit and tefillin.

Avraham’s response to the kings offer of spoils was clear: let it be obvious that the miracle of his tiny band of servants prevailing against the four kings came directly from God. Avram had no connection to the battle, but only waged it to redeem his nephew. He acted solely for the mitzvah and was unwilling to put a monetary value on that.

I find it hard to visualize what these kings looked like. Did they wear robes? Crowns? Were they related?

Here’s a more recent specimen:

File:Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger - Portrait of Henry VIII - Google Art Project.jpg

Henry VIII  lived from 1491 to 1547 and was primarily known for two things – his six wives, and the English Reformation. He was an extraordinarily charismatic man of many talents. He was an intellect and scholar who played the lute and organ, composed music,  read and wrote English, French, and Latin, and excelled at jousting and hunting. On the flip side, he executed 28 people including two of his wives, destroyed the economy, and squandered his father’s fortune. Just your basic garden variety tyrant. 

Greensleeves is a classic English folk song that is reputed to have been written by King Henry VIII. There are millions of versions on YouTube, but I liked this one that includes the nyckelharpa, a traditional Swedish musical instrument.

Here’s a recipe called Maids of Honour from the Tudor era. It’s believed that Henry VIII discovered these cakes when they were being eaten by Ann Boleyn and her maids of honour (ladies in waiting). The king tasted one and was so delighted that he insisted that the recipe remain a secret and be stored in an iron box to be locked up at Richmond Palace. There he goes again, our Henry.

Bereishit 14: 22-23 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I raise my hand to the Lord, the Most High God, Who possesses heaven and earth. Neither from a thread to a shoe strap, nor will I take from whatever is yours, that you should not say, 'I have made Abram wealthy.'

Bereishit 14: 22-23 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I raise my hand to the Lord, the Most High God, Who possesses heaven and earth. Neither from a thread to a shoe strap, nor will I take from whatever is yours, that you should not say, ‘I have made Abram wealthy.’

Maids of Honour – a Tudor Pastry

Puff Dough Base

Just buy the puff dough!

Okay, so maybe you can’t. Or if you’re like me and just didn’t feel like driving to the supermarket to get the puff dough tonight, you can  put together this slightly healthy recipe in my Kitchen Aid:

  • 1/2 margarine (I used Earth Balance vegan cooking and baking stick)
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp  salt
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • oil and flour for greasing and dusting muffin pan

Filling:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 oz. container Tofutti pareve cream ‘cheese’
  • 1 teaspoon Amaretto or almond liqueur
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 Splenda (or sugar)

Whipped Topping

I used Mimiccreme, non-dairy, vegan, whipped topping made from cashews and almonds. It whips up into delicious awesomeness.

Instructions:

  1. Mix puff dough in electric mixer until it forms a ball.
  2. Roll out approximately 3/8″ thick and cut out circles.
  3. Oil and dust muffin pan (this recipe made 10) and press in puff dough circles.
  4. For filling, beat eggs with cream ‘cheese’ until liquidy.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and pour into the puff dough shells.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. Remove and when cooled, pipe on whipped topping.

B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos.

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