Tag Archives: dessert

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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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:

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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

Directions:

  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

Directions:

  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 Food.com)

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

Directions:

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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Parshat Vayak’hel-Pekudei

Meet the Sisterhood of the Travelling Freilachs

Alex, Jackie, Channah, and Arielle: the sisterhood of the travelling freilachs

Here are four young women who have all changed their lives.

Three are in public school. One transferred to a Jewish high school. Their journey back to Judaism brought them together and much of that path was centred on Shabbat. (This week’s Parsha opens up with the mitzvah of Shabbos!) They celebrate every Shabbos together, all over the city, in different people’s houses. (I had to book them two months in advance – that’s how popular they are.) Next year they’ll be studying (together) in a seminary in Jerusalem. One day this is going to be a book, because this is one inspiring story.

It’s not an accident, that there’s a theme of FOURS this week.

The double parsha here is almost an identical repeat of the parshas Trumah and Tetzaveh. Four Parshas that deal with the design and construction of the Mishkan. (Sanctuary) But the repetition occurs after a significant event occurs – Eigel Hazahav – the golden calf.

Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky describes the meaning of the difference between the two double parshas. Terumah-Tetzaveh gives instruction for building the Mishkan, while this week’s Parsha recounts the actual construction. Rabbi Sobolofsky writes:

The area of the mishkan endowed with the highest level of kedusha was the kodesh hakodashim (holy of holies) which housed the aron containing the luchos.(tablets) While the aseres hadibros (Ten Commandments) appeared on both the first and second luchos both, the essence of the two sets was different. The first set is described as “v’haluchos maaseh Elokim – the work of Hashem”, whereas the second set was carved out by Moshe Rabbeinu, with only the letters being carved out by Hashem.

This loss of holiness corresponds to the two Batei Mikdashot (Temples).

The first Beis Hamikdash resembled the original plan for the mishkan – present were the shechina, the urim vetumim, and prophecy. It had all the qualities of “maaseh Elokim – the work of Hashem.” On the other hand, the second Beis Hamikdash, devoid of the urim vetumim and nevuah (prophecy), was built by the Jewish people and endowed with sanctity through human effort and fervent prayer that the shechina rest upon it to some degree.

Continuing the theme of four

There are four Shabbatot during the year, which are unrelated to holidays or Rosh Chodesh, but feature two portions. (The Maftir and Haftorah are read from different Parshas). These Shabboses are:

  1. Shekalim
  2. Zachor
  3. Parah
  4. HaChodesh

The first Shabbos after Purim is Shabbat Parah – the Parah Adumah. (red heifer -Bamidbar/Numbers:19)

The ashes of the of the red heifer were used for the purpose of ritual purification before making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Pesach. (Passover). This particular Mitzvah (commandment) is a Chok, meaning that it is practiced on the basis of faith and not logic. Between Moshe and the destruction of the second Temple there were only eight or nine red heifers.

According to Rabbi Frand:

The Be’er Yosef offers a powerful insight. The reason G-d hid the understanding of Parah Adumah from us, is to teach us a vital lesson. The lesson is that there are things in life that are inexplicable. We must learn the lesson that things will happen in life that we will never be able to understand. We will come across things that will be terrible paradoxes, things that have apparently no rhyme and no reason.

In honour of this being Shabbat Parah, I bring you the following recipe… Red Velvet Cake.

Bamidbar/Numbers 19:2 This is the statute of the Torah which God commanded, saying; speak to Bnei Yisroel that they shall take to you a red, perfect cow without a blemish, upon which no yoke was laid.

This one baked and decorated by my daughter Aliza!

Bamidbar/Numbers 19:2 This is the statute of the Torah which God commanded, saying; speak to Bnei Yisroel that they shall take to you a red, perfect cow without a blemish, upon which no yoke was laid.

Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup or margarine
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa (heaping)
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

Directions:

  1. Cream shortening or margarine, sugar and eggs.
  2. Mix the red food colouring and cocoa.
  3. Add to the margarine mixture.
  4. Add soy milk, flour, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Mix soda with vinegar, and add to the batter.
  6. Pour into a greased and floured 8″ cake pans.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 35 -40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.Read more:

Here’s another four in the Parsha:

The Shulchan (table) and Aron (ark) each had four rings on the corner, with which the rods could be threaded through. But the poles were never removed from the rings. Why? To teach that the no matter where the Jewish people travel, the Torah must always be with them.

Here’s a dessert with four rings:

Shemot 37:3 And he cast four golden rings for it upon its four corners, two rings on its one side and two rings on its other side.

I used a cookie cutter that was the same size as the dessert cup to cut out the fruit. Four rings for four colours.

Here’s another ring recipe:

Frozen ice rings with fruit.

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