Thanks Allan Robbins for your help with this blog post! (He suggested I do the ‘Bagel HaZahav’ but I already had chosen my recipe.) You’ll be seeing more of Allan when I post the cooking videos for my series, ‘Burnt Offerings.’
Now, about the Parsha… At the end of this Parsha, Moshe teaches the Israelites about various laws.
34:22 And you shall make for yourself a Festival of Weeks, the first of the wheat harvest, and the festival of the ingathering, at the turn of the year.
We were slaves in Egypt and 49 days later received Torah on Sinai. The barley harvest is brought on Pesach, from which point we count the Omer 49 days up to Shavuot. On Shavuos we bring the loaves of bread (wheat) because wheat is considered human food. We ascended from incomplete humans (animals) up to humanity when we received the Torah.
Bezalel designed the Mishkan, including the Shulchan (Table) for the Lechem Hapanim. (showbread) Who is Bezalel and where does he come from? In 31:2-6 God tells Moshe that Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Chur from the tribe of Yehuda has been imbued with divine with ‘Ruach Elokim’ the spirit of God. He has received ‘wisdom, with insight, with knowledge for all manner of craftsmanship.’
Bezalel’s grandfather Chur was murdered during\ the Golden Calf because he tried to prevent it from happening. He paid with his life. In his merit, his grandson Bezalel was the designer of the Mishkan and its vessels. There’s a poetic justice here. The Mishkan was the Tikkun (rectification) for the golden calf. A fine line exists between the Kruvim (cherubim) and the golden calf. But one is idolatry, and the other is God’s commandment. We learn that the drives and talents of humans should be channelled for the good, to glorify God, instead of evil.
Food has long been depicted by artists. Bakery shops in particular were a popular subject for paintings by Dutch artists in the mid-17th century. In Job Berckheyde’s painting from 1681, “The Baker,” a baker is seen blowing his horn to announce that his freshly baked bread and pretzels are ready for sale.
Here’s this week’s wheat recipe – pretzels!
Pretzels (adapted from Food.com)
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 4 cups flour (approximately)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/4 cup water
- Mix the warm water with sugar and sprinkle on yeast. When it’s bubbled up add the flour. If you’re using a Kitchen Aid (yay! I LOVE mine) you want the batter to ball up. I had to add the oil and water to get it to a good consistency. You might be lucky but don’t hesitate to add some extra ingredients if it’s too dry or wet.
- Let it rise until double. That could take less than half an hour.
- Roll out into 12 18″ long strings. Shape into pretzel shapes.
In a pot, boil:
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- Put each pretzel in the baking soda mixture for ten seconds or so.
- Place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle (VERY sparingly) coarse salt and bake for six minutes at 425 degrees.
- Remove from oven and try not eat to eat them all at once.
Sorry this blog post is so late. You know…the whole Purim thing.
Have a great Shabbos and B’tayavon!