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Parshat Vayeitzei

And he encountered the place (Bereishit 28:11)

Here’s a very short vort for the Parsha. Why it’s so short…it’s a micro-vort!

Yaakov leaves Bersheva and travels to Charan, where his uncle Lavan lives. En route, he encounters “the place” – Mount Moriah. The Pasuk describing the place, is one of the sources for Maariv, the evening prayer.

According to Rabbi Joshua ben Levi in Midrash Rabbah, the patriarchs established our three daily Tephillot (prayers).

Avraham instituted Shacharit, the morning prayer, because in Bereishit 19:27 it says, “And Avraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before God.”

Isaac instituted Mincha, the afternoon prayer, because it says in Bereishit/Genesis: 24:63) “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening.”

Jacob instituted Maariv, the evening prayer, as it says , “And he encountered The Place… because the sun had set.”

Here’s a dish with three vegetables.

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Three Salad

  • 1 lb green beans
  • 4 red peppers
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Trim green beans. Cut peppers in strips and slice mushrooms in half.
  2. Drizzle oil and spices on the vegetables and bake in the oven at 400 F for 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

B’tayavon and have a great Shabbat.

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Parshat Shelach

In Bamidbar 15:38-39 God says to Moshe:

“Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them that they shall make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations, and they shall affix a thread of sky blue [wool] on the fringe of each corner.  This shall be fringes for you, and when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of the Lord to perform them.”

First of all, lets take a look at Tzitzit. (fringes or tassels)

 Rav Kook has a beautiful vort about the connection between Tzitzit and the soul. He explains that the soul functions on three levels: a) the actual soul, b) the soul’s character traits (compassion, tolerance, humility, etc) and c) the soul’s actions and conduct.

The deepest level is the actual soul. It’s completely removed from the physical world and can only be seen through the second two levels, characteristics and actions. The character traits act as the soul’s ‘clothing’ or ‘garment’ and indicate the deeper nature of the soul.

The last level of the soul are our actions. Our actions and behaviour are reflections of our character traits, and like the Tzitzit that emanate from the four corners of a garment, they represent endless variations and possibilities.

One thing we must remember, just as people judge us based on the choice of clothing, we are evaluated based on our traits. Like clothing though, they are external and can be changed.

Let’s talk about  Techelet, the dyed sky-blue thread which is a the stunning shade of indigo. According to the most recent research, the  source of the ancient Techelet dye was the murex trunculus snail.

According to Rav Kook the colour is reminscent of the sublime; the oceans, the sky, and God’s Holy Throne (Sotah 17a):

Sky-blue is the background color of the universe. The techelet thread connects us to the very Source of life, from whom all forces flow. Together with the other threads, which correspond to the color of the garment and represent the diverse range of human activity, the techelet thread complements and completes the function of the tassels.

The Torah teaches that the mitzvah of wearing tzitzit corresponds to all 613 mitzvot:  By wearing a garment with these special tassels, we envelop our souls in the Torah’s magnificent fabric of values and deeds.

Here’s a recipe that’s inspired by the colour blue, although this colour obviously does not come close to the sublime nature of  Techelet.

Bamidbar/Numbers 15;38 Speak to the Israelites and tell them to to make tassels (tzitzit) on the corners of their garments for all generations. They shall include a thread of sky-blue [wool] in the corner tassels.

Bamidbar/Numbers 15;38 Speak to the Israelites and tell them to to make tassels (tzitzit) on the corners of their garments for all generations. They shall include a thread of sky-blue [wool] in the corner tassels.

The dressing is such a beautiful colour, plus Merav really enjoyed it! (Hello, Merav!)

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Spinach  Salad with Blueberry Poppy Seed Dressing

Spinach Salad:

  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 package enoki mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, or blanched almond slices
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup blueberries

Layer above ingredients in the order of the recipe.

Blueberry Poppy Seed Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup sugar, (next time I’m going to try this with Stevia/xylitol. If you’re interested in the results leave a comment or shoot me an email)
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup  oil
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Puree ingredients in food processor. Drizzle on salad and enjoy!

B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!

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Parshat Bahalotcha

Two short vorts and two recipes for this week’s Parsha:

From the day the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was dedicated, it was covered by a cloud during the day, and a fire by night. When the  cloud lifted, it was an indication that God wished the Israelites to follow the cloud and continue  their journey until the cloud rested in a new location. The subsequent stays could last anywhere from one night to many years.

Rabbi Yitzchak Levi points out that the cloud  accompanied the people of Israel from the exodus from Egypt until the time that Moshe passed the leadership on to Yehoshua (Joshua). (Devarim/Deuteronomy 31:15) The cloud was an expression of God’s continuous presence among humanity. 

“In other words, the cloud expresses the revelation and resting of the Shekhina on Israel in the framework of God’s direct and unmediated miraculous governance of Israel that is characteristic of the period of the wilderness. When Israel follows after the cloud, they are in essence walking in the footsteps of God.” 

Here’s a recipe to commemorate that cloud.

Bamidbar/Numbers 9:15 On the day the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was erected, the cloud covered the Mishkan, which was a tent for the Testimony

Bamidbar/Numbers 9:15 On the day the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was erected, the cloud covered the Mishkan, which was a tent for the Testimony

Strawberry Cloud

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups strawberries
  • 3/4 cup canned coconut cream (this is the ingredient that makes it awesome)
  • 2 1/2 cups crushed pineapple and pineapple juice (any combination is okay) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • whipped cream, optional for garnish

Puree crushed pineapple in blender and then add remaining ingredients. 

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This week’s Parsha discusses the ‘Chatzotrot’ the trumpets that Moshe was commanded to make. They were to be blown on various occasions such as holidays, assembling, and war. Shlomo Katz discusses the two distinct sounds that the trumpet makes. Teruah is a broken sound – like crying. Tekiah is a long continuous sound. For war time, the Torah tells us that the broken sound is made. According to the Gemara, however, any time the Teruah sound was made, it was preceded by the Tekiah, the long continuous sound.

Katz quotes Rabbi Mordechai Rogov (1900-1969):

Teruah is the sound of a groan and a wail, while tekiah is the sound of triumph and happiness. Our teruot are always accompanied by tekiot. Even when the sounds of wailing and groaning are heard in the camp of Yisrael, there is never total despair. At the same time, the tekiot are heard – the sounds of hope and trust. This is what the Torah is teaching us. When the oppressors come to our gates, we should sound the teruot together with tekiot. 

Here’s a trumpet recipe that is so delicious, I highly suggest doubling it.

Bamidbar 10:2: Make yourself two silver trumpets; you shall make them; they shall be used by you to summon the congregation and to announce the departure of the camps.

Bamidbar 10:2: Make yourself two silver trumpets; you shall make them; they shall be used by you to summon the congregation and to announce the departure of the camps.

Here’s a peak at the King Trumpet Mushrooms: I bought these in Korea Town. I imagine they’re widely available where Asian foods are sold.
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Roasted King Trumpet Mushrooms with Wine and Rosemary

  • 5 King Trumpet mushrooms, cut diagonally in 1/4 ” slices
  • 1/2 lb. smoked turkey, cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons, minced garlic
  • 6-8 chives, chopped
  • handful of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry  wine (white or red is fine)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees. In a large pan sprayed with Pam, place mushrooms, turkey, garlic, chives, rosemary, salt and pepper. Roast 10 minutes. Gently mix up the pan and then roast another 10 minutes. 
  • Add wine for approximately five minutes. 
  • Add fresh parsley before serving. 
  • It’s delicious hot or room temperature. Adapted from Martha Stewart
  • B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!

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