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Parshat Vayechi – January 7, 2012

In Parshat Vayechi, Yaakov, on his deathbed, gathers his sons (and grandsons in Yoseph’s case) to bless them. He does so with a keen understanding of their personalities and character traits — both the positive and negative. He speaks to Yehuda in 49:11 and 12 he says:

Tzora Vineyard

He loads his young donkey with grapes of a vine, and his she-donkey’s foal with a vine-branch. He washes his clothes in wine, and his cloak in the blood of grapesHis eyes are red from wine, and his teeth are white [from an abundance of] milk.

According to Rashi, the multiple mentions of wine in these two pesukim represents a prophecy that the land of Yehuda would flow with wine like a fountain. And in fact the Judean hills were the main source of wine in the Biblical era. According to Ben Ami Bravdo, Judean Hills winemaker and viticulturist at Hebrew University, “Archaeologists have found a winery in almost every second house around here.” His estimate is that Jews were consuming 400 litres per capita in the times of the second Bais HaMikdash. (In contrast to 4 litres in modern Israel.) Much of the wine was consumed for sacramental purposes related to the Temple.

In the last twenty years a renaissance of wine making has occurred in Harei Yehudah. To date, there are now approximately 30 wineries in the Judean Hills.

Here’s a fun recipe to celebrate this Pasuk and the modern rebirth of wineries in this ancient area that was prophesied by Jacob.

You ready for this?

Sangria Slushies!! (how awesome is that?)

(I bought wine from the Judean Hills for this recipe.)  Adapted from a recipe from Food.com.

  • 8-19 ounce canned crushed pineapple
  • 2 1/2 cups wine (I used half sweet and half dry)
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Blend ingredients in a blender or food processor until sugar is dissolved and ice cubes are mixed. Pour mixture into a lasagna pan and freeze. Take out and let defrost to room temperature when ready to serve.
Here’s another dish that’s inspired by the Parsha:
In 48:16 Jacob says the famous blessing that is part of the night time “Shema” prayer:
The Angel who redeemed me from all evil, should bless the lads, and let my name be called on them, together with the name of my fathers, Avraham and Yitzchok. May they be like fish, multiplying within the land.
The theme of fish, multiplying and growing and becoming a nation is the inspiration for this recipe:
Be-Like Fish Salmon in Puff Dough
  • one package puff dough
  • two onions
  • 10 mushrooms
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • one cup rice
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • steamed spinach,
  • two fillets of salmon
  • egg and sesame seeds for egg wash

Saute onions and garlic until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until soft. Add rice, water, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Shut off the heat and cover pot and let simmer until rice absorbs the water. Roll out puff dough into cut into 12 squares (approximately 5 x 5″) In the middle of each square of puff dough, place a square of skinless and boneless salmon, topped with a tablespoon of spinach and two tablespoons (approximately) of rice. Gather the puff dough and squeeze together on top of the filling. Flip upside down so that the gathered ends are on the bottom. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Press down on the puff dough so that it’s circular. Cover all of them with a beaten egg and sprinkle on sesame seeds. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden in color. At 350 F.

B’teiavon!

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