In Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:10 we read about the Omer barley offering on the second day of Pesach (Passover) which inaugurates the seven-week ‘Omer’ leading up to Shavuot with its wheat offering.
Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When you come to the Land which I am giving you, and you reap its harvest, you shall bring to the kohen an omer of the beginning of your reaping.
According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Kabbalah teaches that every person has two souls; one animal (our physical needs) and one Godly ( ‘our transcendent drives.’) The animal soul contends with self-preservation but the Godly soul engages with meaning and spirituality and it is that part of our being that differentiate us from animal and define us as human. Both elements are integral to our beings.
Even as we stimulate the divine in us to rise above the merely animal, we must also develop and refine our animal selves, learning to cultivate the constructive aspects of selfhood (e.g., self-confidence, courage, perseverance) while weeding out the selfish and the profane.
Wheat in the Torah is a staple of human diet while barley is associated with animal food. (Psalms 104:15 and I Kings 5:8, Talmud, Sotah 14a). Wheat is therefore symbolic of our Godly nature while barley is indicative of our animal soul – both necessary components in our earthly mission. The seven-week Omer period raises us from Egyptian exile with our barley/animal oriented soul up to the giving of the Torah, symbolized by the wheat offering. This week’s recipe is a delicious slow-cooker barley soup. It’s going to need a good ten hours on low or less on high. It would make an excellent Friday night soup, especially if you’re in the Great White North where winter is just not letting go. This photo isn’t great, but I have to tell you that this is a fabulous soup.
Vayikra/Leviticus (23:15) “You shall count for yourselves, from the morrow of the rest day when you bring the omer of the waving, seven weeks they shall be complete”
Beef and Barley Soup for the Slow Cooker
- 1-2 lbs beef chuck (I used meat scissors to cut it up)
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 large chopped carrots
- 1/2 red pepper, cubed
- 4 mushrooms, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 tomatoes, chopped (or a can stewed tomatoes)
- 1/2 cup corn niblets
- 1/2 – 1 cup fresh green beans, cut
- 2/3 cup barley
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 cups water
Chop vegetables and place meat on top. Wait. Eat. Enjoy.
B’tayavon and Shabbat Shalom
In this Parsha, Esau comes from the field and he is faint. Rashi says that he was faint from committing murder: כי עיפה נפשי להורגים (Jeremiah 4:31). He tells Yakov to pour him some of the red pottage because he is faint. Yakov was cooking red lentils because his grandfather Avraham had died that day. Rashi explains that Avraham’s life was shortened by five years so that שלא יראה את עשו בן בנו יוצא לתרבות רעה — he would not have the grief of seeing his grandson falling into bad ways. But then he asks – why lentils? Rashi explains that they are round like a wheel and mourning “is like a wheel revolving in the world.” He also explains that lentils do not have a mouth or opening like other beans do. The mourner is like without a mouth as he is prohibited from speaking. That’s where the custom to feed mourner eggs comes from – they are round and have no mouth. From Mo’ed Katan (21b), it states that for the first three days of the mourning period, the person should not respond or initiate greetings. From the third to seventh days he can respond but not greet.
This week’s recipe is so obvious but how can I resist? Think of all those challenging Parshas about the Mishkan (tabernacle) that I struggled to find recipes for last year. Once in a while a recipe just calls out to you from the Chumash! So here it is…
UPDATE: Update: I tried a new lentil recipe and it’s so awesome I have to post the recipe. It’s called Egyptian Lentil Soup and I found it at Food.com. I made it tonight and it’s just so delicious. Much better than the regular red lentil soup pictured below. My dh tried this tonight and said, ‘this is restaurant soup!’
Egyptian Lentil Soup
- 5 cups vegetable broth or 5 cups water
- 1 cup dried red lentils
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 2 cups chopped potatoes
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- Add the first 5 ingredients to a large pot; cover and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the lentils and veggies are tender.
- Take pot from stove burner and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, add the oil; warm over low heat until the oil is hot but not smoking.
- Add in the cumin, turmeric, and salt; cook and stir constantly for for 2-3 minutes or until the cumin has released its fragrance (be careful not to scorch the spices).
- Set spice mixture aside for 1 minute to cool.
- Stir spice mixture into the lentil mixture; add cilantro, stir to combine.
- You can puree the soup, in batches, in a blender OR you can use an immersion blender and blend to desired texture (I like to leave it a little chunky).
- Add in lemon juice; stir to combine.
- Rewarm soup in soup pot; season if needed with salt/pepper.
Read more at: http://www.food.com/recipe/egyptian-red-lentil-soup-94673#?oc=linkback
Genesis 25:34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and a pottage of lentils, and he ate and drank and arose and left.
Regular Red Lentil Soup
- 2 cup dried red lentils
- 3 zuchinni, peeled
- 3 carrots, peeled
- 2 chopped onions
- 1 chopped potato
- 4 chopped cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- salt and pepper
- water to 2″ above vegetables
Cook 40 minutes and puree.