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Parshat Noach

Among other items, this Parsha includes the famous story of Noach, the ark, and the rainbow. As it says in Bereishit/Genesis 9:13.

אֶת קַשְׁתִּי נָתַתִּי בֶּעָנָן וְהָיְתָה לְאוֹת בְּרִית בֵּינִי וּבֵין הָאָרֶץ

My rainbow I have placed in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Myself and the earth.

Bereishit 9:13 My rainbow I have placed in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Myself and the earth.

Bereishit 9:13 My rainbow I have placed in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Myself and the earth.

“Keshet B’anan” literally means a ‘bow’ in the ‘cloud.’ Many Meforshim (commentators) explain that the word ‘keshet’ throughout Tanach (Bible) means ‘bow’ as a weapon. Ramban points out that it lacks a bowstring and that the shape points Heavenward, showing that God will not aim it at us again.

Rav Amnon Bazak points out that the word קֶּשֶׁת keshet in the Parsha is not mentioned without עָנָן cloud and this combination of words is mentioned three times in Parshat Noach. He explains the combination of the bow with the cloud signifies the covenant. Since clouds throughout Tanach are mentioned as a screen, the bow is hiding in the cloud. Rav Bazak explains that Hashem is covering one of His weapons, like “returning a sword to its scabbard,” and His promise is that the bow will be ‘covered’ and will not be used against all flesh.

This week’s recipe is a rainbow-inspired spinach salad.

Bereishit 9:26 And it shall come to pass, when I cause clouds to come upon the earth, that the rainbow will appear in the cloud.

Bereishit 9:26 And it shall come to pass, when I cause clouds to come upon the earth, that the rainbow will appear in the cloud.

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Rainbow Spinach Salad

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 package spinach, washed, checked, and cut
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 1/2 orange pepper (use carrots if you’re stuck)
  • 1/3 cup red tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup blueberries,
  • 1/2 cup snow peas, cut in half, (if you have avocado that would be delicious)

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup red wine vinegar (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Lay out the salad ingredients in order the colour wheel. Mix dressing ingredients well and dress right before serving.

Enjoy!

B’tayavon and Shabbat Shalom.

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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 Naso

When the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was finally dedicated on the first day of the month of Nissan, the heads of each of the Shvatim (tribes)  together brought six covered wagons and twelve oxen to help transport the Mishkan

According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe: there is an important lesson to be learned from this. The nation of Israel is comprised of twelve different tribes, each of which is distinguished by unique characteristics, each bringing its own distinct contribution to the fulfillment of its spiritual mission. We also recognize that although we were blessed with something that our fellow tribes might not have, “it is they who provide us with what we lack.”

 Half a wagon is useless—we must combine our gifts in order to have something with which to transport the “Tent of Meeting” in our journey through the spiritual desert that is our material world. And while we may perhaps be able to produce a complete “ox” by our own efforts, it takes two oxen to pull our common wagon.

Here’s a recipe to commemorate the six ‘Agalot’  (wagons) that were brought by the twelve tribal chieftains in honour of the dedication of the Mishkan.

Wagon Wheel Pasta with Basil 

Bamidbar/Numbers 7:3: They brought their offering before the Lord: six covered wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon for each two chieftains, and an ox for each one; they presented them in front of the Mishkan.

Bamidbar/Numbers 7:3: They brought their offering before the Lord: six covered wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon for each two chieftains, and an ox for each one; they presented them in front of the Mishkan.

This is a very casual recipe so amounts do not need to be exact.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Wagon Wheel pasta, cooked
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh basil,
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoon pine nuts, crushed
  • handful of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • salt, pepper, and soy sauce to taste

Directions:

While basil is soaking in soapy water (to remove bugs) sautee onions in olive oil. Add garlic and then chopped basil, pine nuts and tomatoes. Toss with pasta and add seasoning.

Enjoy!

B’tayavon and Shabbat Shalom!

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Parshat Chayei Sarah

This week’s Parsha offers the story of Avraham’s servant Eliyahu searching for a ‘shidduch’ for Yitzchak. Eliezer asks God for a sign that Yitzchak’s intended should display chessed by offering him to drink. As soon as Elizer arrives in Nachor, he immediately meets Rivka, whose kindness and modesty goes above and beyond his test. They return to Rivka’s house and by the next morning, the deal is sealed and he begins his journey with Rivka back to Avraham.

The story is not a long one but is told in tremendous detail – 67 p’sukim to be exact. Chazal were puzzled by the amount of space devoted to this interaction, given that the wording of the Torah is usually so economical. One of the answers is found in Breishit Rabbah 60:

The conversation of the patriarch’s servants is superior to the Torah of the descendants” 

That poses a further question though. Is the everyday conversation of the Avot actually more significant than the Torah and its law? Rav Kook answers this.

These ‘conversations’ of the Avot (patriarchs) were also a form of Torah. This Torah was more elevated than the later Torah of their descendants, as it reflected the extraordinary holiness and nobility of these spiritual giants. Rav Kook explains that the reason Chazal referred to their words as ‘conversations’ was because that’s a term that refers to natural speech. He writes that

“the Torah of the Avot was like a conversation, flowing naturally from the inner sanctity of their lives and aspirations. Holy ideals permeated the day-to-day world of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to such a degree that these ideals were manifest even in the everyday discourse of their servants.”

The Torah of their descendants, on the other hand, lacks this natural spontaneity. It is a more conscious process that’s dependent on law to control all aspects of our lives. So the words and deeds of the Avot and Imahot are like living Torah, inspirational, and beloved by Hashem.

This week’s recipe is related to Eliezer’s deed in relation to negotiating for Rivkah’s hand in marriage. It says in Genesis  24:53. And the servant took out silver articles and golden articles and garments, and he gave [them] to Rebecca, and he gave delicacies to her brother and to her mother.

This was clearly a disappointment to Lavan, Rivkah’s brother. According to Rashi these delicacies refer to sweet fruits (מְגָדִים), that Eliezer had brought with him from the Land of Israel.

Since the most well-known fruit export from Israel is the orange I’ve chosen a recipe incorporating oranges.

Genesis 24:53 And the servant took out silver articles and golden articles and garments, and he gave them to Rivka, and he gave delicacies (fruit) to her brother and to her mother.

Citrus Spinach Salad

  • spinach
  • red onion, sliced
  • sliced oranges or canned mandarins
  • handful of soy nuts

Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons Dijon salad
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix and dress salad right before serving.

B’tayavon and have a great Shabbos!

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Parshat Bahalotcha – June 9, 2012

This Parsha begins with God telling Moshe how Aaron should light the seven lamps of the Menorah casting their light toward the face of the Menorah.

Bamidbar 8:4 This was the form of the menorah: hammered work of gold, from its base to its flower it was hammered work; according to the form that the Lord had shown Moses, so did he construct the menorah.

A short description follows of the Menorah. Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch gives a detailed description of the construction and symbolism of the Menorah. The general shape of the Menorah is a tree-like shape and is built from hammered gold. It includes elements of a flower: stems, buds, and flowers.

 Dr. Russell Jay Hendel, writing an explanation of Rav Hirsch sums up the significance of these three elements:

The (a) stem, (b) bud, and (c) flower have as their functions (a) the
gathering of nutrients (b) the embryonic outline of further plant parts (c) reproduction.
In the intellectual-spiritual-emotional sphere this would correspond to (a) raw knowledge
and exposure to an item, (b) intuitive feel and familiarity with an item, (c) an ingrained
reproducible habit.

Bamidbar 8;4 This was the form of the menorah hammered work of gold, from its base to its flower

Spinach Salad with Edible Flowers

Where does one find edible flowers? I happened to find these at the awesome supermarket Pomegranate (definitely the kosher answer to Whole Foods) while visiting New York last week. To be completely honest, the flowers have no taste. But they do look fantastic, so who cares??

  • 1 package spinach
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • mung sprouts
  • 6 strawberries, sliced

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian spices
  • 1/4 teaspoon basil
  • 3/4 cup oil

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