Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Flashmob hits Jerusalem Light Rail . . . singing Hatikvah beautifully

I'm with Reesa on this one--this brought tears to my eyes.  Thanks for the link.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Festival food fun

Bakery baked goods
Hear ye, hear ye, all those who live within commuting distance of New York City and are gluten-free, run, do not walk, to By the Way Bakery for kosher parve Yom Tov treats.  Apparently, they've finally figured out that many of their customers are not only kashrut-observant but also interested in traditional Jewish baked goods, and are now making Jewish specialties (albeit only Ashkenazi ones, thus far).  We bought a package of rugelach and a gluten-free-oat challah, and I'm dying to try them on Erev Sukkot.  The owner was there last Sunday, encouraging people to try everything and answering questions, and assured me that she'd cleared everything with their mashgiach (kashrut supervisor)--the challah's b'rachah is ha-motzi, and the eggs are checked, she told me.  According to the package, it's also Pat Yisrael and a few other things that I can't read because the Hebrew's written without vowels, but I'll transliterate as best I can without n'kudot:  challah nfreshet, ha-betzim n'vadak, lo apah b'shabbat viveit (vav yod vav yod yod tet).

Homemade baked goods
I haven't had honey cake since becoming gluten-sensitive, so when I found a recipe that might "pass," I gave it a try.  This is straight from Breaking the Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet's "bible"), page 131 in the edition that we own, where it's called Peanut Butter Brownies, but I think it would be better described as a blondie, since it contains no chocolate.

~ 1 cup peanut butter with no additives, or almond butter--I use almond butter, which would make these blondies kosher for Passover even for us crazy Ashkenazim who don't eat kitniot
~ 1/2 cup honey
~ 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
~ 1 egg

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.  (My son says I should really use my electric beater to break up any lumps in the almond butter.  I hate to clean that stupid thing, but he's probably right.)  Pour into a well-buttered 8-inch-square pan.  (I use coconut oil to keep the blondies parve--will look for nut oil for Pesach, as I've never seen kosher-for-Passover coconut oil.)  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 Celsius) for about 25-30 minutes, removing from oven when nicely browned.  Cool slightly, then turn out of pan and cut into squares.

These blondies tasted better on the second day of Rosh Hashanah than they'd tasted on the first night, so you might want to make them a bit in advance, if possible.  They're mildly sweet.

And by the way, since the b'rachah (blessing) for these blondies is sheh-ha-kol, you might get a Sukkot bonus--according to some opinions, one is permitted to eat sheh-hakol foods outside of a Sukkah.

Bonus:  Stove-top "Cheater's" Tzimmes recipe


Chag Sameach!

Comments to my previous post would be welcome.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Concerning vows: A pre-Yom-Kippur post


Orthodox Jew to Orthodox Jew:  "I haven't been able to get to synagogue lately, so I'd better get there early on Yom Kippur so I can do Hatarat N'darim."

I'm 66 years old, but, until I heard this conversation a few days ago, I'd never heard of Hatarat N'darim.

Naturally, I looked it up on the Internet, learning that it meant The Formal Annulment of Vows, and even found an English translation.

So let me get this straight:  Not only have I been sinning all my life without knowing it, I've never had my sins "annulled" in any way other than listening to the Kol Nidrei (All Vows) prayer on Erev Yom Kippur (Eve of the Day of Atonement).

I don't get it.

When it came to the biblical law regarding the rebellious son (no mention of a daughter) who was to be put to death, the rabbis of the Talmud interpreted it out of existence.

Yet, on the subject of vows, even though the Torah ShehBichtav (Written Torah) itself clearly states  that it's better to avoid making a vow than to break one (I forget where in the Torah I read this--please lend a hand), the rabbis went in exactly the opposite direction with their interpretation, making it almost impossible for any Jew not to make a vow.

I honestly don't understand why the rabbis of old seem to have gone out of their way, even contradicting the p'shat (literal meaning) of the Torah, to make sinners of us all.


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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A word in favor of Channah's manner of prayer

Call me easily distracted and I'll plead guilty as charged, but I find it all too easy to lose my place in a prayer book when someone prays aloud.  As stated in the haftarah for the morning of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, when Channah prayed, only her lips moved--she could not be heard.  Davvening/praying shouldn't be a competition--if silent prayer was good enough for the mother of the prophet Shmuel/Samuel, it's good enough for me.

Friday, September 11, 2015

" . . . mi va-eish (who by fire) . . . " (repost)

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

What to say when: Accumulated information (annual re-post)

"Here's some information concerning prayers and other rituals that I've picked up, and written down, over the years in an attempt to allay my own confusion. Perhaps it'll help some of my readers, as well.  Yes, I've posted this before, but a rerun right before Rosh HaShanah never hurts."

Here you are.

Fall Holidays section:

Services on Yamim Noraim and Shalosh R’galim (and other information re rituals)
  • Yaaleh V'Yavo is for all major holidaysincluding Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur in addition to the Shalosh R’galim (Yom Tov and Chol HaMoed) and Rosh Chodesh. October 2, 2008 update:  Yaaleh v’Yavo is said during the Amidah of not only Shacharit, but also of Minchah and Arvit/Maariv.
  • October 2, 2008 update:  The Malchuyot, Zichronot, and Shofarot sections of the Musaf Amidah are recited on Rosh HaShanah only (not on Yom Kippur). Mnemonic device for remembering the correct order:  HaMelech Zocher et haShofar (The King Remembers the Shofar).
  • October 18, 2011 update:  Yom Kippur’s “Long” Vidui/Confessional (“Ah Chet”) is recited for the last time during Minchah.  Only the “Short” Vidui/Confessional (“Ashamnu”) is recited during Neilah.
  • October 18, 2011 update:  The Neilah Service includes not only a full Amidah, but also a Chazarat HaShaTz (repetition of the Amidah by the ShaTz/Shaliach Tzibbur). I can’t think of any logical halachic reason for even reciting the Amidah at Neilah, much less repeating it, since there was no sacrifice at that time of day, but I can think of a good logistical one—it’s a great time-killer, which is necessary in order to delay end of the service until well after sunset, when one is permitted to blow the shofar.
From the comments to this post:
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...
I believe (without a source to back me up) that the 5 amidot of Yom Kippur correspond to the 5 immersions of the Kohain Gadol that day. An immersion happened every time he changed vestments, and IIRC each of those changes were related to something sacrificial - whether clearing ashes from the alter, perfoming the two daily sacrifices, the special sacrifices for YK, the ritual of the two goats (which involved sacrificing one of them, etc.).

Again all this is form memory, so I may have some details wrong.
  • Amidah for Rosh Chodesh and Chol HaMoed
    • Shacharit, Mincha, and Maariv/Arvit (Nov. 2, 2011 update)—regular weekday or Shabbat version, to which one adds Yaaleh V’Yavo.
    • Musaf—Rosh Chodesh or Shalosh R’galim version (each of which includes Shabbat additions).
    • During the Amidah prayer of the Maariv/Arvit/Evening Services that mark the end of the first day(s) of Yom Tov and the beginning of Chol HaMoed, one recites Atah Chonantanu, after which one is permitted to do necessary work during Chol HaMoed.
  • October 22, 2008 update:  On Chanukah and Sukkot, including Chol HaMoed Sukkot, Hallel is always Full Hallel—there’s never a Half-Hallel during Sukkot or Chanukah. September 18, 2009 update:  Hallel is not recited on the Yamim Noraim.
  • Aliyot
    • Shabbat:
      • If Rosh Chodesh, any of the Yamim Noraim, or any of the Shalosh R’galim, including Chol HaMoed, fall on Shabbat, they always have the 7 aliyot that are standard on Shabbat.
    • Weekdays:
      • Rosh Chodesh and Chol HaMoed—4;
      • Shalosh R’galim and Rosh HaShanah—5;
      • Yom Kippur—6.
  • October 2, 2008 update:  Tashlich is recited on the first day of Rosh HaShanah (if possible), unless the first day falls on Shabbat (in which case it’s delayed until the second day).
  • October 18, 2011:  I think I overhead [my husband] confirming with Cantor [X] that the Hoshanot of Sukkot and Hoshana Rabbah can only be recited if one has a minyan.  (Is this true?  Today's [Sept 22, 2014] update:  It's probably true--I've since heard this from other reliable sources, including an Orthodox rabbi who works in the organization that employs me.)
  • October 19, 2011 update:  Hoshana ends with the letter Aleph, while Rabbah ends with the letter Hay, so, according to the rules of transliteration (such as they are), Hoshana should not be written with an H at the end, but Rabbah should be written with an H at the end.
  • April 8, 2012 (post-havdalah) correction:
    • For the 1st 2 days of the Shalosh R'galim Sukkot, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is Leviticus 22:26-23:44, from Parshat Emor (leave the corners of the field for the poor; commandments re lulav and etrog, sukkah, etc.). 
    • For Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is Sh'mot/Exodus 33:12-34:26, from Parshat Ki Tisa.
    • For Hoshana Rabbah, the reading is B'midbar/Numbers 29:26-34, from Parshat Pinchas (the source of all maftir readings for Shalosh R'galim and the Yamim Noraim).
    • For Sh'mini Atzeret, the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is D'varim/Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17, from Parshat R’eh (same reading as on 8th/last day of Pesach and 2nd/last day of Shavuot, if they fall on Shabbat).  (“V’samachta b’chagecha…”).
    • For Simchat Torah (the 2nd day of Sh'mini Atzeret in Galut/the Diaspora), the reading from the 1st Torah scroll is D'varim/Deuteronomy 33-34, which is the entire Parshat V'Zot HaTorah; the reading from the 2nd Torah scroll is B'reshit/Genesis 1-2:3, the beginning of Parshat B'reshit.
. . .


. . .

And now for something completely different:  HOSHANA RABBAH
In addition to doing seven Hoshanot, as opposed to the usual one Hoshana, and beating the aravot/willows:
  • We use the the Shabbat and Yom Tov version of P’suké D’zimra, rather than the weekday (Chol) version.  October 18, 2011 update (thanks to Larry Lennhoff’s comment here:  We do say Mizmor L’Todah, which we usually don’t say on Shabbat or Yom Tov, but we don’t say the Shabbat and Yom Tov section starting with Nishmat Kol Chai and concluding with U-v’makalot—we continue the service again at Yishtabach.
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...
Re Hoshana Rabba: We actually do a synthesis of the weekday and Yom Tov pesukei d'zimra. In particular, we say Mizmor L'Todah, which we don't say on Yom Tov.

Hoshanna Rabba is a last chance Yom Kippur which is why the baal Musaf wears a kittle and we say kadosh v'norah shemo as we do on YK. We also use the nusach of YK in various places.
  • We use the Shabbat and Yom Tov version of Seder Hotzaat HaTorah, rather than the weekday (Chol) version.
  • We recite “Adoshem, adoshem kél rachum v’chanun” as we do on Yom Tov, rather than omitting it as we would usually do during Chol HaMoed.  October 2, 2008 update:  I think this prayer is only recited if there’s a minyan.
  • During Seder Hotzaat haTorah, we recite “kadosh V’NORAH sh’mo.”
  • The baal tefillah wears a kittel during Musaf.
  • We recite the Musaf K’dushah for Yom Tov, not the one for Chol haMoed.
  • We sing Ein Kelokénu and Adon Olam.  (Is this an optional minhag?)
  • Some have the minhag to recite HaShem Ori V’Yishi for the last time of that Yamim Noraim season at the Shacharit of Hoshana Rabbah.  I don’t know what the alternate custom is.  October 2, 2008 update:  I think the alternative custom is to recite HaShem Ori V’Yishi for the last time of that Yamim Noraim season at the Shacharit of Shemini Atzeret.
  • October 18, 2011 update:  I think I overhead [my husband] confirming with Cantor [X] that the Hoshanot of Sukkot and Hoshana Rabbah can only be recited if one has a minyan.
  • October 19, 2011 update:  Hoshana ends with the letter Aleph, while Rabbah ends with the letter Hay, so, according to the rules of transliteration (such as they are), Hoshana should not be written with an H at the end, but Rabbah should be written with an H at the end.

I have heard people wish one another a “good kvittle.”  Even Rabbi [X] doesn’t know what that means.  I guess I’ll just have to swallow the old pride—time to admit to ignorance and ask.  October 2, 2008 update:  I’ve heard that a kvittle is what some people call those little notes that one leaves in the cracks of the Kotel, or, for those who believe in doing such a thing, at the grave of a tzaddik—personally, I’m not fund of the custom of asking the dead to intervene for me in heaven, since I think that praying through the dead, as it were, is a bit pagan.) 
October 18, 2011 update, quoting JDub’s comment here:
Anonymous jdub said...
. . . Nope, nothing to do with it. A kvitl is a piece of writing. So, a good kvittel means the same as "may you be inscribed in the book of life". And, technically, it would be a gut kvittel since it's a yiddish expression.

From: [me]
To: [deleted]
Subject: Halachic head-scratcher (as in, "Huh?!")
Date: Friday, October 17, 2003 3:00 PM

According to one of my co-workers, it's assur (prohibited) for Jews (in her community, this probably refers to men only) to eat any foods requiring a blessing "fancier" (higher in halachic status?) than "shehakol" during Sukkot unless they're eating in a sukkah, which would pretty much limit me to tuna and chocolate for lunch.  (Any excuse for chocolate will do :).)  [My husband] tells me that one of his frummer colleagues from his Federal gov't days would simply not eat at all if there were no sukkah available.  Talk about conflicting halachot,

  a.. how on earth can you possible "rejoice in your festival" ("v'samachta b'chagecha") when you're fasting,
  b.. and isn't it assur/forbidden to fast on a Yom Tov?
(My perception is that Yom Kippur is the exception that confirms both rules.)

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Ms. Kitchen Klutz is relearning to cook

Given that my 73-year-old husband's full retirement will probably occur within the next few years, and that I'll be eligible for "maximum" Social Security in less than four years--after I reach the age of 70, anything I earn won't add to the amount I'll receive in my monthly Social Security check--we've concluded that the good old days of take-out and frequent restaurant forays are over.  One good thing about my brief time on the Specific Carb Diet was that it forced me to cook all of my own food--I became fairly adept at making basic broiled burgers (beef and ground turkey) and salmon, as well as chicken soup (though it's really bland, since I have to fish out the onion before I eat it).  And last Sunday, I roasted a chicken for the first time in so many years it's embarrassing.

Any super-basic recipes would be appreciated.  Please keep in mind that garlic and I are no longer on speaking terms, and that a close family member can't eat herbs or spices, so when I say "super-basic," well, you get the picture--I made the chicken using nothing but lemon juice (half a lemon for the whole bird) and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Here's a challenge for the cooks among you--I have a never-used crock pot, which I've never used because I need a recipe that doesn't include onion, garlic, white potatoes, tomatoes, beans, wheat, barley, herbs, spices, or sugar.  (Wheat products, which I can't eat, include pasta, flour, bread, croutons, breadcrumbs, matzah, matzah farfel, matzah meal, etc.)  Can you think of anything I could slow-cook that would taste half-decent without any of those ingredients?  Gluten-free grains such as brown rice, kasha, and quinoa would be fine.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

I hope to hear from you, if you haven't all gotten bored waiting for a new post and given up reading my blog.
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