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The Edible Torah

 

Archive for the ‘Shabbat Themes’ Category

Shabbat Chayay Sarah (Gen. 23:1-25:18)

The portion with the title Chayay Sarah – “The Life of Sarah” begins, somewhat inexplicably, with Sarah’s death. If you are reading Torah as a novel (which is possible in Bereshit), Sarah’s demise is as sudden and unexpected as it is tragic. Up until now, our heroes have gone from success to success – blazing trails, speaking to God on mountains, fighting the armies of 5 almost single-handedly, staging daring rescues and cunning deceits. They appear to be able to do no wrong.

It is after perhaps the most incredible adventure of them all – where Isaac escapes sacrifice at his father’s hand mere seconds before the blade falls – that we “discover” Sarah’s passing.

The key, perhaps, is what Sarah’s absence forces Abraham to do: settle down. No more armies or rescues, no more wandering, and in fact, no more speaking with God, either.

In a beautiful bit of insight published in The Women’s Torah Commentary, Rabbi Rona Shapiro notes:

“Perhaps, then, this parashah is called Chaye Sarah, “the life of Sarah,” because with Sarah’s death, Abraham finally learns to live her life; he comes down from the mountain and becomes a man of the heart, a man who cares for his family members and lives out his life on a human plane. He learns to find truth and meaning within the context of his family, in marrying off his son, in raising children, in the small acts of daily kindness that make life holy. Abraham learns that God is not enthroned in heaven, but that God sits wherever human beings let God into their lives…”

SO… limited only by your creativity and the category of food assigned, please bring feminine (or perhaps feminist) food.


Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.

Shabbat Noah (Gen. 6:9 – 11:32)

Courtesy of Julie Seltzer and MyJewishLearning.com

The tale of Noah, like all truly great stories, is simple and also deceptively complex. Along with the many layers of the story, there is – I discovered this year – actually TWO versions competing for your attention.

In one version, the world had become corrupt, but Noah “seemed good in God’s eyes”. Noah takes seven pairs of animals onto a boat of undetermined size or dimension, and it rains for 40 days and nights. At the end of that time, Noah sends out a dove 3 times to test for dry ground. Once on land, Noah makes a sacrifice to God.

In the other version Noah is righteous in his age and is said to have walked with God. Noah builds his ark to exact specifications, and brings just one pair of each kind of animal onto it with him and his family. The flood comes and lasts 150 days, until God remembers Noah. The waters recede and the ark lands on Mt. Ararat. Noah sends out a raven, which flew until the waters dried on the land.

These stories are far from separate as they appear in Torah however. Almost line by line they go back and forth in a kind of biblical tug of war; or perhaps they are meant to wash over us like waves coming in from two directions, bathing us in meaning and possibility.

SO… limited only by your creativity, please bring “interwoven foods”.


Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.

Shabbat Beresheet (Gen. 1:1-6:8)

Courtesy of Julie Seltzer and MyJewishLearning.com

 

“Turn it, and turn it over again, for everything is in it, and contemplate it, and wax gray and old over it, and stir not from it, for thou canst have no better rule than this.” – Rabbi Ben Bag Bag

You do the hokey pokey and you turn the scroll around…” – Rachel Barenblat

It’s one of those few portions that needs no introduction, since it IS the introduction. Take a moment to dive into Torah, read the portion

Limited only by your creativity and the category of food assigned, bring something that represents, reflects or references one of the days of creation.

ited only by your creativity and the category of food assigned, please bring something that is for – or like – one of the Ushpizin.


Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.

Shabbat Sukkot

This coming Friday we will celebrate Sukkot along with Shabbat. One of the traditions is to welcome a member of the “Ushpizin”, or honored guests, into your sukkah – one for each night of sukkot.

The honored guests are traditionally Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Moses and Aaron; and Joseph and David.

More recently noteable Jewish women have been added – women who either compliment their male counterparts or stand on their own – Sarah, Rebeccah, Leah and Rachel; Miriam; Abigail and Esther.

Each of these honored and esteemed guests have traits and virtues that the family hopes will visit their house along with the guest.

Tradition tells us that each of the seven overcame an obstacle and maintained their faith: Abraham left all that he knew and settled in a foreign land; Isaac overcame famine and forged alliances; Jacob escaped his brother’s anger and fathered the 12 tribes; Joseph turned adversity (being sold into slavery) into the very thing that saved his people (avoiding starvation); Moses led the Israelites out of slavery and through the desert for 40 years; Aaron was the first high priest and beloved of the people; and David survived war and court intrigue to usher an era of relative peace so that the Temple could be built.

SO… limited only by your creativity and the category of food assigned, please bring something that is for – or like – one of the Ushpizin.


Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.

Ha’Azinu (Deuteronomy 32:1 – 32:52)

Courtesy of Julie Seltzer and MyJewishLearning.com

In the portion this week, Moses teaches the song (or poem, depending on how you interpret it) to the Israelites, the one that describes what is going to happen to them (entering the land, turning away from God, getting clobbered with curses, returning to God generations later).

This song is intended to be a lifeline to that future generation, the instruction that will tell them – when they are ready – that they can return to God and how exactly to do that.

It’s powerful stuff, and the words are moving even in translation:

Give ear, O heavens, let me speak;
Let the earth hear the words I utter!
May my discourse come down as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
Like showers on young growth,
Like droplets on the grass.
For the name of the Lord I proclaim;
Give glory to our God!

But in order for the future generation to have these words as an instruction, Moses must first give it to the current generation and teach it until they commit it to memory. Only then can he be sure that the echo of his memory will still be heard years later.

SO… limited only by your creativity and the category of food we will assign (when you let us know if you can make it), please bring a food of the heart – something you know by heart, something hearty, something near and dear to your heart… or any other heartfelt interpretation!


Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.

Vayeilech (Deuteronomy 31:1 – 31:30)

Courtesy of Julie Seltzer and MyJewishLearning.com

We continue reading about Moses’ last day on earth, a tale that has taken up several parshiot – more (I think) than any other narrative arc in the Torah.

At the start of the portion this week, according to the JPS, Moses says: “I am now one hundred and twenty years old, I can no longer be active.”

Fox translates this line as: “A hundred and twenty years old am I today; I am no longer able to go-out and to come-in”

Either way, we are hearing about a man who recognizes he is nearing the end of his days.

SO… limited only by your creativity and the category of food which we will assign (when you let us know if you can join us), please bring a “twilight food”.


Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.

Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9 – 30:20)

Courtesy of Julie Seltzer and MyJewishLearning.com

Our Torah cycle and our year is drawing to a close, and like many people in the twilight of a cycle of time (whether it’s a year, a life or tv series), Moses reflects on a happier time, a time when the world was full of possibilities. Back to Mt. Sinai we go, when we received the 10 commandments and for one amazing moment everyone heard the voice of God. At that moment, we offered our children as guarentors of our covenant.

Then Moses realizes where the Israelites are now, and foretells of sadness, rebellion and retribution. (A modern analogy would be when we watched Fonzi jump the shark and realized it was truly all over.). Moses pleads with the Israelites not to forget the covenant, even as he knows what will surely follow.

So, limited only by your creativity and the category of food which you have been assigned, please bring a food which comes with a guarentee.


Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.

Ki Tavo(Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:8)

Courtesy of Julie Seltzer and MyJewishLearning.com


In subtle support of the month of Elul in which we read this portion, Torah offers thoughts which allow for self-reflection, corrective action, and a return to our roots.

Moses gives instructions how the Israelites should mark our entrance to the Land, how offerings and tithes are meant to support not just the religious framework of society (the Levites) but also the disadvantaged. The tribes go up opposing mountains and listen to Moses recite blessings and curses, to which they respond "Amen!". Finally, Moses underscores all the laws (from the last 3 portions at least) with the reminder of the miracles and wonders everyone had seen and experienced since Egypt, and a hint of what was to come in the new Land.

However, the inspiration for our theme this week comes from the very beginning. Ki Tavo begins this week with the words:

"When you enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a heritage, and you possess it and settle in it, you shall take some of every first fruit of the soil, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God will choose to establish His name." (26:1-2)

SO… limited only by your creativity and the category of food assigned, please bring a "fruity" food.


Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.

Ki Teitzei (Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25:19)

Courtesy of Julie Seltzer and MyJewishLearning.com

This week Moses continues his detailing of the laws, and one caught my eye this year:

(21:15-17) If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him sons, but the first-born is the son of the unloved one — when he wills his property to his sons, he may not treat as first-born the son of the loved one in disregard of the son of the unloved one who is older. Instead, he must accept the first-born, the son of the unloved one, and allot to him a double portion of all he possesses; since he is the first fruit of his vigor, the birthright is his due.

Clearly Moses wasn’t paying attention during Bereshit/Genesis!

…Or was he?

In thinking about this, what if the intention of this law, which so clearly goes against what our own Patriarchs and Matriarchs did, was a way of ensuring it never happened again? What if the point is "Abraham, Sarah, and the rest were righteous beyond measure – so much that we ask for God’s grace in their name. And even THEY screwed this up. So there really outta be a law, to keep our sorry butts in line."

SO… limited only by your creativity and the category of food assigned, please bring a food which reflects a way in which you learned from a past mistake.


Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.

Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9)

Courtesy of Julie Seltzer and MyJewishLearning.com

Parsha Shoftim deals a lot with the idea of equity, fairness, equality, and keeping Israelite society on an equal footing. It talks about how a king (should the Israelites choose one in the future) should behave and be guided; how to set up a court of law; how to deal with unsolved murders (this was before the days of "CSI: Jerusalem"); and more.

Most notable in this portion is the phrase "Tzedek, tzekek tirdof" (Justice, Justice shall you pursue – 16:20). To understand that comment in context, the full phrase is:

16:18 You shall appoint magistrates and officials for your tribes, in all the settlements that the Lord your God is giving you, and they shall govern the people with due justice. 19 You shall not judge unfairly: you shall show no partiality; you shall not take bribes, for bribes blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just. 20 Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

SO… limited only by your creativity and the category of food assigned, please bring a "judged food".


Not sure what this Torah portion is about? You can find a brief summary in The Edible Torah’s “Condensed Guide to the Weekly Torah Readings”. For more information on what The Edible Torah is all about, along with insight on how to set up a pot-luck Shabbat experience, check out “The Edible Torah”.