This week on “You’re Asking Me?” we attempt to answer an age-old question.
What is the origin of the custom to eat Seudah Shlishis in shul?
That’s a great question. It’s definitely not because it’s unimportant. In fact, Seudah Shlishis (pronounced “Shalashudiss”), is just as important as the other two meals – maybe more so. Case in point, it’s pronounced “Shalashudiss” (“3 meals”) even though you barely eat enough for one. If your wife made a supper like this on a regular night, you’d probably say, “Nah, I’ll see if they have anything to eat in shul.”
And if someone invited you for Seudah Shlishis and you didn’t know what it was, you’d be pretty insulted when you got there – cold gefilte fish from last night, egg salad from this morning, and a half a jar of herring. It’s like the guy said, “You want to come help me clean out my fridge?” In fact, this might be why the rabbis called it “shalosh seudos” and said that eating it is equivalent to eating the other two meals combined – because it’s actually made up of the other two meals combined. And if you can muscle through it, you show Hashem that you’re really just eating for the mitzvah.
But then why don’t we eat it at home? There are several possible reasons:
1. There’s no time to get home, eat, and then get back again. And you’re not going to run all the way home for tuna.
2. Most people just pick at their Seudah Shlishis, especially in the winter. We just finished lunch. But our wives get offended if we do this at home, as they were slaving away in the kitchen all week. But when you pick at your food in shul, no one’s offended. They just put it back in the fridge and it comes out again the next week. This is why sponsoring Seudah Shlishis is not that expensive. Basically, we eat in shul to hide the fact that we’re not eating. We basically just sit there and sing songs to pass the time until Maariv.
3. Maybe guys actually want to eat all 3 meals in shul, but you know what your wife will do to you if you told her you were going out for lunch? You sort of do, if you’ve ever eaten too much at a kiddush and then came home and attempted to fake your way through lunch. So one out of the 3 is a compromise.
Are there any Jewish record holders?
Not in sports. The Jewish records are where you’d expect them to be: in food. For example, Empire Kosher recently unveiled the world’s largest chicken nugget at Kosherfest – the world’s biggest kosher industry trade show (another food record), where people go to unveil new products, mostly in the form of small samples, and attendees go from booth to booth, sampling products. It’s like the world’s biggest kiddush, except that you don’t have to come home and fake your way through lunch afterward.
And it’s not just food products. Put the word “kosher” in front of anything, and they’ll let you into Kosherfest. For example, one booth had a product called “kosher diapers.” This is a real thing.
But what kind of hashgacha do they have? Do I need separate diapers for meat and dairy?
So I looked at the packaging, and it turns out that they’re made to be used on Shabbos, because a lot of people don’t want to use diapers that have tape. So instead this one has Velcro, and you don’t have to worry about ripping off the tape on Shabbos. You know, because the diaper is going to fall off by itself. Maybe we should give the baby a belt to wear over it, just in case. Or suspenders. But I guess Velcro is a great alternative to what people have been doing, which is leaving the diaper on all day and ruining everyone’s oneg Shabbos. This is why men started eating Seudah Shlishis in shul.
But anyway, the biggest draw this year was Empire’s booth, which featured the world’s largest chicken nugget, measuring almost 4 inches across.
No, I’m just kidding, although that probably would have won. They actually went all out, and made it 3.25 feet long and 2 feet wide – the size of 720 regular chicken nuggets. It’s also encased in 2 ½ pounds of breading, which is more than an entire loaf of bread. Altogether, it weighs 51 pounds. They needed two people to lift it.
I guess they take this nugget around to all the different food shows, and it’s becoming kind of their mascot. Like Big Bird.
Of course, the question you’re thinking, other than “Why?” is “What makes this a huge chicken nugget and not just a pretty big chicken cutlet?”
Fortunately, there were two people standing near the nugget to make sure it didn’t fall on anyone or eat any of the other displays, and also to answer questions like, “Is this a sample?” and “Who’s going home with this at the end of the day? Is there gonna be a raffle?”
So I asked my question, because I’m an intrepid reporter who strives to bring you the facts, especially if they involve giant chicken nuggets.
The way it was explained to me is that a nugget is broken down and then put back together, whereas a cutlet is just a piece of a chicken. And good luck finding a chicken that big. “Largest chicken cutlet” would mean that you first need the world’s largest chicken, which would have to weigh at least 51 pounds without bones in one quarter. You’d think that would have made the news first. Especially since the average chicken weighs about 5 pounds total, and is optimally designed to be lifted over your head with one hand while holding a machzor.
What should we do for mid-winter vacation?
I don’t remember this being an issue when I was a kid. I don’t remember my school ever giving off for mid-winter vacation. I always went to the kind of school that basically gave off on a Sunday. One year we also had a Friday off. I never even noticed it. I thought my parents just forgot to bring me one Sunday. And I wasn’t going to say anything.
But mid-winter vacation is an especially big issue this year, because we have an especially long winter. Rosh Hashanah was insanely early, and we have at least 3 or 4 Adars.
So there are actually a few schools of thought on the topic:
There’s a school of thought that says that you should go somewhere warm, because it’s the winter, and you need a vacation from the cold, even if it means digging around to find your summer clothes and changing in mid-flight. (Those airline bathrooms are great for changing.)
But then there’s a school of thought that you should go somewhere cold, because you can always go somewhere warm in the summer. When else are you going to go skiing? Skiing is expensive enough, considering gravity is basically doing all the work.
And then there’s the school of thought that just because the kids have no school, does that mean they need a vacation? They’re on vacation. They’re home. You know who needs a vacation? You do. All winter long, you’re doing carpools or staying home with a sick kid every other day, because all they seem to pick up in school is ear infections, and now the school wants you to just take your kids all day? And you have to take off of work for this? So maybe you should go on vacation.
Seriously. Just leave the kids home with a 51-pound chicken nugget. Perhaps instead of a babysitter. They’ll be fine. They’ll be thrilled. They’ve got chicken, 2.5 pounds of bread crumbs, and ketchup. It’s about as balanced as anything they’re going to eat on vacation anyway.
Got a Question for “You’re Asking Me?” I kind of have my hands full right now. 51 pounds. It’s going to be the weirdest Shalashudiss ever.Mordechai Schmutter
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