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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘fruit’

Fearing Holiness as Pesach Approaches

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The big 7-8 day Holiday is approaching. The one that seems to get people more uptight than happy (as they should be –Rambam, Laws of the Holidays, 6:17), to the extent that when you are actually brave enough to utter the word “PESACH,” it often feels like you’ve put people on edge.

These less than “30 days before the Holiday” offer us an opportunity to evaluate the above phenomenon, which seems to be more and more commonplace in our times.

It amazes me that Pesach comes just a month after Purim. More than anything, what makes Purim unique is that it is a day in which the edict that “one should become inebriated on Purim till one doesn’t distinguish between the curse of Haman to the blessing of Mordechai” proclaims it a day in which…everything goes, in which one has very loose – to non-existent – borders regarding what is permitted and what is forbidden. In a word, it’s a day in which the word “fear” seems to be put into a drawer for 24 hours, as we permit ourselves to do things otherwise unthinkable – in terms of what we wear, what we say, which jokes we crack, and of course, how much alcohol we allow ourselves to consume.

And then, right after the hangover passes, the costumes are put away for next year, and the last cookie from the “Mishloach Manot” is eaten, we get…fearful and nervous; just 30 days to clean the house, buy the (new and expensive) groceries, and cook for Pesach!

From too much courage to neurotic fear, and all this in two months!

Leaving aside how much one needs to clean for Pesach and how crazy one must get (based on the Torah’s dictates, without the “extra’s” of cleaning the windows as well…), I’d like to comment on just one point – the “fear” of it.

I believe that something has crept into the Religious Jewish community over the last few years that shouldn’t be there – our fear of holiness. Let’s introduce it with the following episode, usually read right after Purim in the weekly Torah reading (except in a leap-year). The Jewish people have just been forgiven for the elevated sin of the Golden Calf, and Moshe is coming down Mount Sinai…with one small change to his face:

29. And it came to pass when Moses descended from Mount Sinai, and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses’ hand when he descended from the mountain and Moses did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while He had spoken with him 30. that Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses and behold! the skin of his face had become radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.31. But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the princes of the community returned to him, and Moses would speak to them…..

Reading these verses, I would have thought it wonderful – the people behold Moshe looking holier than ever, and thus maintain their distance, knowing that they are not on the level. After all, we don’t just barge into a shul, open the ark and greet the Torah Scrolls with a “Hello Mate…,” nor do we ascend the Temple Mount without proper preparations! And so, the Jewish people recognize Moshe’s new, elevated radiance/holiness and keep their distance from his holiness.

But then we get to Rashi’s read, which offers a radically different interpretation:

and they were afraid to come near him: Come and see how great the power of sin is! Because when they had not yet stretched out their hands to sin [with the golden calf], what does He say? “And the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire atop the mountain, before the eyes of the children of Israel” (Exod. 24:17), and they were neither frightened nor quaking. But since they had made the calf, even from Moses’ rays of splendor they recoiled and quaked. (from Sifrei Nasso 11, Pesikta d’Rav Kahana, p. 45)

What forces Rashi to see the above in negative terms rather then the positive? Why not just applause the people for their reverence of holiness?

Seems to me that Rashi wants to give us a message: We dare not stay away from holiness. Quite the contrary – we should embrace it and try to get a “piece of it.”

Our Torah is full of commands to “be holy” (Vayikra 11:43-44, 19:2, 20:7), or “to be for me holy” (20:26)! Moreover, when the Torah commands that we shall go to “the place” in order to sacrifice and more, it adds the edict that “you shall inquire after His dwelling and come there” (Devarim 12:5). The Ramban explains (ad-loc) that “the reason for ‘you shall inquire after his dwelling’ is that you shall come from afar, and ask: ‘where is the house of God,’ and say to each other: ‘Let us ascend and go to the mountain of God to the house of the God of Jacob.’” In other words, according to this interpretation, we should not only be holy but should actually pursue it, seek it out, and make “an issue” of asking people how we can arrive at holiness.

Israeli Rabbinate Warns against Tu B’Shvat Figs

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

The Kashrut Dept. of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate published a warning on the eve of Tu B’Shvat, cautioning against eating some of the holiday’s traditional fruits. Figs are at the top of the list, because of concern regarding insects and worms which “hide inside the fruit’s flesh and are difficult to detect.”

Carobs are also listed as “highly infected” because of the way they are grown and stored. The Chief Rabbinate recommends washing the fruit well, checking it for holes, and even banging it against the tabletop, to make sure its insides don’t crumble easily – both being telltale signs of the presence of worms.

The holiday of Tu B’Shvat starts tonight, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, marking the New Year for Trees. It is celebrated by consuming the fruits which are indigenous to Eretz Israel according to the Torah.

A kabalistic custom calls for holding a Tu B’Shvat seder, in which participants eat ten local fruits and drink four cups of wine, the latter custom reminiscent of the Passover seder.

 

 

Reaping The Fruits Of His Labor

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Reb Pinchos, born in Romania, moved shortly after birth with his parents to Vienna. As a teenager, he learned in another city and took his Gemara with him. Pinchos remembered how his rebbe always liked to teach from his Gemara. He remembered Kristallnacht vividly, as he and his parents left Vienna fearing for their lives. Upon returning to their house, the family found all the books and furniture smashed, but miraculously, of all the sefarim that had been destroyed, the Gemara that he took with him to yeshiva was untouched. In addition, the sefer Torah they had hidden on top of a bookcase in their home had fallen behind the bookcase – but was untouched.

Shortly after, Reb Pinchos and his parents left Vienna for England. Little did he know what the future had in store for him. Hundreds of people had escaped from Europe to England and the British were afraid that Nazi spies might have been among the escapees. His parents, being in their 70s, were allowed to remain in England, but Reb Pinchos and 2,000 other Jews were told that they were going to be deported from England. With a heavy heart he bade farewell to his parents, knowing that this would be the last time he would see them.

He and his fellow Jews were taken to a large ship, the infamous Dunera, which had a transport capacity of 800 – but was now packed with 2,000 people. They had no idea where they were going, and most only had their personal belongings in a small bag. The ship’s British soldiers went through all those belongings and stole anything of value – while personal papers were thrown into the sea. Conditions on board were terrible, with little food available, and the deportees were allowed on deck for fresh air for only an hour a day.

One day while at sea everyone was told, without explanation, to go below deck. Suddenly, the whole ship shook as if something had hit it. Little did they know that a torpedo had hit the ship, but miraculously didn’t explode. Not long after the war, the captain of the U-boat that had fired the torpedo wrote that he had noticed papers in the water and sent divers in to retrieve them. It turned out that about 200 German prisoners of war were on the Dunera, and when the German submarine’s commander found papers belonging to these prisoners, he commanded all the U-boats in the area not to fire at the ship. He accompanied the boat into safe waters.

After about 7-8 weeks, the ship arrived in Australia. The headline in the paper there read, “Enemy Aliens Arrive In Australia.” Reb Pinchos and the other Jews were taken to Tatura in New South Wales, where they were interned and kept behind barbed wires.

With World War II in progress, all able-bodied men had gone off to war and people were needed to pick fruit. Reb Pinchos and others were taken to the orchards to pick the fruit. As the first Shabbos was approaching, Reb Pinchos was concerned about having to work on Shabbos, but as he was officially a prisoner of war he questioned as to what to do. He decided to speak to the farmer, explaining to him the prohibition of working on Shabbos and offering to work on Sunday instead. To his surprise the farmer said that he would honor the request to not work on Shabbos, and he added that he did not want Reb Pinchos to work on Sunday either, since that was his “Shabbos.”

While working there, Reb Pinchos discovered that there was a shul in the area belonging to the Feiglin family. After his first visit to the shul, one of the Feiglin sons picked him up every Friday in order to spend Shabbos with the Feiglins. Reb Pinchos was returned to the farm on Sunday. When Reb Pinchos completed his job of picking the fruit at this farm, the farmer told him that he found a job for him picking fruit at a neighboring farm. And the farmer mentioned to Reb Pinchos’s new boss that Reb Pinchos did not work on Shabbos, a condition she accepted.

Eventually Reb Pinchos joined the Australian army. He married and raised a heimishe Jewish family – instilled with the values of Torah and Yiddishkeit.

Crossword Puzzle – Hometown Hero

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

 

Across

1. Rag

7. Attila was one

10. Having a bad game

13. Sounds

14. Beep

15. By way of

16. Connect to satellite, perhaps

17. Sicknesses

18. Naval rank (abbr.)

19. The Hero

21. Rodent

22. Org. that causes problems for some aliens

23. Right above nil

24. Lazy

25. Solomon and Lanzbom; Simon and Garfunkel, e.g.

27. When the Hero came home

30. Roadside rest

31. “Guess ___ Coming to Dinner?”

32. Sure

33. Two South of the border

34. iPhone operating letters

35. Minyan amount

36. Bovine physician

39. Letters before Arizona or New York

40. Soft hit

41. Retirement letters

42. The Hometown

46. The Hero’s dad

47. Fruit drink berry

48. Actor Wallach

49. Mass murderer Pot

50. Guys

51. Where the Hero was before he came home

56. Dude

57. ___touille

58. Kings II prophet

59. Let wine sit

60. Dangerous bomb

61. Hummingbird drink

62. First part of Page and Plant’s band

63. Not neither

64. Works one story into another

 

Down

1. Cozy

2. Native American tribe of Western America

3. “Brewster’s ___”

4. Those from Korea, e.g.

5. Works at a bar

6. Poses a question

7. It’s said a lot during Tishrei

8. Jamaican fruit

9. Shiluach Hakan locale

10. Don’t ___ it

11. A shows last episode

12. Observed 10 Tevet

14. Instruments for Joel and John

20. Non-kosher Hostess cakes

24. Little devil

25. I ___ it!

26. 33-Across halved

27. Picked

28. Lion King baddie

29. Em to Dorothy

31. Bit of hair

35. Popular bulbous flower

36. Those who play small stringed instruments

37. Age

38. Half of a popular cracker

39. Israeli gun

40. Cursor of Israel (alternate Spelling)

42. Human or ape, e.g.

43. 2002 animated hit

44. Got some rays

45. Trojan hero

46. Learner

49. Mushroom top

51.  No friend of Israel

52. Treaty org. of note

53. Home for Avraham, often

54. Kind of Asian food

55. Cat toy

 

(Answers, next week)

Yoni can be reached at yglatt@youngisrael.org

Christian Supporters Of Israel Deserve Our Respect And Love

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

In recent times we have witnessed increasing support for Israel on the part of evangelical Christians. They view the establishment of the State of Israel as the miraculous fulfillment of the vision of the biblical prophets.

The Jewish nation returns to its land and the soil yields its produce. “For the Lord shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden and her desert like the garden of the Lord (Isaiah 51:3).”

Bible-believing Christians see the settlements and vineyards and are deeply moved. “And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them” (Isaiah 65:21). “And I will bring back the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink their wine; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them” (Amos 9:14).

While many countries support the Arabs out of economic interests or fear or false beliefs, the evangelicals are clearly on our side. Their point of view is very important, for they are a significant and influential group in the United States, the strongest country in the world.

Many Jews wonder how we should we relate to Christians who love Israel. After all, for nearly two thousand years the Jewish nation was persecuted, plundered, forced to convert, expelled and murdered in the name of Christianity. Advertisement

The most severe sin of Christianity was its teaching that Israel was no longer God’s Chosen Nation, and that all the prophecies of Redemption now pertained to the Church rather than the Jews.

But then came the return of the Jews to our Land after all the centuries of dispersal and mistreatment culminating in the Holocaust. Israel’s agricultural miracles, along with its ability to withstand enemies all around it, have inspired many Christians.

As they understand from the Bible, Israel is still in a covenantal relationship with God, and the Jews must return to their land, settle it, and occupy themselves with Torah and mitzvot.

Those Christians who believe God chose Israel, and who are not working to convert us, are righteous gentiles, and God will reward them. Because of their faith in the Bible and their ethics, they are closer to us than are secular leftists.

Some Jews will still ask, “What if among our friends there are some missionaries who want to convert us?”

Indeed, if and when such a thing is proven, they must be fought. However, any supporter of Israel who is not a missionary must be treated with respect and love.

As Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook wrote, “Love of creation should spread to all mankind, despite all the differing opinions, religions and faiths, despite all the differences of races and climates ”

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, one of Israel’s most outspoken religious-Zionist leaders, is dean of Yeshiva Har Bracha and a prolific author on Jewish law.

Israeli White Wines For The Summer

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

If you’re located in the Northern Hemisphere, July signals the time of year when the weather can be hot enough to make you both thirsty and a bit more than uncomfortable. Our minds go to the efficiency of the air-conditioning in our homes, automobiles, and offices, and our palates take us to dishes that are light and not infrequently intentionally served cold. When we think of wine it is most logical for our thoughts to turn to white wines for, in addition to being served well chilled, those indeed tend to be crisper and more refreshing than reds.


Even as a youth I knew that dry white wines are not white at all. Made from grapes whose skin is gold, green or yellowish, their color can range from pale straw-like to yellow or golden. I also learned at an early age that although most white wines are made for consumption in their youth, the very best of them can be cellared for 20, 30 or even more years.


Several years ago, together with our Israeli cousins, many Americans came to the conclusion that drinking white wines was not as sophisticated as drinking reds. Some went as far as to give away all of their whites. That, frankly, was a badly informed decision, for as true wine lovers know, the very best white wines can be no less complex, deep or long-lived as even the best of reds. Whether made from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc or Viognier, white wines tend to be more refreshing than reds because in addition to lacking the tannins of reds they are at their best when served well chilled. Simply stated, because we tend to eat dishes that are lighter in the summer, white wines go down more easily than reds.


As to what foods match well with white wines, I have only one rule: lighter dishes should be accompanied by lighter wines (e.g. Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, and unoaked Chardonnay), while medium or heavier dishes should be matched with medium- to full-bodied whites (e.g. oaked Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Semillon).


Following are reviews of a collection of kosher Israeli white wines that are particularly well suited to the months of summer:


Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Chardonnay, Odem Organic Vineyard, 2008: Bright burnished gold in color, full-bodied, opening with a note of butterscotch on the nose. On first attack summer fruits and pears, those yielding to notes of citrus and crème brûlée. Gentle wood and a near-buttery texture balanced finely with acidity. Not a lively wine but indeed destined to be complex, mouth-filling and, for lack of a better term, delicious. Drink now-2018. $14. Score: 94.


Castel, “C,” Chardonnay, Blanc du Castel, 2008: Light, bright gold in color, full-bodied but with balance so finely tuned that the wine seems to float on the palate. On first attack, grapefruit and grapefruit pith on a seductive creamy and vanilla nose, the wine then opening in the glass to reveal pear, apricot, fig and melon aromas and flavors, all on a mineral-rich background. Long, deep, complex, and elegant. Drink now-2014. $42. Score: 93.


Golan Heights Winery, Katzrin, Chardonnay, 2008: Lighter gold and, although full-bodied, neither as dense or as oaky as with past releases. All of which is just fine, for after distinct notes of butterscotch and poached pears the wine opens to reveal citrus, melon and light toasty notes that prove subtle, complex, elegant and long. Drink now-2018. $22. Score: 92.


Yatir, Viognier, 2010: Unoaked, thus maintaining its fresh fruit character and crisp nature. Light- to medium-bodied, opening with floral and nutty aromas and flavors, going on to show a generous mouthful of pear, apricot and litchi fruits, all on a background that hints of spices and, on the finish, a note of litchi. Round, lively and generous. Drink now-2014. $32. Score: 91.


Yatir, Sauvignon Blanc, 2010: Fermented in stainless steel and then transferred to primarily older oak for two months, light straw colored with a hint of a green tint and just a bare and thus tantalizing hint of the oak. Light and refined, as fresh and lively on the nose as on the palate, showing aromas and flavors of citrus, pears and apples, those along with notes of guava and minerals that arise from mid-palate on. A fine balance between ripeness and finely tuned acidity. Drink now-2012. $32. Score: 90.


Carmel, Regional, Sauvignon Blanc, Upper Galilee, 2010: Light glistening gold, unoaked and showing fine aromatics and lively acidity to support aromas and flavors of passion fruit, pink grapefruit and star fruit (carambola), all on a background that hints nicely of freshly mown grass. Very nice indeed, reflecting the ongoing local improvement with this variety. Drink now-2013. Score: 90.


Galil Mountain, Sauvignon Blanc, 2010: Light gold with green and orange tints. Unoaked, pure, crisp and well focused, with peach, citrus, tangerine and mango aromas and flavors. From mid-palate on delightful notes of key lime pie and stony minerals. Refreshing, with appealing complexity. Drink now. $18. Score: 90.


Galil Mountain, Viognier, 2010: Medium-bodied, light bright gold showing a hint of smoky oak to complement a generous mouthful of green gage plums, litchis, Anjou pears and, from mid-palate on, a note of honeydew melon. Tangy, lively and long. Drink now. Score: 90.


Golan Heights Winery, Yarden, Viognier, 2009: On the opening nose light notes of oak and flowers, those parting to make way for aromas and flavors of white peaches, pears and spices and, from mid-palate to a generous finish, notes of green-gage plums. Drink now-2013. $20. Score: 90.


Binyamina, Avnei Hachoshen, Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc-Viognier, Yashfeh, 2009: A medium-bodied blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier (50%, 30%, and 20% respectively). Aged in new and old oak for six months, shows a complex nose on which butternuts and ripe pears continuing to the glass and opening to reveal notes of honeydew melon and citrus peel. Finishes generously with a near-buttery texture. Drink now-2013. $16. Score: 89.


Barkan, Reserve, Chardonnay, 2009: Light gold, slightly muted when first poured but opening in the glass to show green apple, pear and green almond notes. Medium-bodied, with an appealing hint of bitterness on the finish. Drink now. $16. Score: 88.


Psagot, Viognier, 2010: Developed in new French oak for six months, light bright gold in color, medium-bodied, with generous acidity that calls to mind green apples, the acidity in fine balance with notes of spicy oak. Opens in the glass to reveal appealing spiced pears, litchis and almonds. Generous 14% alcohol, but not a sign of heat. Drink now or in the next year or so. $20. Score: 88.


Tzuba, Tel Tzuba, Chardonnay, 2009: Light bright gold in color, developed partly in stainless steel, partly in barriques (50% of which were new), and with no malolactic fermentation. Opens a bit flat but don’t let that put you off, for all this needs is a few minutes in the glass to reveal aromas and flavors of green apples, peaches and nectarines. Medium-bodied, with appealing notes of Anjou pears that come in on the finish. Drink now. $22. Score: 88.


Next month: kosher white wines from the U.S., Europe, New Zealand, and South America.

 

Daniel Rogov is a premier kosher wine critic and the author of two annual books, “Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines” and “Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines.” He can be reached by e-mail at drogov@cheerful.com, and his books can be ordered at www.danielrogov.com.

The Sprouting Of Mashiach

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
           What is it about Tu B’Shevat?
            There are four “Roshei Hashanah.”
The First of Tishrei we all know about. That is the day we blow the shofar.
The First of Nissan and the First of Elul come and go in our times without much notice.
             But Tu B’Shevat is different. There is a sense of simcha, a sense of hope and many minhagim associated with it: we eat fruit and make a Shehecheyanu. We omit Tachanun.
           What is different about Tu B’Shevat?
One reason for the simcha is the universal joy felt at the advent of spring, and Tu B’Shevat is a harbinger of spring. “For on this day the strength of the soil of Eretz Yisrael is renewed and it begins to yield its produce and demonstrate its inherent goodness” (Book of Our Heritage, page 331). Who does not experience a surge of hope when the snows melt, the air turns warm and the trees are filled with magnificent blossoms? It hints of techias hameisim, the resurrection of the dead.
   In fact, the blessing of techias hameisim in Shemoneh Esrei ends with the words “umatzmiach yeshuaand He causes salvation to sprout.”
   I would have thought the shofar sounding and Mashiach ben David riding in on a donkey is far from “sprouting,” but apparently not.
   Actually the blessing for Mashiach implies sprouting. Does it not say “tsemach David – the sprouting of David”?
   Why is Redemption compared to the agricultural process?
   I believe this can illuminate the nature of the geulah shelemah.
 
   Where did King David come from? His great-grandmother Ruth came from Moab, a nation founded in perversity and immorality (the relationship between Lot and his daughter). Mashiach is raised in darkness and appears from the most unlikely of all possible places. As we say in Psalms, “Even ma’asu habanim haisa l’rosh pina – the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone .” (Psalm 118). This refers to David, according to the Targum. No one, not even David’s own family, wanted to believe David had been selected by God to be the redeemer of Israel.
   What is a seed and how does it germinate? It lies in blackness and obscurity, under the ground, unseen by the world. No one knows where it is. Some people forget about it completely, and during the winter it is buried under snow and ice in the frozen earth. It requires rain. From where does the seed arise? It comes from the fruits of the past, which have died and rejoined the earth after having nourished past generations.
This is so much like Mashiach ben David. Mashiach also lies, so to speak, in obscurity. No one knows who Mashiach is and where he will arise. He requires tears just as the seed underground requires rain. And Mashiach arises from the past; he is the fruit of King David, who will come to nourish future generations just as his father nourished generations of the past.
What is the highest form of food? After the Flood, mankind was permitted meat in order to have the strength to live in the new and challenging world. What about before the Flood?
After the expulsion from the Garden, Hashem said to Adam, “accursed is the ground because of you. Through suffering you shall eat of it . Thorns and thistles shall it sprout for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. By the sweat of your brow shall you eat of the bread until you return to the ground from which you were taken, for you are dust, and to dust shall you return” (Bereishis 3: 17-19).
   In other words, after the Expulsion mankind started eating herbs. After the Flood mankind started eating meat. What about before the Expulsion?
   It seems mankind was meant to eat fruit of the trees, from all types of trees except one.
   Why is the fruit of the tree the highest form of food?
   Herbs require destroying the plant. When you pull up a carrot from the ground you have uprooted the plant. There is no more carrot plant. You will eat, but you have destroyed a plant.
   When you eat meat, you have killed an animal. Your chicken or your steak or your fish required destruction of an animal.
   But the fruit of the tree is perfect. Nothing has been killed. The tree remains to produce more fruit and to bear beautiful blossoms and fruits. The fruit itself will produce more trees. In fact, I heard the brilliant Reb Zev Smith say he heard that if you plant one apple seed, it will grow into a tree, and then you take the apples from that tree and plant all their seeds, within twenty years you can feed the entire world from that one seed.

   This is Mashiach ben David. From this one “sprouting” seed of the Tree of Yishai the entire world will be saved. This is “tsemach David,” the sprouting of David. This is what excites and thrills us on Tu B’Shevat. We feel the sap pulsing in the trees and sense the imminent sprouting of the advent of Mashiach ben David, may we greet him soon in our days.

 

 

Roy Neuberger’s latest book, “2020 VISION” (Feldheim), is available at Jewish bookstores, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and online at Amazon.com. Roy can be contacted at roy@tosinai.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-sprouting-of-mashiach/2011/01/12/

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