Amusing Stories and rules about Mishloach Manot

Mishloach Manot

Tired domestic help on Purim
Tired domestic help on Purim

Shalom Alechem wrote several very funny yet realistic stories about Mishloach Manot.  In his story “Mishloach manot” He tells of two close friends each of which exhausted their Jewish domestic help on Purim by having them run around all of Kasrilevke to deliver mishloach manot. The two girls met each other on the way to deliver mishloach manot to their respective Bosses.

They were both mutually attacked by hunger and a need to consume the delicious vittles of Honey cake and a Huge Hamentashin. They ate each other’s just to keep it even.

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https://youtu.be/B43vyOF5g3k

Upon delivery the receivers fainted and then flipped out. The next day at the store the Bosses mumbled at each other and pouted until their wives showed up and incited them to a fist fight. The whole Kasrilevke market place had to break them up. (Hebrew translation in “Yamim Tovim” published by Dvir La’am)

They did not talk to each other until one of the maids admitted what had happened then they were both immediately fired.

From the following story we learn that it is important to send a politically correct Mishloach Manot.

On Purim we send food items to each other.  Rabah was of a poor background and was still poor after being recognized as a Torah giant. He sent with Abaye to Mareh Bar Mar a basket with a leg of lamb and a cup of oven sweetened wheat. According to Maharsh”a these were simple gifts. To this Abaye in the name of Mareh bar Mar responded by saying another popular Aramaic expression, “When a peasant becomes king he eternally leaves the basket tied around his neck.” Abaye then sent a Basket full of ginger and another cup full of pepper. To this, Rabah responded by saying yet another popular expression, “I sent you sweet things and you sent me hot things!” (Megila 7b and Yalkut Shimoni Esther 1159)

In order to avoid any of these conflicts many Syrian Jews were accustomed to prepare a single Mishloach Manot of several small items. Two food items is the minimum required by the Halacha. (Shulchan Aruch – Or Hachayim – 695 – 4) They would send this to a neighbor. When they would receive a mishloach manot they would change one item in it and pass it on to someone else or give this to the one who delivered one.

Many halachic issues have arisen over the ages as to whether certain items may be used to fulfill this Mitzvah. Trumat Hadeshen (vol 1 – 111) stated that one does not fulfill the mitzvah by sending clothing or sheets as Mishloach Manot. Yalkut Yosef  states that one does not fulfill the mitzvah by sending an interesting  torah discussion (food for thought).  However,  I do suggest that you include this Torah discussion with your mishloach manot. (Halacha 5)

If you give someone satisfaction does that count as Mishloach Manot? Yalkut Yosef additionally states. that an “Important” person who is kind enough to receive mishloach manot from a simple person has not fulfilled the mitzvah of mishloach manot even though he has given tremendous enjoyment to the simple person. This is only enjoyment without food. (Halacha 18)

Our rabbis have stated that we must study the laws of Passover thirty days before the holiday. (Shulchan Aruch 429 – 1) Many have asked how we can fulfill this Mitzvah? thirty days before Passover is Purim. We are already busy with other Mitzvot and torah discussions.  It seems that many Jews think about Passover on Purim when they realize that they have only a month to finish all of the food delivered in Mishloach Manot. Therefore it seems that it is a very popular Halacha to discuss the laws of getting rid of Chametz thirty days before Passover.

Empanadas and the Ten Commandments – Yitro

Did our Rabbis of Blessed memory eat Empanadas for Shabbat Lunch?

Remember the Day of Shabbat” is how we are told in the Ten Commandments in Parshat Yitro to keep Shabbat. (Shemot 20 – 7)

I am certain our Rabbis Fullfilled the commandment to keep Shabbat by eating Empanada as part of their great Shabbat afternoon feast.

Food reminds us of the holiness of Shabbat

One of the favorite ways of remembering Shabbat is by Dining. We demonstrate that it is Shabbat by spending time to enjoy special food and to enjoy our family and guests. By sitting back and doing nothing on Shabbat we remember G-d’s creation.

Jewish Customs and the Empanada

Every Jewish community has its special foods that are prepared and eaten in honor of Shabbat. These are usually based on a Jewish twist of local cuisine.  These twists are usually caused by Kashrut and Shabbat issues. An oily empanada is an example of both of these.

Empanadas that were served to Medieval Spanish Jews might have contained chicken, lamb, or even beef, as well as  fried onions and peppers. Tomatoes had not been discovered in the Americas until the Jews were thrown out Spain. This filling would be covered with dough and fried in pure olive oil. See recipes below from 1520 CE.

Rabbi Yosef Karo in his Shulchan Aruch Published in 1565 (Organized Table) states,

“It is permissible to place an “Empanada” near the fire in a place that is hot enough to scathe the hand even though the fat stuck to the Empanada melts.” The Rama”h in his glosses states that Ashkenazim are accustomed to be strict unless it is absolutely required, than one can rely on the first opinion.  (Siman 318 – 17)

Many complicated rabbinic discussions went into this Halacha at least since the 12th or 13th century CE.

The essential questions involve squeezing, creating something new and cooking on Shabbat. Most Empanada recipes call for certain forbidden meats and combing meat with milk. In order to make it both delicious and kosher other ingredients and cooking methods were employed. To make such a kosher dish in honor of Shabbat lunch one would want to reheat it.  The rabbis always gave classes on the laws of Shabbat.

The rabbis also certainly made Empanadas in honor of their own Shabbat lunch and needed to instruct those who attended to the kitchen the appropriate way of reheating lunch.

Empanadas de Carne (Beef Empanadas)

A cookbook published in Catalan in 1520, the Libre del Coch by Ruperto de Nola, mentions empanadas

http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-MANUSCRIPTS/Guisados1-art.html

  1. KID PIE

               PASTEL DE CABRITO

And if by chance the kids are too fat to be roasted, you may cut them in pieces, and make them into pasteles or empanadas (39)  And you may take fine spice and chopped parsley and put them in the empanadas with a little sweet oil and take this food to the oven; and a little before you remove it from the oven, beat some eggs with verjuice (graprejuice from unripe grapes)  or orange juice and put it in the empanada though the vent hole on the top of the empanada, and then return it to the oven for the space of three Paternosters.  And then remove it, and put this pastel before the lord on a plate, and open it and give it to him.

 

  1. MEAT OR FISH PASTRY

EMPANADA DE CARNE O DE PESCADO

You must take meat or fish, and give it a boil.  But if it is meat, boil it more than the fish.  And when it is well-boiled, take it from the fire and put it in cold water.  And then make the empanada.  And put in the meat or fish which is cut into small pieces, as big as two fingers, or even smaller.  And put them in the empanada, and then go to the oven and make a vent hole on top of the lid of the empanada so that it can breathe, or else it will burst in the oven.  And when you put the meat in the empanada, also put fine spice with it.  And if it is fish, use a good deal of pepper.  And if it is meat, use a good deal of spice; and a little before it is time to remove the empanada from the oven, put into the vent hole some eggs beaten in a dish with verjuice or orange juice or rose-scented white vinegar.  And then return it to the oven for the space of a Paternoster and an Ave Maria.  And take it out and put it on the table.

  1. PASTRIES OF FINE SUGAR

EMPANADAS DE AZUCAR FINO

You must take a pound of peeled almonds and grind them dry without casting any water or broth on them so that they will become very oily, because the oilier they are the better they will be.  And then take a pound and a half of white sugar that has been pulverized.  And mix it well with the almonds.  And when everything is well-mixed and ground, if it should be very hard, soften it with a little rosewater.  And when the dough has been softened a little, dust a little ginger over it, at your discretion, well-ground.  And then take dough made from flour and knead it with good eggs and sweet fine oil.  And from this dough make tortillas, or  empanadillas, (102) or spiral cakes.  And fill them with said dough.  And then put a casserole on the fire with good sweet oil.  And when it boils cast in these empanadillas. And cook them until they turn yellow like the color of gold.  And when you take them from the fire, cast liquefied honey on top.  And upon the honey, [cast] sugar and cinnamon.

  1. PASTRY OF ROAST HEN ON THE SPIT

EMPANADA EN ASADOR DE GALLINA ASADA

You must take a very plump hen, and remove the wings and the feet and the neck, and stuff it entirely with the yolks of hard-boiled eggs, and cinnamon and cloves stuck in the egg yolks, and raisins, and blanched almonds, and cooked meat from a calf or a kid, and finely chopped, and mint and parsley, also raw egg yolks.  And spices which are fine and saffron-colored; and with all this, mixed with the raisins and almonds, stuff it inside the hen and then sew it up so that none of the stuffing falls out; and then put it on the spit and roast it.  And when it is almost roasted, take a large plate and cast upon it a little rice flour which is very fine, and goat milk, and raw egg yolks, and sugar, and cinnamon, and other spices which are fine and saffron-colored; and beat this all together vigorously.  And thin the said dough with the milk; if you have no milk, take rosewater and a little pot-broth, and mix it all together.  And then, with some hen feathers, spread the said dough over the hen and rub it.  And anoint it, and be careful that you do not thin it too much because it will not be able to cling to the flesh of the hen.  And anoint it enough times that this dough or sauce forms a crust on the hen as thick as the crust of a empanada; and if you wish, you may put wholesome herbs, such as parsley, marjoram and mint, well then you may do it; and turn the spit in such a manner that the said dough stays upon the hen.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empanada

שולחן ערוך אורח חיים הלכות שבת סימן שיח
סעיף טז
מג) מותר ליתן (ק) אינפאנדה (קא) כנגד האש מ <כ> מד) במקום שהיד סולדת (קב) <כא> ואף על פי שהשומן שבה שנקרש כג’] חוזר ונימוח. הגה: (קג) מא וכ”ש קדירה שיש מה) בה רוטב שנקרש, שכשהשומן נימוח כד’] אינו בעין, (קד) דשרי. (רבי ירוחם ח”ג) (קה) מב [לט] מו) כה’] ויש מחמירין (ר”ן פרק ב”ט). ונהגו (קו) להחמיר, מיהו (קז) במקום צורך מז) יש לסמוך אסברא ראשונה.

משנה ברורה סימן שיח ס”ק ק
(ק) אינפאנדא וכו’ – הוא פשטיד”א הנזכר בכמה מקומות והוא פת כפולה הממולא בחתיכות שומן ונותנו שם כדי לחממו והטעם שמותר דכיון[קכב] שהוא יבש אף שנצטנן לא שייך ביה בישול עוד וכמ”ש בסט”ו ואף על פי שהשומן חוזר ונימוח מ”מ מקרי יבש כיון שבשעה שנותנו לחממו לא נמחה עדיין:

 

Honey and Milk inside the Tefillin – Perashat Bo

Appreciate The Abundance of Milk and Honey.

When we put on Tefillin we can meditate on appreciating that G-d gave us a blessed land that is flowing with Milk and Honey.

The first of the four Perashiot of Tefilin in Perashat Bo says:

And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, which He swore unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month. (Shmot 13-5)

שמות פרק יג
וְהָיָ֣ה כִֽי־יְבִֽיאֲךָ֣ יְקֹוָ֡ק אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ הַֽ֠כְּנַעֲנִי וְהַחִתִּ֨י וְהָאֱמֹרִ֜י וְהַחִוִּ֣י וְהַיְבוּסִ֗י אֲשֶׁ֨ר נִשְׁבַּ֤ע לַאֲבֹתֶ֙יךָ֙ לָ֣תֶת לָ֔ךְ אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָ֖ב וּדְבָ֑שׁ וְעָבַדְתָּ֛ אֶת־הָעֲבֹדָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את בַּחֹ֥דֶשׁ הַזֶּֽה:

Land Flowing with Milk and Honey
From the Parchments placed into Tefillin

Both words milk and honey instill positive connotations to virtually every human being. Their presence in the land demonstrates a good economy. This goes so far that honey is actually the word used to describe any “sweet” concept. Milk and milk products are universally rich and fatty substances.

In the Torah the word honey generally refers to date honey. However, several uses of the word honey refer to bee’s honey as well as others that refer to any honey like substance that easily exudes from fruit.

Riesh Lakish was an Emora during the Talmudic period. He says that he saw a lamb grazing under a fig tree dripping with honey. The lamb itself was dripping its milk onto the honey. He said that this represented the land flowing with milk and honey. (Ketubot 111b)

Our Rabbis of Blessed Memory have additionally said that the fruit of Israel are fatty like milk and sweet like honey. (Ketubot 112a)

It seems that the term honey is in reality a difficult word to specifically understand. Above we saw that Reish Lakish leaves the term honey open ended by referring to fig “honey” while discussing the phrase, “A land flowing with milk and honey.” However, what the words milk and honey include seems to be a disagreement of Tanaim of the Mishnaic period.

Silan - Date Honey
Silan – Date Honey

Rabbi Eliezer gives a Vegan friendly explanation for Milk and Honey. According to Rabi Eliezer milk in “Milk and Honey” means that the milk of the fruits is very rich and that the honey refers only to Date Honey. However, Rabi Akiva disagrees and says that milk refers to real milk and that honey refers to “Yearot Dvash ” “Yearot Honey .“ (Mechilta Derashb”i)

Honey Comb From Israel
Honey Comb From Israel

There is further disagreement between Rashi and his school of thought and Radak as to what “Yearot Dvash” means. According to Rashi it means canes with honey in them that grow in Israel. It seems possible that Rashi refers to cane sugar or perhaps another sweet cane. However, Rada”k questions Rashi’s source material and then says that “Yearot Dvash” refers to ordinary bee’s honey combs. (Shmuel 1 14 25)

In Parashat Ki Tisa The Holy one Blessed be He stated that he would not himself lead the people of Israel into the Holy land instead an Angel will do this. “A land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go in your midst, since you are a stiffnecked people, lest I destroy you on the way.” (Shemot 33 3)

On this Pasuk Seforno points out that the Jewish people need a land that is naturally rich. They are a stiff-necked people. They will not be successful living in a place like the desert where they need constant miracles to survive.

Wholesome Milk
Wholesome Milk

Dairy products are central to many Jewish customs. On Shavuot we eat dairy. Many say that this is because the Jewish people did not have time to learn the laws of Shchita (ritual slaughtering) and Kashrut laws. Therefore, they ate dairy.

Honey has left a great impact on the Jewish people. Although a tiny portion of the worlds population is Jewish we consume 20% of the world’s honey. This was pointed out to me by a site that sells honey. The most famous of these sweet customs is on Rosh Hashana when almost every Jew in the world dips an apple in honey.

So when we put on Tefilin we can meditate on appreciating that G-d gave us such a blessed land.

Here is a little more source material copied from elsewhere.

ספרי דברים פרשת עקב פיסקא מג
(יז) אם עשיתם כן וחרה אף ה’ בכם, משל למלך ששגר את בנו לבית המשתה והיה יושב ומפקדו ואומר לו בני אל תאכל יותר מצרכך אל תשתה יותר מצרכך כדי שתבוא נקי לביתך לא השגיח הבן ההוא אכל יותר מצרכו ושתה יותר מצרכו והקיא וטנף את בני מסיבה נטלוהו בידיו וברגליו וזרקוהו לאחר פלטורין, כך אמר להם הקדוש ברוך הוא לישראל הכנסתי אתכם אל ארץ טובה ורחבה לארץ זבת חלב ודבש לאכל מפריה ולשבוע מטובה ולברך שמי עליה לא הייתם בטובה היו בפורענות וחרה אף ה’ בכם.

If you behave in this way—

“Then HASHEM’s fierce anger will flare up against you” (Dt.11:17).

There is an analogy—

A king sent his son to represent him at a wedding feast.

Before hand, the king sat and instructed him, saying:

My son!

Don’t eat more than you need to,

and don’t drink more than you need to,

so that you may return home spotless.

That son paid no attention.

He ate more than he needed to,

and drank more than he needed to.

Then he vomited and soiled the party guests.

They took him by his hands and feet

and threw him behind the palace.

Thus said the Blessed Holy One to the children of Israel:

I have brought you into a good and broad Land,

to a Land dripping with milk and honey,

to eat of its fruit, to be satisfied with its bounty,

and to bless My Name over it.

You were oblivious to the bounty,

but may notice the retribution!

“Then HASHEM’s fierce anger will flare up against you” (Dt.11:17).

Pisqa’ 43

ספרי דברים פרשת כי תבוא פיסקא שא
ארץ זבת חלב ודבש, נאמר כאן ארץ זבת חלב ודבש ונאמר להלן +שמות יג ה+ ארץ זבת חלב ודבש מה ארץ זבת חלב ודבש האמורה להלן חמשת עממים אף ארץ זבת חלב ודבש האמור כאן ארץ חמשת עממים. רבי יוסי הגלילי אומר אין מביאים בכורים מעבר לירדן שאינו זבת חלב ודבש. 

The story of Samson killing the Lion, then bees made their hive Lion in and his riddle – allegory that he asked at his Wedding.

שופטים פרק יד
וַיֵּ֧רֶד שִׁמְשׁ֛וֹן וְאָבִ֥יו וְאִמּ֖וֹ תִּמְנָ֑תָה וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ עַד־כַּרְמֵ֣י תִמְנָ֔תָה וְהִנֵּה֙ כְּפִ֣יר אֲרָי֔וֹת שֹׁאֵ֖ג לִקְרָאתֽוֹ:
(ו) וַתִּצְלַ֨ח עָלָ֜יו ר֣וּחַ יְקֹוָ֗ק וַֽיְשַׁסְּעֵ֙הוּ֙ כְּשַׁסַּ֣ע הַגְּדִ֔י וּמְא֖וּמָה אֵ֣ין בְּיָד֑וֹ וְלֹ֤א הִגִּיד֙ לְאָבִ֣יו וּלְאִמּ֔וֹ אֵ֖ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָֽׂה:
(ז) וַיֵּ֖רֶד וַיְדַבֵּ֣ר לָאִשָּׁ֑ה וַתִּישַׁ֖ר בְּעֵינֵ֥י שִׁמְשֽׁוֹן:
(ח) וַיָּ֤שָׁב מִיָּמִים֙ לְקַחְתָּ֔הּ וַיָּ֣סַר לִרְא֔וֹת אֵ֖ת מַפֶּ֣לֶת הָאַרְיֵ֑ה וְהִנֵּ֨ה עֲדַ֧ת דְּבוֹרִ֛ים בִּגְוִיַּ֥ת הָאַרְיֵ֖ה וּדְבָֽשׁ:
(ט) וַיִּרְדֵּ֣הוּ אֶל־כַּפָּ֗יו וַיֵּ֤לֶךְ הָלוֹךְ֙ וְאָכֹ֔ל וַיֵּ֙לֶךְ֙ אֶל־אָבִ֣יו וְאֶל־אִמּ֔וֹ וַיִּתֵּ֥ן לָהֶ֖ם וַיֹּאכֵ֑לוּ וְלֹֽא־הִגִּ֣יד לָהֶ֔ם כִּ֛י מִגְּוִיַּ֥ת הָאַרְיֵ֖ה רָדָ֥ה הַדְּבָֽשׁ:
(י) וַיֵּ֥רֶד אָבִ֖יהוּ אֶל־הָאִשָּׁ֑ה וַיַּ֨עַשׂ שָׁ֤ם שִׁמְשׁוֹן֙ מִשְׁתֶּ֔ה כִּ֛י כֵּ֥ן יַעֲשׂ֖וּ הַבַּחוּרִֽים:
(יא) וַיְהִ֖י כִּרְאוֹתָ֣ם אוֹת֑וֹ וַיִּקְחוּ֙ שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים מֵֽרֵעִ֔ים וַיִּהְי֖וּ אִתּֽוֹ:
(יב) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר לָהֶם֙ שִׁמְשׁ֔וֹן אָחֽוּדָה־נָּ֥א לָכֶ֖ם חִידָ֑ה אִם־הַגֵּ֣ד תַּגִּידוּ֩ אוֹתָ֨הּ לִ֜י שִׁבְעַ֨ת יְמֵ֤י הַמִּשְׁתֶּה֙ וּמְצָאתֶ֔ם וְנָתַתִּ֤י לָכֶם֙ שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים סְדִינִ֔ים וּשְׁלֹשִׁ֖ים חֲלִפֹ֥ת בְּגָדִֽים:
(יג) וְאִם־לֹ֣א תוּכְלוּ֘ לְהַגִּ֣יד לִי֒ וּנְתַתֶּ֨ם אַתֶּ֥ם לִי֙ שְׁלֹשִׁ֣ים סְדִינִ֔ים וּשְׁלֹשִׁ֖ים חֲלִיפ֣וֹת בְּגָדִ֑ים וַיֹּ֣אמְרוּ ל֔וֹ ח֥וּדָה חִידָתְךָ֖ וְנִשְׁמָעֶֽנָּה:
(יד) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לָהֶ֗ם מֵהָֽאֹכֵל֙ יָצָ֣א מַאֲכָ֔ל וּמֵעַ֖ז יָצָ֣א מָת֑וֹק וְלֹ֥א יָכְל֛וּ לְהַגִּ֥יד הַחִידָ֖ה שְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת יָמִֽים:

ה  וַיֵּרֶד שִׁמְשׁוֹן וְאָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ, תִּמְנָתָה; וַיָּבֹאוּ, עַד-כַּרְמֵי תִמְנָתָה, וְהִנֵּה כְּפִיר אֲרָיוֹת, שֹׁאֵג לִקְרָאתוֹ. 5 Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnah, and came to the vineyards of Timnah; and, behold, a young lion roared against him.
ו  וַתִּצְלַח עָלָיו רוּחַ יְהוָה, וַיְשַׁסְּעֵהוּ כְּשַׁסַּע הַגְּדִי, וּמְאוּמָה, אֵין בְּיָדוֹ; וְלֹא הִגִּיד לְאָבִיו וּלְאִמּוֹ, אֵת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה. 6 And the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as one would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand; but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
ז  וַיֵּרֶד, וַיְדַבֵּר לָאִשָּׁה; וַתִּישַׁר, בְּעֵינֵי שִׁמְשׁוֹן. 7 And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well.
ח  וַיָּשָׁב מִיָּמִים, לְקַחְתָּהּ, וַיָּסַר לִרְאוֹת, אֵת מַפֶּלֶת הָאַרְיֵה; וְהִנֵּה עֲדַת דְּבוֹרִים בִּגְוִיַּת הָאַרְיֵה, וּדְבָשׁ. 8 And after a while he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion; and, behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey.
ט  וַיִּרְדֵּהוּ אֶל-כַּפָּיו, וַיֵּלֶךְ הָלוֹךְ וְאָכֹל, וַיֵּלֶךְ אֶל-אָבִיו וְאֶל-אִמּוֹ, וַיִּתֵּן לָהֶם וַיֹּאכֵלוּ; וְלֹא-הִגִּיד לָהֶם, כִּי מִגְּוִיַּת הָאַרְיֵה רָדָה הַדְּבָשׁ. 9 And he scraped it out into his hands, and went on, eating as he went, and he came to his father and mother, and gave unto them, and they did eat; but he told them not that he had scraped the honey out of the body of the lion.
י  וַיֵּרֶד אָבִיהוּ, אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה; וַיַּעַשׂ שָׁם שִׁמְשׁוֹן מִשְׁתֶּה, כִּי כֵּן יַעֲשׂוּ הַבַּחוּרִים. 10 And his father went down unto the woman; and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.
יא  וַיְהִי, כִּרְאוֹתָם אוֹתוֹ; וַיִּקְחוּ שְׁלֹשִׁים מֵרֵעִים, וַיִּהְיוּ אִתּוֹ. 11 And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.
יב  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם שִׁמְשׁוֹן, אָחוּדָה-נָּא לָכֶם חִידָה:  אִם-הַגֵּד תַּגִּידוּ אוֹתָהּ לִי שִׁבְעַת יְמֵי הַמִּשְׁתֶּה, וּמְצָאתֶם–וְנָתַתִּי לָכֶם שְׁלֹשִׁים סְדִינִים, וּשְׁלֹשִׁים חֲלִפֹת בְּגָדִים. 12 And Samson said unto them: ‘Let me now put forth a riddle unto you; if ye can declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of raiment;
יג  וְאִם-לֹא תוּכְלוּ, לְהַגִּיד לִי–וּנְתַתֶּם אַתֶּם לִי שְׁלֹשִׁים סְדִינִים, וּשְׁלֹשִׁים חֲלִיפוֹת בְּגָדִים; וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ–חוּדָה חִידָתְךָ, וְנִשְׁמָעֶנָּה. 13 but if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of raiment.’ And they said unto him: ‘Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.’
יד  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם, מֵהָאֹכֵל יָצָא מַאֲכָל, וּמֵעַז, יָצָא מָתוֹק; וְלֹא יָכְלוּ לְהַגִּיד הַחִידָה, שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים. 14 And he said unto them: Out of the eater came forth food, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days declare the riddle.

This is for:  Perashat Bo, Ki Tisa, Shmot, Tefilin, Rosh Hashana, Passover,  Shavuot and even Hachodesh

Olive Oil from the Menorah gives beautiful light and tons of allegory – Hanukkah

Introduction to Olives and Olive Oil.

Olive oil is a substance that is centrally connected with the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

The Torah itself is compared to oil. Just as oil pleasantly anoints the body and head so it is with the words of Torah. (Shir Hashirim Raba parsha 1)

Many Different Olive Oils

Olive Oil has been so central to life in Israel for thousands of years that the Torah names many different kinds of olive oils. These range from pure, clear olive oil for lighting the Menorah in the Bet Hamikdash  to thick jells that were engineered by apothecaries and blended with exotic spices. The Pure, clear Olive oil was the oil that the Maccabees miraculously found that lasted for 8 nights, even though it should have lasted for a single night.

The Bet Hamikdash ceremonies had at least three different kinds of olive oil. Pure oil from the first drop that is squeezed from the olive was used for lighting the Menorah. It is this oil that is famous in the Chanukah miracle. The other grades of Oil were mixed with sacrifices and a jell kind of oil for anointing Kohanim and Utensils.  (See Shemot 25 – 6)

Olive Oil has the most pleasant light

The light of olive oil is generally preferred for its pure, steady and gentle light. The Mishna states that one should light Shabbat candles strictly with olive oil. This can be a source of blessing and well-being.

Commodity

In biblical Israel olive oil was a basic commodity. Lack of olive oil was associated with suffering and poverty. Yishayahu states in his opening prophecy, “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and festering sores: they have not been pressed, neither bound up, neither mollified with oil. (Yishayahu 1 – 6)

Jewish People are compared to the Olive

Our Rabbis of Blessed Memory have stated that the people of Israel are compared to an olive in two different ways. An olive tree does not shed its leaves in summer or winter. Similarly, The people of Israel shall never disappear, not in this world and not in the world to come. Additionally, an olive will only render its oil under a tremendous weight so it is that the people of Israel only repent through trials and tribulations.

Symbol of Peace and Positive Outcomes

Additionally, The Dove returned to Noah in his ark with an olive branch. (Bereshit 8 – 11). Therefore the Dove with an Olive branch in its beak  is seen as a harbinger of positive news and good stuff to come.

Isaac Blessing Jacob - Nicolas-Guy Brenet
Isaac Blessing Jacob – Nicolas-Guy Brenet

Yitzchak Avinu gave a blessing of fertility to Yaakov Avinu by saying, “May God give you of the dew of heaven and the oil of the earth.” (Bereshit 27,28)

That is to say that Yaakov should be given the fat of the land.

Healthy and intelligent children are compared to an Olive Tree.

תהלים פרק קכח פסוק ג
אֶשְׁתְּךָ֤׀ כְּגֶ֥פֶן פֹּרִיָּה֘ בְּיַרְכְּתֵ֪י בֵ֫יתֶ֥ךָ בָּ֭נֶיךָ כִּשְׁתִלֵ֣י זֵיתִ֑ים סָ֝בִ֗יב לְשֻׁלְחָנֶֽךָ:

Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine, in the innermost parts of thy house; thy children like olive plants, round about thy table.

Ibn Ezra explains this pasuk: that your children will stand with strength and not whither, like olive leaves that are always green. Alsheich adds that your children will give light to all with abilities to teach.

Metzudot Tzion say that the allegory of your children being like Olive Trees is that they stand with beauty like an olive tree.

Dreams about Olives and Olive Oil

תלמוד בבלי מסכת ברכות פרק ט – הרואה [המתחיל בדף נז עמוד א]
הרואה זיתים בחלום, זוטרי – פרי ורבי וקאי עסקיה כזיתים, והני מילי – פרי, אבל אילני – הויין ליה בנים מרובין, שנאמר בניך כשתלי זיתים וגו’. איכא דאמרי: הרואה זית בחלום – שם טוב יוצא לו, שנאמר זית רענן יפה פרי תאר קרא ה’ שמך. הרואה שמן זית בחלום – יצפה למאור תורה, שנאמר ויקחו אליך שמן זית זך.

If one sees olives in a dream, if they are little ones his business will go on fructifying and increasing like an olive. This is if he sees the fruit; but if he sees the tree he will have many sons, as it says: Thy children like olive plants, round about thy table.17  Some say that if one sees an olive in his dream he will acquire a good name, as it says, The Lord called thy name a leafy olive-tree, fair and goodly fruit.23  If one sees olive oil in a dream, he may hope for the light of the Torah, as it says, That they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten for the light.

Olives in dreams of the wicked

תלמוד בבלי מסכת ברכות דף נו עמוד ב
אמר ליה ההוא מינא לרבי ישמעאל: ראיתי שאני משקה שמן לזיתים, אמר ליה: בא על אמו.

A certain Min said to R. Ishmael: I saw myself [in a dream] pouring oil into olives. He replied: [This man]4  has come unto his mother.

Health of Olive Oil – Memory

A “Mediterranean Diet” consists of many healthy items including olive oil, fish, beans and vegetables. This diet is known to reduce heart disease.

Consuming Olives the fruit vs Olive Oil

תלמוד בבלי מסכת הוריות דף יג עמוד ב
רב פפא אמר: אפילו שופתא מרא גייצי. ת”ר, חמשה דברים משכחים את הלימוד: האוכל ממה שאוכל עכבר וממה שאוכל חתול, והאוכל לב של בהמה, והרגיל בזיתים, והשותה מים של שיורי רחיצה, והרוחץ רגליו זו על גבי זו; ויש אומרים: אף המניח כליו תחת מראשותיו. חמשה דברים משיבים את הלימוד: פת פחמין וכל שכן פחמין עצמן, והאוכל ביצה מגולגלת בלא מלח, והרגיל בשמן זית, והרגיל ביין ובשמים, והשותה מים של שיורי עיסה; ויש אומרים: אף הטובל אצבעו במלח ואוכל. הרגיל בשמן זית. מסייע ליה לרבי יוחנן, דאמר רבי יוחנן: כשם שהזית משכח לימוד של שבעים שנה, כך שמן זית משיב לימוד של שבעים שנה. והרגיל ביין ובשמים. מסייע ליה לרבא, דאמר רבא: חמרא וריחני פקחין.

Our Rabbis taught: Five things make one forget one’s studies: Eating1  something from which a mouse or a cat has eaten, eating1  the heart of a beast, frequent consumption2  of olives, drinking3  the remains of water that was used for washing, and washing4  one’s feet one above the other. Others say: He also who puts his clothes under his head [forgets his studies].

Five things restore one’s learning:5  Wheaten bread and much more so wheat6  itself, eating1  a roasted7  egg without salt, frequent consumption8  of olive oil, frequent indulgence in wine and spices, and the drinking3  of water that has remained from kneading. Others say: Dipping one’s finger in salt and eating is also included.

‘Frequent consumption of olive-oil’. This corroborates the view of R. Johanan who said: As the olive causes one to forget seventy years of study, so does olive oil restore seventy years of study.

‘Frequent indulgence in wine and spices’. This corroborates the view of Raba who said: Wine and spices have made me wise.

Tefilin Sel Yad With 7 line Shma Yisrael - תפילין של יד עם שמע ישראל ב7 שורות

Tefillin – Ancient Black Boxes With Milk and Honey Inside

Inside Tefillin – A Land Flowing With Milk and Honey

Tefillin are a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah. They are worn by Jews during weekday morning prayers; Some wear them all day long while working or studying Torah.

The tefillin are to serve as a reminder of God’s intervention at the time of the Exodus from Egypt. Maimonides details of the sanctity of tefillin and writes that “as long as the tefillin are on the head and on the arm of a man, he is modest and God-fearing and will not be attracted by hilarity or idle talk; he will have no evil thoughts, but will devote all his thoughts to truth and righteousness” The Sefer ha-Chinuch (14th century) adds that the purpose of tefillin is to help subjugate a person’s worldly desires and encourage spiritual development. Joseph Caro (16th century) explains that tefillin are placed on the arm adjacent to the heart and on the head above the brain to demonstrate that these two major organs are willing to perform the service of God.

Tefillin on the head is close to the Frontal Cortex where higher thoughts are processed
Tefillin on the head is close to the Frontal Cortex where higher thoughts are processed

What’s in the Tefillin Boxes?

The Torah mentions the mitzvah of tefillin four separate times. Each of these texts is inscribed on parchment and placed into the tefillin. These passages discuss the unity of G‑d. They describe the miracles G‑d performed for us when He took us out of Egypt, and how G‑d alone has the power and dominion to do whatever He wants in the physical and spiritual worlds. In other words, these verses cover the fundamentals of our faith.

These texts are:

1–2. Kadesh (Exodus 13:1–10) and Vehayah ki yeviacha (Exodus 13:11–16): These describe the duty of the Jewish people to always remember the redemption from Egyptian bondage, and the obligation of every Jew to educate his children about this and about G‑d’s commandments. It includes the promise to bring the Jewish people to a land flowing with milk and honey.
3. Shema (Deut. 6:4–9): Pronounces the unity of the one G‑d, and commands us to love and fear Him.
4. Vehayah (Deut. 11:13–21): Focuses on G‑d’s assurance to us of reward that will follow our observance of the Torah’s mitzvahs.

 

Tefillin worn on the head, One side has a Shin with 4 heads, it usually has three
Tefillin worn on the head, One side has a Shin with 4 heads, it usually has three

In the perashiot inside the Tefillin the statement that Israel is a land flowing with milk and Honey is written.

Tefillin has the verse telling the Jews that the land of Israel flows with milk and honey
Tefillin has the verse telling the Jews that the land of Israel flows with milk and honey

Both words milk and honey instill positive connotations to virtually every human being. Their presence in the land demonstrates a good economy. This goes so far that honey is actually the word used to describe any “sweet” concept. Milk and milk products are universally rich and fatty substances.

Bees Honey Comb
Bees Honey Comb

Riesh Lakish was an Emora during the Talmudic period. He says that he saw a lamb grazing under a fig tree dripping with honey. The lamb itself was dripping its milk onto the honey. He said that this represented the land flowing with milk and honey. (Ketubot 111b)In the Torah honey generally refers to date honey. However, several uses of the word honey refer to bee’s honey as well as others that refer to any honey like substance that easily exudes from fruit.
 

Our Rabbis of Blessed Memory have additionally said that the fruit of Israel are fatty like milk and sweet like honey. (Ketubot 112a)

Tefillin Shel Yad worn on the arm with the 7 lines of the Shma Yisrael prayer.
Tefillin Shel Yad worn on the arm with the 7 lines of the Shma Yisrael prayer.

It seems that the term honey is in reality a difficult word to specifically understand. Above we saw that Reish Lakish leaves the term honey open ended by referring to fig “honey” while discussing the phrase, “A land flowing with milk and honey.” However, what the words milk and honey include seems to be a disagreement of Tanaim of the Mishnaic period.

According to Rabi Eliezer milk in “Milk and Honey” means that the milk of the fruits is very rich and that the honey refers only to Date Honey. However, Rabi Akiva disagrees and says that milk refers to real milk and that honey refers to “Yearot Dvash” “Yearot Honey .“ (Mechilta Derashb”i)

 

Sugar Cane Juice Sold in Israel
Sugar Cane Juice Sold in Israel

There is further disagreement between Rashi and his school of thought and Radak as to what “Yearot Dvash” means. According to Rashi it means canes with honey in them that grow in Israel. It seems possible that Rashi refers to cane sugar or perhaps another sweet cane. However, Rada”k questions Rashi’s source material and then says that “Yearot Dvash” refers to ordinary bee’s honey combs. (Shmuel 1 14 25)

Stubborn People need a land with great natural resources

In Parashat Ki Tisa The Holy one Blessed be He stated that he would not himself lead the people of Israel into the Holy land instead an Angel will do this. “A land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go in your midst, since you are a stiff-necked people, lest I destroy you on the way.” (Shemot 33 3)

On this Pasuk Seforno points out that the Jewish people need a land that is naturally rich. They are a stiff-necked people. Do to this they will not be successful living in a place like the desert where they need constant miracles to survive.

Dairy products are central to many Jewish customs. On Shavuot we eat dairy. Many say that this is because the Jewish people did not have time to learn the laws of Shchita (ritual slaughtering) and Kashrut laws. Therefore, they ate dairy.

ID-10058272

Honey has left a great impact on the Jewish people. Although a tiny portion of the worlds population is Jewish we consume 20% of the world’s honey. This was pointed out to me by the people buy honey sellers who thought that  as a Jewish website milknhoney.co.il must want to market their honey. The most famous of these sweet customs is on Rosh Hashana when almost every Jew in the world dips an apple in honey.

 

Rabbi Steve Bar Yakov Gindi writing Tefillin parchments
Rabbi Steve Bar Yakov Gindi writing Tefillin parchments