A Week Gone By


On My Blog

Photo memes:
Balsaminaceae, Chinese Flower & Budding Rose for Today’s Flowers
Red Soup for Ruby Tuesday

Mesorah Project Round Up

Parshat Va-Etchanan

A Question For Today

Weekly Recipe: Red Soup, in case you missed it among the photo memes

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

Seeking Comfort, a post by Leora

Something Unexpected, Rachel has some good news to share

Saying “please”, Shimshonit writes about a too often forgotten word

Rabbi Marc D. Angel shares some toughts on this week’s parshah

Michael reacts to The Morality Crisis In Orthodox Judaism

A Question For Today


Why isn’t Derech Eretz important any more?

To understand why I post this question, you should first read Westbankmama’s post Are There Other “Normal” Frum People Out There?; that is if you haven’t read it yet. The question is raised by Westbankmama herself in the comments.

Since it is a question I regularly ask myself -and not only in the context of separated buses – I thought I would post it and see what other people think.

Parshat Va-Etchanan


וְעָשִׂיתָ הַיָּשָׁר וְהַטּוֹב, בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה

And you shall do what is just and good in the eyes of God

As scandals pile upon scandals in Orthodox circles, it is tempting to find fault with Orthodox Judaism or with Judaism at large, or at least to feel demoralized by the whole situation.

Ironically it is may be quite appropriate that we have just started reading the book of Devarim. A book that includes numerous ethical injunctions.

Indeed Rabbi Joseph Telushkin reminds us that the verse above is such a fundamental guideline that the Talmud explains that the whole book became known as Sefer HaYashar, the “Book of the Right”, simply because of this verse.

In Cross Currents today, David Feldman reminds us how the Ramban explains this verse:

that mitzvah comes to express a fundamental truth of Jewish living. If one comes to the conclusion that his actions are permitted by the Torah even if they lack in basic decency, even if they are not good or upright, then that person is by definition mistaken. It is fundamentally impossible for lack of yashrus to coincide with the Torah’s vision.

In a fine article, The Morality Crisis in Orthodox Judaism, Jeffrey Goldberg wonders how we – as Jews – can respond to the current situation other than by being profoundly depressed and disgusted. He interviews Erica Brown whose conclusion invites us to react both personally and as a community.

I believe that the best way to combat the ethical morass that’s landed on our doorstep as a minority is to go out of our way to articulate our own distance from this behavior and to go out of our way to do acts of kindness for others that show us to be a moral light in the world.

Thanks Mother in Israel for pointing out the article.

Red Soup


The soup above is a variation of a soup I found on 101cookbboks.

Here is my own version:
1 cup green French lentils
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, sliced
cumin powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
cilantro, parsley or chives
1 egg per person

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the lentils, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion and salt and saute until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, cumin and water and continue cooking for a few more minutes, letting the soup come back up to a simmer.
Meanwhile gently warm the cream and add the cilantro, parsley or chives.
Poach eggs in water.
Ladle the soup into bowls, and serve with poached egg and a dollop of the cream.

Serves 3 to 4 people

On Tuesdays, just post any photo you like (it must be one of your own) that contains the color RED and then link to this blog.


Mesorah Project Round Up


Thanks to Raizy, Rachel, Mrs. S., Shimshonit and Michael for having made this project a success through your wonderful contributions. It has been an honor to host your posts.

The painting above was done by Leora who kindly allowed me to use it to conclude this project. When I first saw it over a year ago I found it both beautiful and moving. I also find that it evokes one aspect of Mesorah: the passing on of Judaism from one generation to the next. You might enjoy reading what Leora wrote about her painting.

Mesorah Project I

Mesorah Project II

Mesorah Project III

Mesorah Project IV

Mesorah Project V

Thursday Musings


Post title borrowed and adapted from Jewwishes’ Monday Musings

– Is the fact that I dreamt about school last night an indication that I should delve into the new textbooks, plan and prepare lessons? I will have two post-high school classes for the first time from September so I suppose my subconscious is telling me to be prepared.

– Why do some folks constantly advertize their whereabouts, actions, blog post and whatever befall them via Titter and FB and never visit other people’s blogs? The same applies to people who ask questions via the same media but never care to answer queries posted by others.

– I am subscribed to Halocho a day, a useful app on Facebook. Yet I was startled to read the following this morning:

Yesterday we learnt that the custom is to not eat meat and chicken and to not drink wine during the 9 days except on Shabbat.
How does one make Havdala this week?
One makes Havdala as usual this week using wine (and spices and a candle).
If there is a small child who can drink most of the cup of wine, then one gives it to him to drink. If not, then the person making Havdala drinks the wine.
Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 122:8

I understand that this is the law but knowing what we know today about the dangers of alcohol on children, I found it surprising that the author of this daily post hadn’t added a warning about alcohol or advised grape juice instead of wine.

– I cooked haddock for lunch today and everybody loved it. Place haddock in a shallow baking dish. Cover with milk and a little cream. Add sliced shallots, lots of pepper and red pepper flakes. Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes.

– Blog hopping can lead to wonderful discoveries. As I was reading the latest edition of kcc this morning, I clicked a link to Mimi’s kitchen to read her recipe for schnitzel. There one comment by Abbi praising a blog in Mimi’s food site list attracted my attention so I clicked on the link and stayed there for about an hour. Go to 101cookbooks and discover for yourself this wonderful healthy recipe journal.

Parshat Devarim


לֹא-תַכִּירוּ פָנִים בַּמִּשְׁפָּט, כַּקָּטֹן כַּגָּדֹל תִּשְׁמָעוּן

You shall not be partial in judgment: hear out low and high alike.

This verse from this week’s parshah is one of the numerous Torah lines requiring us to judge others fairly – see also Shemot 23:3 or Vayikra 19:15 for instance. Our Sages and later commentators have written extensively about our obligations regarding this aspect of Jewish law and its implications.

Thus in Journey to Virtue: The Laws of Interpersonal Relationships, in Business, Home and Society, Rabbi Avrohom Ehrman warns that we should use the same sympathetic standards in judging strangers than we use in judging someone close to us.

Conversely in A Code of Jewish Ethics, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin notes that some people tend to judge those closest to them most harshly.

If you fall into such a category, resolve to treat your family with the same courtesy and fairness you extend to others.

Regarding judging others fairly, I have always been made to feel uneasy when in some classes our administration refuses to punish students on the basis that they come from difficult backgrounds or have problems.

A remark last week by Moussa Nabati – a Jewish psychonalysist – on the French TV led me to understand my reaction. He contends that by judging each man fairly, whatever their personal circumstances, society acknowledges the equal dignity of all its citizens. Furthermore Nabati firmly believes that such a treatment enables most offenders to leave their shady past behind and regain the self-respect they need to consider the future more serenely.

Leora examines another aspect of this week’s portion