Pre-High Holidays Musings (part 3)

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The third and fourth phrases Rabbi Riemer encouraged people to say more often were “How are you?” and “What do you need?”. Rabbi Telushkin explains that by asking these questions we take into account the person we are addressing as an individual, and not in their relation to us.

Conversely at present in France, people tend to say “tu vas bien?” which more or less corresponds to “you’re fine?”. This leaves very little room for the person we are talking to to say no and explain what is wrong. Unwillingly we are sending the message that we just want to be polite and go on with our own life without taking the risk of being disturbed by something we might not want to hear.

I find the second sentence more difficult to apply in my everyday life -except when dealing with people I am close to – but maybe this is because I am not trying hard enough.

Pre-High Holidays Musings (part 1)

Pre-High Holidays Musings (part 2)

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Sweet-and-Sour Vegetable Stew

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Adapted from A Fistful of Lentils by Jennifer Alicia Abadi.

I tried Chuderah fil Meh’leh, sweet-and-sour vegetable stew in a pot, a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. Although I more or less followed the original, I made a few alterations which you can find in the brackets.

LAYERS:
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used less)
2 cups chopped yellow onions (I sliced them)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 large baking white potatoes, peeled and cubed
3/4 cup pitted prunes, about 20
2 cups cubed black eggplant
1 cup canned unsalted crushed tomatoes

SAUCE:
One 6-ounce can unsalted tomato paste (I skipped this altogether and used the tomato juice from the can mentioned above; just don’t forget to include it in the liquid measurements)
2 cups cold water
1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcester Sauce, preferably Lea & Perrins)
1 tbsp tamarind paste (luckily this ingredient is optional; I skipped this too as I had no tamarind sauce)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 dark brown sugar, omit if using tamarind sauce
1/4 tsp cinammon
2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the layers. Pour the oil into a heatproof casserole, making sure it is spread evenly.

In the following order, proceed to layer only half of each ingredient at a time into the casserole: onions, sweet and white potatoes (together), prunes, eggplant and tomato pieces. Repeat this with the remaining ingredients.

Prepare the sauce. In a medieum-sized bowl, dissolve the tomato paste in the water. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well. Pour the sauce evenly over the top of the casserole. Cover and simmer over low to medium-low heat for 1 hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Taste the sauce to check the sweet-andsour taste. Add some sugar if the sauce is too tart or lemon juice if it is too sweet.

Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Serve hot with rice.

Pre-High Holidays Musings (part 2)

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The second thing Rabbi Riemer encouraged his congregants to say more often is “I love you”. To make his point Rabbi Telushkin narrates the following story:

Once, a man stood at the grave of his wife following her funeral. After
some time had passed the Rabbi who conducted the service gently tried to coax
the grieving widower back to his car.
“You don’t understand, Rabbi,” the man wept. “I loved her.”
“I know you loved her,” the rabbi responded, “but you really should go home
now and try to rest.
“But I loved her, Rabbi” the man continued. “I loved her…and once, I almost
told her.”

Of course this is exaggerated and meant to make us smile. However Rabbi Telushkin reminds us that it is important to utter these simple words every now and again to the people who are dear to us.

I once read of someone who always made sure he and his wife had not quarelled – or had made ammends if they had argued – before he left his home. He emphasized that we never know what the future had in store and he didn’t want to feel sorry for the rest of life in case anything happened to her.

This struck me as a very sound piece of advice and one that we can extend to parents, children and close friends.

Pre-High Holidays Musings (part 1)

Pre-High Holidays Musings (part 1)

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As a way to prepare for the High Holidays, I re-read Words That Hurt, Words That Heal: How to Choose Words Wisely and Well by Rabbi Telushkin last Shabbat. I unfortunately believe that, in this area, there is always room for improvement, at least as far as I am concerned.

After dealing with the power of speech and Jewish law on this topic, Rabbi Telushki devotes a chapter to “words that heal”. He cites Rabbi Riemer and a sermon he once delivered on Yom Kippur asking his congregants to be careful about what they say to others. He urged them to use four simple phrases more often in their every day dealings with their fellow men. Rabbi Telushkin then suggests we add another one.

The first sentence is to say “thank you” more frequently. This reminded me of an anecdote I read in a parshah commentary by Rabbi Sacks a couple of weeks ago.

Because of his functions, Britain’s chief rabbi and his wife regularly give dinner parties. Obviously when these visitors leave they thank their hosts. Yet once a guest also asked to be taken to the kitchen to thank the people who had made and served the food. This unusual guest was no other than John Major, Britain’s former Prime Minister. He may have been less charismatic than his predecessor but he was obviously a man who did not believe it was below him to express gratitude.

Every day we come across a lot of people who do things for us – whether they are relatives, friends, colleagues, cleaners… Thanking them is easy, takes very little time and contributes to making the world a better place, even if it is in a very modest way.

Three in One Weekly Review with Old Siddur

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On My Blog

Photo Memes:
Too Hot for Some for SOOC and Summer Stock
Summer Fruit for SOOC and Summer Stock
Red Shared Bike for Ruby Tuesday
Beware: Play Street for Ruby Tuesday
Kosher Dining-Room for Sepia Scenes
Lübeck: Views from Canal for Window Views

Weekly Interview: Risa

Weekly Recipe: Bulgur and Chickpea Pilaf

Useful Iphone Apps for Jews

Jewish History in Hamburg (part 1)

Jewish History in Hamburg (part 2)

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

The view from here, Baila has moved

National Parks: Tel Chatzor Edition, a post by Mrs. S.

Farmers Market Reds, Leora shows a particularly colorful photo

Jew Wishes reviews They Dared Return

Rockin’ the Old Folks at Home, Ruti blogs about kibbud av v’aim

Thoughts For The Beginning of Year by Rabbi Barry Gelman

Exile and Redemption, a parshah post by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Soccer Dad hosts the current edition of Haveil Havalim while the latest KCC (the Kosher Cooking Carnival) is up at Batya’s