Archive for the ‘Exodus’ Category

It’s Passover for many people this week and it’s almost Easter, and all over the world (even in places that are still covered with snow) it’s the very very beginning of springtime. It’s also my birthday today, so this is a time of year that I have always been particularly connected to, and in tune with. Where I live, it’s signaled by the blossoming of almond tress and the sprouting up of wild bulbs – iris, poppy,  and daffodil shoots burst out of the ground, ready to blossom. It’s also a time where it is easy to see the hand of God everywhere – in small things like the blossoming of flowers, the re-awakening of the world from it’s winter slumber. It’s a time that it’s easy to be grateful too – for family and friends that many of us are surrounded by during these holidays and festivals, but also for little things like the sun on your face for the first time in months, and for warmer temperatures.

I am thankful for many things, but this week it’s for all the emails and tweets and facebook messages from people who have been posting about my cookbook and talking about it – being excited with me that it’s finally coming out, and remembering the meals they ate at my home and test kitchen over the past twelve years since the idea for the cookbook first came to me. I am also mega-grateful to all those that have already pre-ordered the cookbook – that has meant so much to me – and left me both grinning and with tears in my eyes at the same time. Thank you. And keep them coming!

All of this is a long way to say that I find what happens in Exodus Chapter 33 very odd. Moses wants to see God face to face. He says to God, “look, we’ve come this far together, don’t I at least get to see what you look like?” But God refuses. The closest he will let Moses get to him is this verse:

“And behold, when My glory passes over, I shall put you in the cleft of the rock, and I will place My hand over you until I pass.” (Exodus 33:22)

And that made me think that it’s kind of like what we feel now during the springtime – the presence of God everywhere – in all the little things, flowers, friends, family, sunshine, and yes, in crevices of stone too. The hand of God as it “passes over” us and renews the land, the hand of God in baby chicks and lambs and springtime.

Questions: Why do you think God refused to let Moses see his face? Would you want to see the face of God? Why do you think God put Moses into a crack in a rock? What do you think God’s hand felt like to Moses? What are the ways in which you feel God’s hand in your life?

Ideas: spread frosting, peanut butter, marshmallow fluff or chocolate spread between any two cookies to create a “rock” with a filled crevice. Hand-shaped cookies are appropriate as well –  they can “pass-over” some round rock-shaped cookies. You can draw a face on a cookie and then serve them turned over (hidden), or any kind of pie without a top-crust (store bought or home-made) can be called an “open-face” pie.

face cookie

I offer to all of you a recipe appropriate for both Passover and Easter: Chocolate Filled Meringue Cookies

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“And they embittered their lives with hard labor, with mortar and with bricks and with all kinds of labor in the fields, all their work that they worked with them with back-breaking labor.” (Exodus 1:14)

Questions: What is the difference between “hard labor,” work with “mortar and bricks” and “all kinds of labor in the fields”? Why does the Bible list these different types of work like this: “all the work that they worked with back breaking labor“? Ok, we get the point. They worked hard. Enough! Is it just for emphasis? Or is there something else going on here?

Ideas: Use peanut butter, apple butter, caramel spread, chocolate spread or any other thick and gooey, mortar-like substance to put together cookie pr cracker “bricks”. Hummus or cream cheese could be used as mortar too.

spread cookie

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“They brought the Tabernacle to Moses, the Tent and all its utensils: its hooks, its planks, its bars its pillars and its sockets.” (Exodus 39:33)

Questions: Why was the tabernacle brought to Moses? Wasn’t he involved all along? Did it need his approval? Didn’t he approve everything already? What now was Moses’ task?

Ideas: Use Petit-Buerre cookies or graham crackers to have children and adults at your table assemble their own mini versions of the tabernacle (mishkan) using ready made frosting as the “glue”. This can also be done after dinner with a deck of cards or dominoes (minus the frosting!)

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“Moses said to the children of Israel: ‘See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. He has imbued him with the spirit of God, with wisdom, with insight, and with knowledge, and with [talent for] all manner of craftsmanship to do master weaving, to work with gold, silver, and copper.’” (Exodus 35:30–32)

Questions: Why does the Bible need to tell us that Bezalel was talented? Isn’t obvious that God would choose someone talented to build the tabernacle (mishkan)? And anyway, then it tells us that God gave him wisdom, insight, knowledge and talent, so was he really talented? Are all gifts God-given?

Ideas: Set your table with a woven tablecloth, have your children create works of art for display on or around your table, serve bread in baskets to represent Bezalel’s weaving, purchase or make a lattice-topped pie, or simply weave your regular challah or bread recipe in a different – more artistic way! You can also serve Triscuit crackers or Rice/Corn Chex or make Crispix Mix – any kind of cracker or cereal that has a woven form to it will do. Different color strands of fettuccini, Twizzlers or fruit roll up strips can also be woven.

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“He took (the gold) from their hands, and fashioned it with an engraving tool into a molten calf, upon which they said: ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’” (Exodus 32:4)

Questions: Why do you think that Aaron agreed to help make the golden calf? Is he as much to blame as the people were? It seems so out of character for Aaron to agree to this! What do you think happened? Have you ever been in a situation when you have done something against your better judgment? What happened?

Ideas: Serving any kind of roast or beef, even meatloaf will do to represent the calf. Set your table with a golden tablecloth or table runner, decorate the table with gold confetti or golden napkin rings – anything glittery or sparkly with which to decorate your table – or your meatloaf!

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“You will command the children of Israel to bring pure pressed olive oil for the lighting of the eternal menora.” (Exodus 27:20)

Questions: Why does the Bible enumerate that the olive oil must be “pure” and “pressed”? Why olive oil and not any other type of oil? What is special about oil? How was this menora (or candelabra) eternal? What does the Bible mean by eternal?

Ideas: Anything made with extra virgin olive oil or olives, “light” food items. Serve bowls of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping your bread. Light a candelabra in the middle of the table (use olive oil to kindle the flame of course!).

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“They shall make an ark of acacia wood…. You shall cover it with pure gold, within and without, and you shall make on it a golden crown all around.” (Exodus 25:10–11)
“You shall make a table of acacia wood…. You shall cover it with pure gold and you shall make for it a gold crown all around.” (Exodus 25:23–24)

Questions: Why do we encounter two crowns in Chapter 25 – one crown around an ark, and another around a table? This seems very strange. What could be the significance? What furniture in your house should be crowned? Is there a reason to crown something other than a person? What does a crown represent?

Ideas: Cut crown shapes out of puff pastry dough, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake until golden. Shape bread dough into a round crown shape. Spread a golden table cloth on your table and make some home-made paper crowns for decoration.

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“You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread as I have commanded you, at the appointed time of the month of springtime, for then you left Egypt…. And the festival of the harvest of the first fruits of your labors that you sow in the field, and the festival of the ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your work from the field.” (Exodus 23:15–16)

Questions: Why are so many of our holidays connected to food? Why are they always connected to a specific time of year? What is the significance of the harvest? What is so special about the number seven? Is it central to our lives? Why?

Ideas: Any bountiful spread of produce will do. Serve everything at your table in multiples of seven. Invite seven guests! Incorporate some or all of the seven species into your meal, make a seven layer salad, purchase or make a seven-layer cake, or make your favorite holiday dish!

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“The people remained far off, but Moses drew near to the thick cloud, where God was.” (Exodus 20:17)

Questions: Why did the people remain far away? Do you think you would have wanted to be close to the mountain? Why did God appear in a thick cloud? Why not in a pillar of fire? Aren’t clouds a little gloomy?

Ideas: Serve marshmallows, dark chocolate, chocolate covered marshmallows, and anything with whipped cream (which you can darken a bit with cinnamon or cocoa powder for effect!). Purchase or make meringues, or serve fruit with whipped cream to represent the “thick clouds.” Any “dark” chocolate dessert can be used to represent the “darkness,” and serving plenty of alcohol will be sure to make everyone a little “foggy”!

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“The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, it was white, and it tasted like a wafer with honey.” (Exodus 16:31)

Questions: What was manna? Why was it called by that name? What types of food do we eat the resemble or remind you of manna? If you could eat something that tasted every day like something else what would it be? What texture would it have? How do you eat differently on the weekends? What is your double portion?

Ideas: Use coriander to spice up your food in any recipe, add cilantro (the leaves of the coriander plant) to your salad, serve tofu or any other bland white food that resembles manna, you can serve honey-glazed doughnuts for dessert!

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