Posts Tagged ‘Vayikra’

“If a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she will be unclean for seven days. . . And on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” (Leviticus 12:2-3)

Questions: What does the circumcision of a baby have to do with the ritual purity of its mother? And why are these numbers so important? Seven days? Eight days? Can you think of other series of numbers in our lives that are important? What is the significance of the number seven? Of the number eight?

Ideas: Add an eighth layer to your seven-layer salad, or seven layer cake! Put out items of food in multiples of seven or eight: cookies, pretzels, veggies – talk about the number of items at your table and why they are there in that way. Food that needs to marinate is also great – cook something up that needs to marinate for seven or eight days – you can do this even with your kids – then spend the week waiting for it to be ready – talk about what it feels like to have to wait, and what the value is in this.

Silhouette of summer garden BBQ isolated against fire

Recipe for Eight Day Brisket here


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One of the things I notice now, since I finished all the photo shoots for my cookbook, is that I look at food differently. I was cutting up garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots for today’s recipe and all of the sudden, the mundane turned into art. I started to think about the arrangement of what I was cutting, and how the photographer would have arranged the peels, the knife, the cutting board, the vegetables. I noticed how beautiful the carrots were, both before I peeled them, and after. I noticed how beautiful the potato peels were, and the contrast of the two orange colors of the carrots and sweet potatoes, and of the whites of the potatoes and garlic cloves. And I think more than anything that is one of the things I try to do in my cookbook – to find the beauty in the mundane, to find the culinary references in the simple text. To bring carrots, potatoes and garlic to life in the way my photographer was able to do meant that he saw the vegetables differently, just like I try to see, and help others to see the Bible in a different, more tasty and tactile light. There is much beauty in the Bible, and it’s not in elaborate pageants and great shows of wealth, it’s in the simple things: carrots, potatoes, garlic, stones, sand and stars.

“Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took a pan, put fire in it, placed incense upon it, and they brought a strange fire before God which he had not commanded. And fire went forth from God and consumed them, and they died.” (Leviticus 10:1-2)

Questions: While the text makes it clear that Nadab and Abihu died, and that they brought a “strange fire” into the sanctuary which God had not commanded them, we are not told why this fire was “strange.” Why couldn’t Aaron’s sons bring an extra offering to God? What was “strange” about their fire?

Ideas: BBQ! Serve anything flame-roasted to get the conversation started about fire, and what makes some fires strange and others less strange. Anything hot and spicy could work too. Some commentators suggest that Nadab and Abihu were drunk, so douse your chicken in wine, or simmer your beef in some broth.

I am making Flame Roasted Drunken Chicken this week. Recipe here.


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I just finished five fabulous days of photography for my cookbook “Eating the Bible” which is forthcoming from Skyhorse Publishing in September 2013. It’s been a very exciting process, but also an exhausting one and I haven’t been able to manage to do much except obsess about every aspect of the photo shoots and the recipes.

The most exciting part is that the book is already up on Amazon! And Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads, and probably all sorts of places I haven’t even seen yet! It is available for pre-order, even though we don’t have a cover up yet. But the cover is coming….very very soon.

My family and I are going into the weekend with a fridge full of fabulous food that I made this past Wednesday – the day of the last photo shoot.

Our menu:
Honey Coriander Manna Bread
Crispy Potato Nests with three fillings (creamy mushroom, sundried tomato and chicken, and roasted vegetables)
Golden Brisket with Roasted Root Vegetables
Turkey Meatloaf with Cranberry Haroset
Curried Jasmine Rice with Figs
Cat’s Got Your Tongue Cookies
Apple Mounds in Pastry Dough

And I’ll throw together a salad from all the leftover fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs!

I look forward to explaining all the dishes to my guests. We have invited over good friends, and they invited over five hungry teens! So between our kids and their kids and the extra teen stomachs I have no doubt that all the food will be gone in no time! I am having over my friend Dina, who is personally responsible for making my Gingerbread Tabernacle happen. Without her it would have been shabby looking indeed.

Stay tuned for more cookbook updates and I wish all of your a fabulous weekend. Spring is in the air! I’ve added a new recipe to the blog for Mincha Spice Cookies, though we tend to make spice cookies in the winter, when we want to warm up with a mug of hot cider or cocoa and something sweet and spicy, the addition of the almonds and the sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar gives it a springy feel. Enjoy!

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“And if a soul brings a meal offering to the Lord, his offering shall be of fine flour. He shall pour oil over it and place frankincense upon it.” (Leviticus 2:1)

Questions: In every other mention of the offerings one can voluntarily bring in Leviticus, the individual bringing the offering is referred to as a person or a man, in Hebrew: “Adam.” However, when speaking of the meal offering, the person is referred to as a soul, in Hebrew: “nefesh.” What is unique about the meal offering that the person who brings it is referred to in this way? What differentiates a “man” from a “soul”? Why is one of the simplest offerings the one offered by a “soul” rather than a “man”?

Ideas: Serve anything made from “fine flour,” olive oil or spices. Artisan bread dipped in olive oil, or even cinnamon-raisin bread. Spice cookies or cinnamon buns are a great choice too!

Recipe for Tasty Mincha Cookies here

spice cookies

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“You will eat very old produce, and you will clear out the old from before the new.” (Leviticus 26:10)

Questions: Why does God enumerate so many blessings and curses in this chapter of the Bible? What is a blessing? What is a curse? Why is eating old produce considered a blessing?

Ideas: Serve anything aged, from apple cobbler or pie made from “aged” apples in your fridge that were going bad, to the best aged wine, whiskey, steak or cheese.

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“And you shall count for yourself seven sabbatical years, seven years seven times. And the days of these seven sabbatical years shall amount to forty-nine years for you.” (Leviticus 25:8)

“And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year, and proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live on it. It shall be a Jubilee for you, and you shall return, each man to his property, and you shall return, each man to his family.” (Leviticus 25:10)

Questions: Why do we need to count these years? What is the point of these laws? What do they mean? What is God trying to teach us – and why do we need both of these different types of special agricultural years?

Ideas: Make a pretend golden anniversary celebration for God and the world. Purchase 50th anniversary plates, balloons and décor. Concoct a cherries jubilee cocktail and toast your freedom, committing to give yourself a fresh chance.

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“Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: The Lord’s appointed holy days that you shall designate as holy occasions – these are My appointed holy days. Six days, work may be performed, but on the seventh day, it is a complete rest day, a holy occasion; you shall not perform any work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places. These are the Lord’s appointed holy occasions, which you shall designate in their appointed time.” (Leviticus 23:2–4)

Questions: Though this chapter of the Bible starts out telling us about the holidays, the verses then go on to discuss the Sabbath – why would this be? What makes a holiday a special time? What makes the weekend or Sabbath a special time? What sanctifies a day and makes it holy?

Ideas:Serve items associated with each of the holidays mentioned above, apples dipped in honey, dairy products, an empty plate perhaps to symbolize the day of atonement, matzah for Passover, and a harvest food for the Tabernacle Festival. Alternatively you can serve food items that represent the weekend or the Sabbath to you – your favorite foods.

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