Saturday, October 30, 2010

Toldot 5771--Lentil Stew and Dysfunctional Families

Show Notes

Toldot 5771

Suri’s essay, while a commentary on Hayei Sarah is still pertinent to us as we read Toldot.  This was reprinted with her permission.

127 Heirs

Just this week, while sitting in my Advanced Wealth Transfer class, my professor, a Catholic, was relating to the class a case of a Brooklyn family, very wealthy,  who, as a couple, are  permitted by law to give $26,000/per person/per year. The IRS audited this estate because they felt that the $3,302,000 in annual gifts was too great.  The professor then had the task of showing the IRS that this couple had 7 children, and each child had many children, etc. until at this point, this couple had 127 heirs, to whom they were allowed to give $26,000/year tax free.  127 heirs?  How haphazard a number is that, the professor asked the class.

It's a small class, so I responded, it isnt haphazard at all, it is the number of years that Abraham's wife Sarah lived, and the number of Persian provinces over which Queen Esther reigned.  "So, the Professor replied, do you think the couple had this number of heirs purposefully.?"  I replied, "even if it was not the couple's exact intent, it was obviously G-d's intent."  A moment of silence, and we moved on.

There are no coincidences.  That this case came up this week made me pause.  It is midterm week, and the midterm problem was to take the $24mm estate and plan so that it could pass to the heirs estate tax free.

Sarah lived 127 years and each day of each year brought merit to future generations.  After all, she lived most of her life childless, she had no thought of transmitting her merits to her own children, she did it for us, for future children, whom she would never know.  She placed her merits in a Dynasty Trust for us that generations later, it could merit another woman, Esther, who would also sacrifice herself for us.  She reigned over 127 provinces, in the merit of each of Sarah's 127 years.  She gave up her husband Mordechai and her nation and had a child with Achashverosh, who would permit the Jews to return to Eretz Yisrael and rebuild the Temple.

This week's Parshah states that "Hashem Bayrach et Avraham Bakol," that G-d blessed Abraham with it all.  Was it wealth that the parshah was referring to?  No.  It was children.  Finally he had a son who would inherit and take over his Jewish heritage.

As I plugged away at my midterm this week, bothering Jeffrey Rosenberg of Yale Brokerage to provide me life insurance numbers,  I thought of this Orthodox man with $24mm and 127 heirs, and I understood that his wealth was not from the former number, but from the latter number.
Good Shabbos.


Lentil Stew Recipe

Jacob’s Lentil Stew—But you don’t have to sell your birthright to eat it!

(Based on the Mediterranean Lentil-Eggplant Stew from the Sunset International Vegetarian Cookbook)

1 large onion
Olive Oil
Garlic (3-5 cloves)
1 large celery stalk thinly sliced
(You could also use a celery root sliced very thinly)
2 large carrots thinly sliced.
Basil 1-2 tsps
Oregano 1-2 tsps
Cilantro 1-2 tsps.  (better to use a bunch of fresh cilantro)
12 oz red lentils or brown lentils
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1-1/2 lbs of eggplant cut into ½ inch cubes
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste (optional)
¼ cup red win vinegar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt (optional)
1/8 teaspoon pepper (optional)
1-2 tsp ground cumin (optional)
Chopped parsley

Slice onion and sauté in 4-5 quart pot.  Add in onions, garlic, celery, carrots, basil, oregano and cilantro.  Sauté until onions are translucent and the carrots and celery are partially cooked.  Add the lentils, water and vegetable or chicken stock to the pot and let boil.  When the pot begins to boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover pot and let cook for 1 hour.

While the pot is cooking heat a frying pan and use oil/and/or chicken broth to sauté the eggplant.  You can add in ground cumin and cover the pot until the eggplant is browned and softened.  After 1 hour add eggplant mixture to the lentils and also add the tomato paste, vinegar and/or red wine, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Continue simmering for about 1 more hour or until the vegetables are tender.  Add more water and/or vegetable stock if the stew starts to stick to the pot.

You can serve this with couscous, quinoa or brown rice for a really hearty meal.

To learn more about Droit de seigneur and/or Primae noctis you can read this quick article at wikipedia.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hayei Sarah 5771

I WON!  I won 5th place in the novice spinning competition at the New York Sheep and Wool festival!

The Cave by Composer Steve Reich and Beryl Korot is a wonderful performance piece delving into the meaning and imagery of the Cave of Machepelah and its importance to our world today.

Don’t forget to check out Forgotten Classics at: to hear more from Robert Alter on the difficulties of biblical translation. 

You can now find Torah Threads at Itunes!

My Winning Skein of Yarn with its Ribbon!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Show Notes Vayera 5771

(look for the PDF of this week's parasha in the widget for JPS on the right sidebar)

Show notes Vayera 5771

The video of felting which I watched which proved I was not more talented than a fifth grader was found at, see Oliart.

The 10 Trials of Abraham
According to Maimonides
1. God tells Abraham to leave his homeland to be a stranger in the Land of Canaan.
2. Immediately after Abraham arrives in Canaan there is famine.
3. The Egyptians capture his beloved wife, Sarah, and bring her to Pharaoh.
4. Abraham faces incredible odds in the battle of the four and five kings.
5. Abraham conceives a child with Hagar after not being able to have children with Sarah
6. Circumcision. 
7. The king of Gerar captures Sarah, intending to take her for himself.
8. God tells him to send Hagar and Ishmael away.
9. His son, Ishmael, becomes estranged.
10. God tells him to sacrifice his dear son Isaac upon an altar.

Forgotten Classics by Julie with the Reading of Robert Alter’s translation of Genesis  can be found at, or you can subscribe to it at Itunes.

Don’t forget to answer the questions in today’s shows and send the comments on to me so you can be entered into our Contest!

Have a good week!
To find out more about our sponsor, Frisky Lamb Farm go to

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lech Lecha

Happy Birthday to me!  It was my birthday when I recorded this podcast….of course, when you listen to it…it will be over and I will simply be old.

You can find Jboomers on Facebook.  If you are interested in attending the Jboomers Klezmer Brunch at City Winery on Nov 21, send a note to Jboomers through facebook.

New York Sheep and Wool, Oct 16-17 in Rhinebeck, NY.  You can look for my skein entries in the novice category.  (1 skein is purple and pink, the other two are grey, pink and blue and very sparkly).  Maybe I’ll even win a ribbon or something!  The last time I entered an artistic type contest was when I was 10  or 11 years old!  (I won!)

Thank you Linda Hirschhorn for giving me permission to play her song “Sarah and Hagar” as performed by Vocolot on their Album Heart Beat.   Heart Beat is available at Itunes.  You can find more information about Linda and Vocolot by clicking on the links below.

Two Contests
Donation Drawing:
If you donate to Torah Threads during the month of October you can win either a personalized yad or a skein of handspun wool.
You can send a donation by clicking on the paypal link at

If you submit a short essay about the relationship between the children Ishmael and Isaac, your feelings about the pre-ordained strife mentioned in this week’s portion and/or the implications of the strife arising from the relationship of Sarah and Hagar, you are eligible to win a personalized yad or a skein of handspun wool.  I will read the winning essay on a show in early November.  Please submit your essays to me at:
Our Sponsor, Frisky Lamb Farm is now taking orders for fresh, 100% grass fed, humanely raised lamb on our 75 acre pesticide free farm.  If you live in the Binghamton area you can pick up the meat directly from the farm.  If you live in NY, we can make arrangements for delivery in early December.

The chart below shows relationship of Torah to other forms of Jewish Literature.  More on this in the coming weeks

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Show Notes Parshat Noah 5771

Special Thanks to Rabbi Arthur Waskow, author of Godwrestling-Round 2, founder of The Shalom Center,, for allowing me to use his "Haftarah for a Rainbow Covenant". You can find his work based on Torah teachings at the Shalom Center website or in his book.  He has done amazing work for many years.  You will undoubtedly hear me speak many times in the future about the concept of eco-kashrut which I learned first from him.  I thank him for inspiring me throughout the years.  You can find the text for the Poem “Haftarah for a Rainbow Covenant” at
Special Thanks to Glenn Manion & Suzanne Smithline and Squeaky Clean for letting me use Glenn's "The Marvelous Relationship" from their "Pull Together album".  Pull Together is their school assembly program on character education.  The program help students learn that they will need to accept people of all backgrounds and value each other's talents so that they can work together to solve global problems.  This song, based on something Glenn learned in high school biology helps show that even a little bird can make a contribution to the world.  This is one small example of their genius and talent!  They are amazing people as well as fabulous musicians.  Go to their website, to learn more about them.  You can buy their album at Itunes. 
Biblical Criticism:  Some References & a Short version explanation
The Documentary Hypothesis
Scholars believe that the biblical text went through four basic strands of editing commonly denoted as the J-E-P-D strands.  The J strand is described as J because it stands for the Yawahist strand—the Strand using tettrgramaton—the Four letter name of God which we do not pronounce today.  The  letter yod which begins the Hebrew name of God is transposed into English as a J, which is why Jehovah’s witnesses use the J in their attempt to pronounce God’s ineffable name.  Approximately 10 C. BCE

The E strand is the strand known as the Elohist strand. It uses the term elohim frequently.  900-800 BCE

The P strand is the strand known as the Priestly strand.  It is the text placed to elevate the status of the priesthood and is prominent in the book of Leviticus. 8th C-6th C BCE

The D strand is the strand known as the “Deuteronomy strand”.  It is probably the latest editing and features texts that comport to the modifications of the book of Deuteronomy.  600-400 C BCE.

For more information you can look at 

For information about the Shabbat of Healing for the Climate go to, or

Blessing On Seeing a Rainbow:
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh zokher
hab'rit v'ne'eman bivrito v'kayam b'ma'amaro.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who remembers the covenant, and is faithful to God's covenant,
and keeps God's promise. 
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יהוה
אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶך
זוכֵר הַבְּרִית וְנֶאֱמָן בִּבְרִיתו
וְקַיָּם בְּמַאֲמָרו.

Genesis 6:9-11:32
Two versions of the Story

God saw humanity’s wickedness and God regretted that God had made them.  The Eternal’s heart was saddened

Then God said to Noah, “Go into the ark for you alone have I found righteous….take with you seven pairs of clean and one pair of unclean animals, and seen pairs of birds. I will send forty days and nights of rain.

After seven days the Flood came.  Rain fell for forty days and nights.  Noah sent out a dove, but the dove found no place to rest; he waited seven days, and the dove came back with an olive leaf.  After another seven days the dove went out but did not return.

Noah left he ark.  He built an altar and sacrificed of every clean animal and clean bird.  God in turn promised never to bring another flood. 

God saw how corrupt humanity was and God said to Noah:  “I have decided to put an end to all flesh.

Make yourself an ark.  Take with you two of everything that lives, male and female, of birds, cattle, and creeping things.

In the six-hundredth year of Noah’s life in the second month, on the seventeenth day the rain began.  The waters swelled for one hundred and fifty days.  At the end of that time the waters diminished.   Noah sent out a raven.  It went to and fro until the waters had dried up.

In Noah’s six hundred and first year, on the twenty-seventh day of the second month, he and his family left the ark.  God then made a covenant with Noah and set God’s rainbow in the sky as a sign that God would not bring another flood.