Parashat Eikev-- Deuteronomy 7:12-11:32
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Questions for Young Children
• God repeats all that God did for the Israelites in the desert for 40 years. Can you remember some of the miracles God performed?
• In the book of Deuteronomy (8:7-9), God tells the Israelites ten times that Eretz Yisrael is a good land. What do you think makes a land good?
• Why should we thank God after eating? Why might we forget to say thank-you when we have a lot of everything we need?

Questions for Older Children
• Why do you think God tells the Israelites that they are to destroy the enemies God delivers to them but that it will be a slow process? Why do you think God didn’t just destroy the enemies quickly, by God’s self?
• Do you think that the text is correct that B’nei Yisrael might forget about thanking God once they prosper? Why or why not?
• Have you ever had a success and forgotten who helped you achieve that success?

Questions for Teens and Adults
• How realistic is the warning that once B’nei Yisrael prosper they might assume that they did it themselves and forget God’s role?
• In chapter 9, Moshe recites a lot of bad memories from the Exodus, examples when B’nei Yisrael questioned or disobeyed God. What purpose is served by remembering negative behavior?
• The speech in this parasha that Moshe delivers could be called his closing argument to B’nei Yisrael to persuade them to follow God’s laws. How persuasive are Moshe’s arguments? Would they make you feel ready to conquer Eretz Yisrael?

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Create a Shabbat dinner showcasing Israeli products
In light of this week’s parasha celebrating the agricultural riches of Eretz Yisrael and preparing B’nei Yisrael to enter the Land of Israel, you might consider buying  Israeli products for your Shabbat dinner. Not only does it align with the parasha, it has the added benefit of offering token economic support for Israel.

  • Select from the familiar brands easily available in local groceries like Osem, Telma, Carmel
  • Try shopping on the internet.  If you search for Israeli food products, you'll discover a wealth of resources.
  •  If you're living in Israel, no problem!

 

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Moshe continues his farewell address to B’nei Yisrael in this parasha. The future is presented as a series of consequences. B’nei Yisrael will enter the Land but their sojourn in Eretz Yisrael and the quality of their life is determined by their own actions. If they obey God’s laws, all will be well with B’nei Yisrael. Moshe reminds B’nei Yisrael of their poor behavior and introduces the concept of z’khut avot (the merit of the ancestors). The Israelites will possess the land of Israel, not because they were obedient to God, but because God is fulfilling his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The parasha includes verses that may be familiar to you from Birkat ha-Mazon, the Grace after Meals (8:10) and the Sh’ma. (11:13 ff).

Find the food connection...

אֶרֶץ חִטָּה וּשְׂעֹרָה, וְגֶפֶן וּתְאֵנָה וְרִמּוֹן; אֶרֶץ-זֵית שֶׁמֶן, וּדְבָשׁ

...a land of wheat and barley, of vines, fig, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey.

--Deuteronomy 8:8

The Seven Species!(Shivat ha-minim)!

The SIde Dish

As a child, I was a very fussy eater. Particularly galling to me were school lunches. We had to eat the prepared lunches served family style under the eagle eye of the teacher at the head of the table. The worst was so-called dessert--canned fruit swimming in syrup. Until I reached Eretz Yisrael in 1964, I had never eaten a fresh peach or plum. When I ate an Israeli plum and peach, I couldn’t believe the flavor. I still feel that Israeli produce has a special intensity of flavor.  I encourage you to enjoy the produce when you travel to Eretz Yisrael. Prove to yourself that Moshe was not exaggerating Eretz Yisrael’s agricultural riches!

Here’ another plug for my favorite site in Eretz Yisrael -- Neot Kedumim (http://www.neot-kedumim.org.il/), the park that includes a wealth of Biblical and post-Biblical plants. If you love Jewish text or love plants and beautiful views, you’ll enjoy a visit there. You’ll also catch a glimpse of some Biblical livestock wandering about the premises.

The verse I cited this week lists the Seven Species (shiv’at ha-minim): wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and honey. You can reprise your seven species dish for Tu B’Sh’vat. Another approach to the species is to include at least one of the foods in every course. B’tayavon! Enjoy the special foods of the Land of Israel.

 

 

 

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A Dash of Mystery—Where’s the Honey?
In this recipe there’s no honey mentioned, yet it's mentioned in the verse as one of the seven species. In my recipe the dates are the honey—d’vash. For a brief discussion of the Hebrew word,
d’vash, see http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day/word-of-the-day-dvash-1.464042 You can also save this food trivia for the Rosh HaShana table.

A Dash of Anatomy
The name of this parasha, Eikev, means heel. Yaakov’s name is derived from the same root because he grabbed onto the heel of his twin brother as he was born. Here, the term is used to mean “as a consequence of” or, we might say in English,“on the heels of.” If you’re not interested in thinking too much about recipes for Shabbat, this week you could place a heel of bread on the table to jump start your Shabbat table talk.

A Dash of Birkat ha-Mazon +Music
If it’s not your custom to recite the Grace after Meals, perhaps this Shabbat is a time to begin. You could start with the recitation of 8:10, the commandment to thank God after eating your fill or you could read through the first paragraph of the Birkat haMazon. For help, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBVZlIvRtPo. You’ll note that in this video three men count as a m’zuman (the required number to recite Birkat ha-Mazon aloud) and ten men as a minyan although in the Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform movements we count men and women over Bar/Bat Mitzvah age as a m’zuman or minyan.

A Dash of Bibliography
Here’s a cookbook that combines Jewish cooking and gardening. It’s a little late in the season, but you might want to take a look as you plan for next year’s garden. The all vegetarian cookbook is entitled The Jewish Gardening Cookbook: Growing Plants and Cooking for Holidays and Festivals by Michael Brown. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998.



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7 Species Salad
Pareve and vegan--serves 8 to10rsz 03 akev 7 species copy

Barley--prepare at least 4 hrs. ahead

  • 1/2 to 1 cup pearl barley

Salad ingredients 

  • 1 bag of baby spinach or spring lettuces
  • seeds from a ripe pomegranate (Trader Joe’s sells pomegranate seeds in the produce dept. in a plastic pack)
  • 6-8 figs, quartered
  • handful of seedless grapes, halved
  • handful of green or black olives, pitted and halved
  • 4 dates, sliced
  • Croutons 

Dressing ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1½ Tbsp. warm water
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. minced garlic
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. ground pepper

Directions

  1. Prepare the barley according to the package directions and allow to cool.
  2. Combine the salad ingredients (including the cooled barley) in a large bowl.
  3. In a food processor or a bowl, combine all ingredients except the olive oil.
  4. Pour the olive oil in a slow stream through the feeding tube while you continue to emulsify the dressing. If using a bowl instead of a food processor, whisk the olive oil into the other ingredients.
  5. Toss the salad with the dressing when ready to serve. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.

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