Parashat D’varim-- Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22
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Questions for Younger Children
• When you return from a trip with your family does everyone in your family remember the trip in the same way?
• Did Moshe leave anything out about the wandering in the desert that you remember?
• Why doesn’t he remind the Israelites about God’s helping them escape Egypt?

Questions for Older Children
• How do you think the Israelites feel before entering  Eretz Yisrael?
• How does Moshe help the Israelites mentally prepare to enter Eretz Yisrael?
• This is a kind of pep talk for the Israelites before entering Eretz Yisrael, but Moshe will not be with them. How do you think he feels giving this speech?

Questions for Teens and Adults
• Why do you think the Torah takes such pains to locate Moshe in time and space at the beginning of this book?
• If you were Moshe giving a farewell address, what’s the first event you’d cite? Where does Moshe begin?
• Is Moshe’s speech making it harder or easier for Joshua to take over?

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More ways to use katzefet

  • Buy whipped cream and spritz it on a dessert. In some markets, it will be difficult to find pareve whipped cream in a spritzer, but we've had lots of fun with our hard to find spritzer at dessert time.

Feel the Burn

  • If you find whipped cream at odds with Moshe’s slow burn that underlies this parasha, try sprinkling some red pepper on your food so everyone can feel the burn.
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In Hebrew, the name of the fifth book of the Torah, D'varim, means “words.” As with all books and parshiyot, the first word becomes the title. Much of Deuteronomy recapitulates the tribulations of the Israelites in the desert and the laws for the Israelites, which explains the Latin name “Deuteronomy,” a “second recounting of the laws.” This parasha opens with Moshe’s farewell speech to the Israelites in their fortieth year of wandering. Moshe summarizes their journey and doesn’t stint on remonstrating the Israelites for their stubbornness and doesn’t sentimentalize the 40 year trip. The Israelites are reminded of the rewards for obedience to God. The parasha ends on an upbeat note as Moshe encourages the Israelites to remember that God will battle for them against the tribes living in Canaan.

Find the food connection...

וַיִּשְׁמַע יְהוָה, אֶת-קוֹל דִּבְרֵיכֶם; וַיִּקְצֹף

When God heard your complaints, God was angry.
--Deuteronomy 1:34

Whipping Cream!
Since this parasha is entitled D'varim, words, I chose to play with the word, vyiktzof (he was angered). The root of the word, k-tz-f, was
the basis for the modern Hebrew word for whipped cream, katzefet.


The Side Dish

Modern Hebrew evolved from Biblical times, but it was not used as a spoken everyday language in the modern world until Ben Yehuda began the revival. By that time, movements like socialism had sprung up and inventions like the train were rushing into modern times. How would Hebrew adapt? Ben Yehuda’s system was to take a root from Biblical Hebrew and mold it into the correct structure. Thus, vayiktzof (he became angry) could become katzefet (whipped cream). For more information on the construction of new Hebrew words, see the website:

Sometimes a Hebrew word doesn’t “take” and the foreign word is used in its place. You will hear television referred to in Hebrew as televiziya but if you check a little further, you’ll see some dictionaries translate the word as sikayon. The same phenomenon occurred with the refrigerator which was translated initially as m’karrer (from kar, cold) but is frequently referred to in Hebrew as a frigidair even though the soft g is an imported sound.

When I was in Israel about five years ago, I was talking with teens and when I finally understood what they were talking about, I said "nafal ha-asimon." That's a translation from the British--"the penny has dropped."  When I first learned the expression, it was au courant but the teens looked bemused and didn't hesitate to tell me "no one says that anymore."  Their dad had to reassure them that it was once a common phrase.  But I should have known better--how long has it been since an Israeli has used a phone token?

So, how does one keep up with the new words? With the advent of the Internet (known in Hebrew as internet), you can download Hebrew TV or radio broadcasts or read Hebrew newspapers to keep current. My favorite method is to travel to Israel, hop on a city bus after school and sit in front of teens and listen to their slang. Meanwhile, don’t be afraid to sound like a visitor from previous centuries and use your old-fashioned Hebrew. Israelis aren't shy as demonstrated by my experience and will let you know if you need some word upgrades.





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A Dash of Alef-Bet

Shabbat dinner can be sponsored by the letter פ (peh) which sounds like in English.  And that reminds us of peas.  Unfortunately, in Hebrew the words for pea is afunah. One of the fun facts about the Hebrew alef-bet is that letters are derived from familiar common nouns.  פ  is from peh, a mouth.  That certainly fits with our dual theme of eating and talking about a parasha named D'varim, words.  How the Hebrew Language Grew by Edward Horowitz  offers clear information on the growth of the Hebrew language and can be understood by young adult readers. Below is a more academic article by Gid'on Tzur.  You can find all the alef-bet in the article at


האות פֵּא

האות השבע-עשרה באלפבית הכנעני נקראה "פֵּה", על שם פה האדם. ציור האות הקדום שנראה בכתובות ב"ואדי אל-חול" במצרים מהמאה ה-18 לפנה"ס, נראה בדיוק כציור של פה.

כשלוש מאות שנה מאוחר יותר, בכתובות "סרביט אל-ח'אדם" מסיני, מהמאה ה-15 לפנה"ס, נראה ציור הפה שונה, הוסרה השפה העליונה ונשארה רק השפה התחתונה.

וכמאתיים שנה לאחר מכן, השתנה שוב ציור האות, הקו העליון של השפתיים הוצב אנך, ומהקו המעוגל התחתון הושאר רק קטע קטן, והתקבל ציור הדומה בצורתו  ל"מקל סבא". ציור זה נשאר לאורך מאות השנים הבאות.

 היוונים מאמצים את האות בשם "פי" (Pi) בסימן הבא "Π", כאות ה-16 באלפבית היווני.

האות "פה" הלטינית קיבלה את האיור של האות היוונית "רו "P",  

לא ברור למה שם האות השתנה וה- "ה" הוחלפה ב- "א". למרות שניתן לכתוב גם "פֵּה" וגם "פֵּא".


A Dash of Cartography
This is another time that a Biblical atlas is useful. If you don’t have one, try finding one on the internet so that your guests can see exactly where the Israelites are standing when Moshe begins his speech. A Biblical atlas will also show where all the kingdoms mentioned in the parasha are located.

A Dash of Hebrew
In Deuteronomy 1:21 Moshe commands the Israelites, alei, resh..go up, take possession [of the land]. Most of us know the root a-l-h from the word aliyah.
Most Hebrew speakers also know that when we talk about immigration to Israel we use the term, aliyah—ascent. The opposite is true as well. When speaking in Hebrew about an Israeli leaving Israel, the term used is y’ridah-descent. Minnesotans talk about going “up north” endlessly so it may not strike our ears when the language of the Torah aligns with our sense of direction. Here aliyah probably does not refer to heading north and y’ridah does not necessarily mean going down south. Eretz Yisrael is the land of the brit, the covenant, and in that sense, we are spiritually uplifted by entering Eretz Yisrael no matter which direction we hail from.

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Chilled Pea Soup with Katzefet
Pareve--serves 8


  • 3 Tbsp. olive oilrsz 01 dvarim peas copy
  • 6 Tbsp. minced shallots
  • 4 cups pareve chicken broth
  • 6 cups of fresh peas* (or equivalent amount of frozen)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. snipped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. dried chervil (optional)
  • 6 Tbsp. pareve whipping cream (katzefet) like Richwhip
  • Fresh parsley and chives for garnish


  1. Heat olive oil and add shallots.
  2. Sauté until tender over medium heat.
  3. Raise heat to highest setting and add the broth.
  4. Bring to boil and add peas and herbs.
  5. Simmer covered 15-20 min.
  6. Cool slightly.
  7. Blend with an immersion blender, food processor, or standard blender till smooth.
  8. Stir in whipping cream directly from the carton.
  9. Cover and chill.
  10. Serve garnished with parsley and chives.

*One container of pea pods (from our local Farmers' Market)  yielded 1 cup of fresh peas shelled.

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