Archive for the 'Blessings' Category

Blessings of Satisfaction

Tuv Ha’aretz Reflections on Parshat Ekev, by Rabbi Marc Soloway

The intuition to make some kind of blessing or prayer before eating, either traditional or spontaneous, transcends religions and cultures.  Jews, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and probably every religion has its version of making a spiritual connection to the food we are about to eat, whether an established formula or a moment of meditation.  The Talmud has a strong statement that anyone enjoying the physical pleasures of this world without first saying a bracha, is like someone who steals from the Temple! (Berachot 35a).

The Bane & Blessing of Food Allergies

I eat in a pretty healthy manner. I cook most of my own meals, and even when I eat out or at other people’s homes I’m careful what and how much I eat. [I also keep kosher, so I guess by definition I think a lot about what I eat or don't eat, but it's rote by now--I've been doing it most of my life.]

Over the past few years, I’ve developed a host of food intolerances/allergies (still not sure which they are yet, still working on that part) and in addition to making sure I eat healthily, I also have to make sure I don’t eat things that make me sick.

Being Lite, and a Light

(originally posted on

Im so glad you are here today, the woman said to Pandora at her Weight Watchers meeting today. Because you were the crazy lady.

The woman speaking had just made her lifetime goal, and she was speaking in front of the whole group about her success. She took the opportunity to single out my wife for honorable mention.

I always thought of you as the crazy lady, she continued. because nothing you said made sense to me. You were in a completely different place. But now that Ive been following the program, everything you said when I first started fits together.

New Podcast Episode with Wilderness Torah’s Julie Wolk

Listen to our new PODCAST, Episode 5 by clicking here!

Co-Founder Julie Wolk sits down with me on the latest Hazon Podcast. Listen to what Wilderness Torah is doing to revitalize the American Jewish Community. Also, don’t forget you can subscribe on iTunes by searching “Hazon”.

Also, don’t forget that it is Earth Day this week, so check out all the options going on in your area. For a good listing, check this website out

They have a map where you can choose where you live and find out what is going on near you!

Stop and Think; Choose a Blessing and Bless; Eat


Life in general distracts me. It’s true no matter what I’m doing or where I am. If I go into the food co-op for bread and peanut butter, I’ll carry out shampoo and trail mix; when I resolve to run twelve times around the track, I lose count after the third loop. Even when I get through a task, I often neglect to follow up or look back to consider its lessons. By the time I’m halfway through, my mind is already whirring off in another direction.

So I was a little concerned when I signed up for a 21-day “spring rejuvenation cleanse” and learned that it would involve focus. In multiple ways. But this also got to the heart of why I wanted to purify in the first place.

To get the most out of this food-based detoxifying experience, the approximately 50 participants are supposed to eat certain foods, avoid others, prepare detoxifying recipes, breathe deeply, take long walks, and journal about the whole thing each day. On top of all that, our guide encourages us to “eat mindfully”. I figured if I could do all of that, I might have a fighting chance of getting my attention deficit into the black.

On Nisan and on Recalling

cherry blossom chrysler

The month Nisan begins tonight and with it, so many associations. Last year, I wrote about the practice of refraining from eating Matzah from Rosh Hodesh Nisan (i.e. tonight) until Passover. Most people make, if any, the association of dreaded Pesach cleaning and preparation. I’ll be writing some about that in a few days or next week, God willing, but for now, let’s stick to things connected specifically to Rosh Hodesh Nisan.

One association fewer people make is that Birkat haIlanot, the blessing over blooming trees, is typically said in the month of Nisan:

The Dessert Holiday

I am VERY honored to have the chance to join the Jew and the Carrot writing community! Thanks for taking a moment to read my first post, which originally appeared here.)
- Leon


Judaism divides the calendar into regular days,  (like Purim and Rosh Hashanah) and festivals (like Passover and Sukkot). As American Jews my family adds to that secular holidays – some which we embrace wholeheartedly (Independence Day, Thanksgiving), some which we wrestle with (Halloween, Sweetest Day) and those that we dismiss out of hand (Valentine’s Day. And thank you Rabbi Joe Black for giving us a song for that very dilemma!)

“The Ear Tests Words as The Palate Tastes Food”


When Job reflected upon the wisdom of God’s creation “Truly the ear tests words as the palate tastes food” (12:11), could he have been alluding to the remarkable evolutionary development of the bones in our middle ear?  According to Natalie Angier in her article in the Science Times section of the New York Times today,

“Imagine what a dinner conversation would be like if you had decent table manners, but the ears of a lizard.  Not only would you have to stop eating whenever you wanted to speak, but, because parts of your ears are now attached to your jaw, you’d have to stop eating whenever you wanted to hear anybody else….Sometimes its the little things in life that make all the difference – in this case, the three littlest bones in the human body.  Tucked in our auditory canal, just on the inner side of the eardrum, are the musically named malleus, incus, and stapes, each minibone, each ossicle, about the size of a small freshwater pearl  and jointly the basis of one of evolution’s greatest inventions, the mammalian middle ear.  The middle ear gives us our sound bite, our capacity to masticate without being forced to turn a momentary deaf ear to the world, as most vertebrates are.   Who can say whether we humans would have become so voraciously verbal if not for the practice our ancestors had of jawboning around the wildebeest spit.”

Yid.Dish: Faux “Fried” Coral Tomatoes


An August garden is pregnant with expectations.

The garden I share with my friends, Karen and Kate, has a tomato jungle. The three plants have over run three concentric layers of “cages.” They’re now trying to colonize the carrots.

Unrelenting weeks of sun and heat have battered our 10 by 14 foot plot in Karen’s backyard. LA’s water rationing has taken its toll as well. No matter. The tomatoes seem to ripen from pearl green to bloody red as you watch.

Fruit In Its Season

Yesterday was the first day (finally!) of my local farmers’ market here in NJ, and I’ll admit I went a bit fruit happy, coming home loaded with local blueberries, strawberries, and cherries. It took some detective work to figure out what things were not local–the farmer may be Pennsylvania Dutch but those sure aren’t local peaches, not yet. I’m much stricter about eating fruit locally and seasonally than I am vegetables. I can go months without fresh berries or stone fruit, hoping that it counts towards my balanced diet if I eat many servings of fruit in the summer and far fewer in the winter. Sure, there are days towards late February when I am sick of citrus fruit, grapes, and bananas, and look longingly towards the plums flown in from California. But in my heart, I know they will disappoint me.

Prayer for No Rain?

While most of us in the Northeast who are plugged in to local agriculture are reveling in our early CSA bounty, many of the producers of this bounty are worrying about the future of this year’s crop.

Laura, a friend in Cambridge, MA, who is a participant in this summer’s Adamah Fellowship in Falls Village, CT, writes on her blog that the Adamah CSA, which delivered its first share this week, is in danger of losing its crop due to the high volume of rain received by the Northeast US in the past few weeks. This amount of rain, combined with the fact that the rain is predicted to continue for several more days at least, and the fact that the farm is located next to a river, mean that it could cost them the viability of many crops, especially so early in the season.

Getting More Produce to Market in “Urban” Areas

This optimistic article points to an issue felt acutely in “inner cities” around the country: a lack of fresh produce being sold at market.  This problem was controversially or famously addressed in my city by the New York City Green Cart initiative but this certainly hasn’t solved it and plenty of other cities have the same issues (NYC isn’t even mentioned in the article, though LA, Newark and Detroit are, and the article is mainly about Chicago.)  Could it be that looking to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s as examples, however, are more detrimental than good?  As big a supporter of organics as I am, I think encouraging people to eat “conventional” produce would be a big boon over Mickey-D’s and would be a lot cheaper and easier than the “greenest” route.  Even frozen produce makes a nice, healthy, easy and inexpensive meal most of the time.

This Week’s Parsha: Behar and Farmer Freed

Thanks so much to Emily for this great tip!

Parshat Behar from More Torah cartoons at

Our Wired World: A Kosher App for iPhone

This is the first in a new series of reviews of food-related apps for the iPhone that can help you find local, organic and kosher food at local markets, restaurants and on your travels. We’ll be reviewing a range of apps, many of them free, but we start with a look at a paid program: Kosher, by RustyBrick, which currently costs $4.99 from Apple’s iTunes app store.


Kosher‘s interface is cleanly designed. Essentially, it’s a front-end viewer for a database hosted on, which has listings of restaurants, groceries, butchers, kosher food stores and even caterers. The database also contains reviews that visitors to these establishments have submitted. But the app also has a host of iPhone specific features and goodies that make it a compelling purchase for any iPhone user who keeps kosher or has friends who do.