My Son the Surgeon
Goldblatt's Hearing Aid
When Justice Triumphs
Moishe Plotnik's Chinese Laundry
Kosher symbols you may have overlooked
Such a Son-in-Law
Purim Around the World
Ritual Slaughter of the latke
How to Make a Deli Sandwich
Many times I have been upset by people who seem to think that gefilte fish is some kind of mixture you make in the kitchen rather than one of Hashem's creatures. This has led me to explain exactly what a gefilte fish is. So once again here goes.
Each year as soon as the frost on the Great Gefilte Lakes (located up state New York somewhere in the Catskill Mountains) is thin enough to break the surface, frum fishermen set out to "catch" gefilte fish. Now unlike your normal fish, gefilte fish can not be caught with a rod and a reel or your standard bait. The art of catching gefilte fish was handed down for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. For all I know Moses used to go gefilte fish catching. I'm sure that the Great Rambam (Maimonides) when he wasn't busy playing doctor spent his leisure time Gefilte fishing. Enough already, you say, so how is it done?
Well you go up to the edge of lake with some Matzoh. Now this is very important!! It has to be Shmurah Matzoh or the fish will not be attracted. You stand at the edge of the lake and whistle and say "here boy", "here boy". The fish just can't resist the smell of the Matzoh They come in mass to the edge of the lake where they jump into the jars and are bottled on the spot.
Again you must remember that there are two kinds of gefilte fish. The strong and the weak. The weak are your standard fish which are in a loose "broth" (it is actually the lake water). Now the strong are special. They seem to be in a "jell". These fish are actually imported from the Middle East where they are caught in the dead sea. They have to be strong to be able to swim through that "jell." Last year a well meaning gentleman tried to correct me by stating, "Reb, shouldn't they be saying "Here Boychic". I didn't have the heart to tell him, Boychic is a Yiddish word and Gefilte Fish don't understand Yiddish only Hebrew and surprisingly, English! There has been a big debate as to whether to use the Hebrew or English in the US. With a big break from tradition,shockingly the English is accepted by almost all Gefilte fishermen. Some still insist on using the Hebrew and consider the use of "Here Boy" as Reform and not Halachicly acceptable. However the Congress of OU Rabbis (who have to be present at the lakes when the fish are bottled) uniformly accept "here boy"!
The time of the catch is very important! The fish can not be caught before Purim is over or the fish are considered Chometz! Besides the fish know when Pesach is coming and will not respond to the Matzoh before the proper time. I am still a little bothered by which end of the fish is the head and which the tail (not to mention that I am not sure where their eyes are). This is a small price to pay the luxury of eating this delicacy. Have you ever had the baby Gefilte? Oy, they are so cute that I feel a little guilty eating them!
Have a great Pesach and hope that the Matzoh doesn't affect you like Pepto Bismol or worse yet, prunes! MORE STORY Oy, I forgot to mention about the fish swimming up stream. I didn't think it was that important, but I have got this Yenta sitting next to me that is married to some machugina dentist from some hick town that keeps hocking me in chinic "they swim up stream, they swim up stream."
All right so I had to get her off mine cup. Go away Yenta and mind your own business. If you don't like the way I tell the story, tell it yourself. You know I think that I just discovered the definition of a Jewish wife. It's someone that nudges you to do something and then when you finally do it just to get them off your back, they become mavins and tell you how you should have done it! OK not all Jewish wives just the one who has been sitting next to me for almost 40 years!
|Ritual slaughter of the latke|
Presented at the Latke-Homentash Symposium
Hillel House, Madison, Wisconsin Purim, 1984
It is well known that our tradition surrounds the most important actions in life with ritual. The importance of life-cycle rituals and holiday-cycle rituals underscores their stature. On the other hand, there is no particular ritual for, say, hunting boars. The Jewish tradition has nothing much to say about it, except that hunting bores.
Eating has long held a fascination for the Rabbinic mind, not to mention the Rabbinic stomach. We are all familiar with some of the rituals involved with food: Washing the hands before going to the supermarket, checking for the UO, reciting "Who brings the can opener out of the drawer", and the injunction to leave a little food in the can for the cat.
In the Talmud, there is a dispute whether searching diligently for the UO itself fulfills the mitzvo of "bedikas hekhsher" or whether one needs to also know the rules for affixing the UO, over which one recites "lehagboa hekhsher". For example, did you know that according to Rashi, the U_O must be in the upper third of the label, and must be vertical, whereas according to Rabbenu Tam, it must be sideways? This attention to detail is the hallmark of importance that we attribute to food.
I want to raise your conciousness (and maybe your gorge) and explain to you the Torah-true Halakhic way in which latkes must be prepared, according to Rambam's "Sefer", so called because each chapter begins with the word "Sefer". In particular, Chapter 23 is called, "Sefer example you want latkes." Anotherchapter, dealing with food poisoning, is "Sefer ways to can latkes". You may not be surprised to hear that there is no mention whatsoever of Homentashen in this standard reference. They just don't rate. In fact, the only reference I could find to Homentashen in the whole Rabbinic literature, which I read through yesterday (in the Cliff notes edition), was in a chapter on spinach homentashen in thejustifiably obscure responsa of Poppy, the seltzer man. Say for example you want latkes. The potato must be healthy. Any potato unable to swim upstream with the current is considered sick, and you have to wait until it recovers before you can use it. You have to properly slaughter the potatoes. You need a knife sharp enough, in the words of the Rambam, so that it can cut 30 bunches of krokhmal in 10 strokes. I expect that's pretty sharp. You slaughter the potato with a quick double cut, holding the knife so the blade is facing up, attacking the potato from underneath. If there are any eyes on the potato, they must be facing up, so the potato doesn't see the knife coming. The stroke must sever at least the main artery of the potato, although according to Rambam, this is difficult with our modern potatoes, which have no arteries, and it suffices to cut at least .357 inches beneath the skin. Any potato juice that come out within the first spurt is treyf; you must let it pour on the ground and stomp on it, quoting meanwhile from Deuteronomy, "thus be done to the manna whom the king delighteth to honor." You then check the dead potato for health. If there is a hole between the veena and the keyba, the potato is treyf and may not be eaten, although it may be used for a paperweight. If you carve a dreydl out of it, the dreydl is kosher, but the knife may only be used as a screwdriver from then on. If there are any adhesions on the skin, the potato is glatt treyf and must be discarded. You must remove the eyes (in Yiddish, this is known as "eyebering"); as long as they are not removed, the outer part of the potato is treyf (literally, "the eyes have it".)
Modern latke factories don't bother with the extremely time-consuming removal of the eyes, so they sell the outer part of the potato to non-Jews. You must be very careful if you are making a large batch of latkes not to slaughter two potatoes from the same plant on the same day. The Bible explicitly says, "You shall not slaughter it and its plant-mate on the same day". The Talmud tells of a thief who stole two potatoes and slaughtered them on the same day. As you know, the penalty for stealing is that you must pay back double. But if you steal a potato and slaughter it, you must pay back 5-fold. The Talmud records a discussion about whether, when the thief slaughtered the second potato, he was obligated to pay the 5-fold penalty or not, since he was by that same act guilty of the "two on the same day" rule, and was thereby sentenced to the harsher punishment of juggling 5 eggs and cleaning up the mess. Let it be a lesson to you: Buy each potato from a different store, you should never have a problem. If you peel the potatoes, you are obligated to donate one twelfth of the peels to a Cohen, assuming you have peeled at least 20 potatoes and you have gotten at least 1/4 cup of peels from each.
The best way to do this is to put the peels in an envelope and mail it to the first Cohen or Katz you find in the phone book. It is also acceptable to stop people on the street, ask them if they are Jewish, and if so, talk them into performing this important mitzvo "putting out the peelings" themselves. I could go on, and I will. Remember to salt the potato and leave it to drain for at least 24 hours. We do this in memory of Lot's wife Latke, who was turned to salt. Use a lotta salt, in memory of Lot's daughter, Lotta.
You may wonder why Sephardic Jews don't eat latkes. It stems from two differences of interpretation. The Torah speaks about a "Poroh Aduma", a red potato without blemish. TheSephardim consider red potatoes too holy to eat, so they avoid latkes. On the other hand, the Ashkenazim think only Swiss cheese is too holy to eat. They liken "Poroh Aduma" with "Pereh Odom", the common person, and consider a red potato glatt kosher. Kosher airline meals made with potatoes therefore always specify "red potatoes." The other difference of opinion is the meaning of "you shall not yoke them together". TheSephardim read this as a prohibition of mixing eggs and potatoes. The Ashkenazim say, andI quote "Love and Knishes", the authoritative cookbook, "So nu, use two eggs already. Youwant more, so you should use more."
Let me warn you about applesauce. Its proper preparation is just as complex as latkes themselves. It is best to consult a competent authority. One last warning. You may remember that the Megilla tells us that the Persians cast latkes, which they called Pur, from which we get the name Purim. You must fry the latkes to make them kosher. Let them burn a bit, in memory of the burnt offerings. But don't do like the Persians. Don't cast them. If you cast them, they'll turn out Pur for you, too.
Postscript: At the symposium at which I presented this talk, Barry Buchbinder suggested that homentashn have an aphrodisiac effect. My response: "Poppycock!"
|Farshtaist? (Do You Understand?)|
| We got this from a yiddishly challenged friend.
It's quite cute and informative to those speaking yiddish as another language.
(See the Glossary of Terms if you get stuck on a word) :)
was the secret code, therefore I
A bisseleh maybe here and there, the rest
has gone to waste.
Glossary of Terms
|My Son the Surgeon|
older Jewish man was on the operating table awaiting surgery
and he insisted that his son, a renown surgeon, perform the operation.
As he was about to receive the anesthesia he asked to speak
to his son.
"Yes Dad, what is it?"
"Don't be nervous, do your best and just remember, if it doesn't go well, if something happens to me.. your mother is going to come and live with you and your wife."
|Goldblatt's Hearing Aid|
was showing off. He told his friend, "I bought a hearing aid
yesterday. It cost me two thousand bucks, but it
is state of the art."
"What kind is it?" his friend asked.
"A quarter of twelve," was the answer.
| Years ago, doctors made house calls. It was much
a social visit as professional.
'Eat something, doctor.
You look terrible.'
He had to taste Mama's liver, tongue, and kidnets before she would let him look at Papa's.
It was not unusual for the doctor to get sick at our house."
|Purim Around the World|
King Achashverosh was Finnish with his disobedient wife Vashti. "You Congo now!", he ordered her.
After she had Ghana way, the king's messengers went Roman the land to find a new queen. And India end, the beautiful Esther won the crown.
Meanwhile, Mordechai sat outside the palace, where the Chile Haman would Czech up on him daily. "I Haiti you because you refuse to bow to me!", Haman scolded Mordechai.
"U.S.A. very stubborn man. You Jews are such Bahamas. If you keep this up, Denmark my words! I will have all your people killed! Just Kuwait and see, you Turkey!"
Mordechai went into mourning and tore his clothes--a custom known as Korea. He urged Esther to plead with the king. The Jews fasted for three days and grew very Hungary.
Esther approached the king and asked, " Kenya Belize come to a banquet I've prepared for you and Haman?" At the feast she invited her guests to a second banquet to eat Samoa.
The king asked, "Esther, why Jamaica big meal like this? Just tell me what you want. Unto half my United Kingdom will I give you."
Esther replied, "Spain full for me to say this, but Haman is Russian to kill my people."
Haman's loud Wales could be heard as he carried Honduras this scene. "Oman!", Haman cried bitterly. "Iraq my brains in an effort to destroy the Jews. But that sneaky Mordechai--Egypt me!"
Haman and his ten sons were hanged and went immediately to the Netherlands.
And to Sweden the deal, the Jews were allowed to Polish off the rest of their foes as well. "You lost your enemies and Uganda friend," the king smiled.
And that is why the Purim story Israeli a miracle. G-d decided to China light on His chosen people.
So now let's celebrate! Forget all your Syria's business and just be happy! Serb up some wine and Taiwan on!
| Airman Cohen was assigned to advise new recruits
about GI Insurance. Captain Smith noticed that he had almost a 100%
record for sales. Amazed, the captain stood in the back of
the room and listened to Cohen's pitch.
Cohen explained the basics of GI Insurance, then said, "If you have GI Insurance and go into battle and are killed, the government has to pay $200,000 to your beneficiaries. If you don't have GI Insurance and you go into battle and get killed, the government only has to pay a maximum of $6,000."
"So you tell me," he concluded, "who do you think they're going to send into battle first?"
| A Jewish lady's grandson is playing in the
water while she is standing on the beach not wanting to get her feet wet
when all of a sudden a huge wave appears from nowhere and crashes directly
over the spot where the boy is wading. The water recedes and the
boy is no longer there. He simply vanished. She holds her hands to the
sky, screams and cries,"Lord, how could you?
I not been a wonderful grandmother?
She responds, "He had a hat."
|Moishe Plotnik's Chinese Laundry|
| Walking through San Francisco's Chinatown,
a tourist from the Midwest was fascinated with all the Chinese restaurants,
shops, signs and banners. He turned a corner and saw a building with the
sign "Moishe Plotnik's Chinese Laundry."
"Moishe Plotnik?" he wondered. "How does that fit in Chinatown? So he walked into the shop and saw a fairly standard looking Chinese laundry.
He could see that the proprietors were clearly aware of the uniqueness of the name as there were baseball hats, T-Shirts and coffee mugs emblazoned with the logo "Moishe Plotnik's Chinese Laundry." There was also a fair selection of Chinatown souvenirs, indicating that the name alone had brought many tourists into the shop. The tourist selected a coffee cup as a conversation piece to take back to his office. Behind the counter was a smiling old Chinese gentleman who thanked him for his purchase in English, thickly accented with Chinese. The tourist asked, "Can you tell me how this place got a name like "Moishe Plotnik's Chinese Laundry?" The old man answered, "Ahh... Everybody ask that. Is name of owner." Looking around, the tourist asked, "Is he here now?" "He is right here," replied the old man. "He is me." "Really? How did you ever get a name like Moishe Plotnik?" "Is simple," said the old man. "Many, many year ago when come to this country, was stand in line at Documentation Center. Man in front is Jewish gentleman from Poland. "Lady look at him and say, 'What your name?' " He say, 'Moishe Plotnik.' "Then she look at me and say, 'What your name?'
"I say, 'Sam Ting.'"
|When Justice Triumphs|
| Isaac Fleaglebaum's attorneys handled a jury trial
in a tough business case.
The client was out of town when the jury came back with its decision.
The lead lawyer, a youngish-lawyer with a flair for prose, immediately emailed a note to his client saying "JUSTICE TRIUMPHED."
Mr. Fleaglebaum replied, "APPEAL AT ONCE."
|How to make a Deli Sandwich|
| Do not make a stingy sandwich;
Pile the cold cuts high.
Customers should see salami
Coming through the rye.
|Such a Son-in-Law|
| A young Jew and an old Jew are riding on a bus
The young Jew asks, "Excuse me, sir, what time is it?"
The old Jew doesn't answer.
"Excuse me, sir," the young Jew asks again, "what time is it?"
The old Jew still doesn't answer.
"Sir, forgive me for interrupting you all the time, but i really want to know what time it is. Why won't you answer me?"
The old Jew says, "Son, the next stop is the last on this route. I don't know you, so you must be a stranger. If I answer you now, according to Jewish tradition, I must invite you to my home. You're handsome and I have a beautiful daughter. You will both fall in love and you'll want to get married. And tell me, why would I want a son-in-law who can't even afford a watch?"
|Kosher symbols you may have overlooked...|
Israeli History in a Nutshell
History of Israel
All Things Jewish
Jewish Communities of the World