A mom's endeavors to bring parashat hashavua, the weekly Torah reading, to the Shabbat table
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Sealed with a Kiss
The following is from the archives of this blog. Sometimes it is just that difficult to think of new ideas.
Parashat Vayishlach begins with Yaakov frantically preparing for a confrontation with his brother. When Yaakov realizes that he is about to encounter Esav whom he had not seen in decades since angering him upon receiving Yitzchak's blessing, the younger brother prepares for the meeting in three ways. He sends gifts to Esav in an attempt at diplomacy, he prays to Hashem, and he divides his camp as preparation for battle. This three-pronged approach to combating an enemy is the paradigm that the Jewish People has often followed (see Megillat Esther, for example). I think that the first approach, diplomacy, lends itself nicely to the table. I will wrap three large boxes and use them as the centerpiece for the meal. Under one will be small gifts for every guest, under the second will be birchonim, and under the third will be toy soldiers. During the meal we will discuss why using diplomacy should be the first communication between enemies. We would try to bring the conversation down to a micro level and talk about interpersonal relationships in the house and how Yaakov's example could help us in our own interactions at home.
Dessert for this parashah will focus on a famous midrash related to Yaakov and Esav's reunion. When the brothers see each other again after decades of separation, the Torah text states that Esav runs toward Yaakov, embraces him, falls upon his neck, kisses him, and they both weep. The Torah known for concision of language provides many verbs for this reunion. In addition, in the text itself, the word "and he kissed" appears with what appear to be extraneous dots above it. The midrash explains that the dots allude to Esav's true intent. While he seemingly envelops Yaakov in an embrace of forgiveness and fraternal love, Esav is really acting as a wolf in sheep's clothing (nice comparison to Yaakov in parashat Toldot who was a sheep dressed in wolf's clothes, so to speak). Esav falls on his brother's neck not to kiss him, but to bite him. The midrash continues that Yaakov's neck turns to stone/marble to become impervious to his brother's threatening action. How does this midrash translate into dessert? I have two confections that I am going to bake and serve side by side: Mexican chocolate cookies (http://bakingbites.com/2005/07/more-of-maida-mexican-chocolate-cookies/) and marble cupcakes (recipe adapted to make them pareve--http://littlechefandi.blogspot.com/2009/08/marble-cupcakes.html). The cookies look like chocolate cookies but, made with cayenne and black peppers, they have a definite bite to them (pun very much intended). I plan to try to cut the cookies in the shape of chocolate kisses before I bake them if possible. Marble speaks for itself.