Image from Epicurious
We are having a larger dinner party with friends on Friday to celebrate Rosh Hashana / Shabbat, so our Wednesday night dinner was just us to keep things sane. We went to the Emanu-El 8:30 pm service and when we finally got home it was quite late — as planned — and we had our festive meal at midnight.
An Italian-style brisket (braised in wine, with lots of onion, dried fruit, and rosemary) is our traditional Rosh Hashana dinner and it feeds a crowd so I planned that for Friday. In order to keep the brisket feeling special, and to honor our vegetarian daughter, I made it a milk meal. And since my husband’s family are Iraqi Jews I was inspired by Persian and modern Israeli cuisine.
- Homemade apple challah. Half whole wheat, with olive oil and honey. Based on Maggie Glezer’s “My Challah” recipe in A Blessing of Bread. In an Infinity Braid shape. Made it on Monday and froze it to keep it fresh.
- Beet & pomegranate salad with chopped preserved lemons. Simple small-dice roasted red beets (roasted the night before) tossed with pomegranate seeds and half a preserved lemon. A little red vinegar too.
- Wattercress, herb, pistachio, and orangeflower water salad. From Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook. Bright acidic bitterness to balance the sweetness.
- Magic Chickpeas. Veggie main dish. My own recipe, named by my daughter, mild but glowing heat. Simple stewed chickpeas with cumin, coriander, smoked sweet paprika, a touch of chipotle, Mediterranean oregano; onion & garlic; lots of olive oil; a good sploosh of white wine. After they’re done cooking add a bag of frozen spinach & let it sit for 20 - 30 min while the beans are still hot. Made these in the slow cooker, which the kids plugged in afterschool.
- Ottolenghi’s Sea Bass in Harissa with Rose Petals.
- Avocado blossom honey (local! California!) and apples
- Cheese plate — 9-month Manchego (the kids’ favorite) and Humboldt Fog.
I love celebrating the holidays and creating a magical experience for friends and family. So I can cook — I’m glad it can help transform the day into a sacred space and experience. May you be inspired too. L’Shanah tova!
“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
— This quote is often incorrectly attributed to the Talmud. Here is a link that gives more information about this. …
Jonathan Kadane Crane and Joseph Born Kadane’s note, linked above, cites the only vaguely-related Talmudic source for this quote they were able to find: “…Rabbi Marc Gellman refers these words to the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berakoth 55b.3.”
Per my previous post this part of the Talmud cites that even the most prophetic dreams (e.g. Joseph, in Genesis) are never even completely accurate or literally predictive; dreams are essentially ambiguous. Following are some examples of the text just prior to the quote above (for context), and then the Steinsaltz translation of the relevant paragraph.
“[3 rabbis] were sitting together. They said: Let each and every one of us say something that the other has not heard. One of them began and said: One who saw a dream and does not know what he saw should stand before the priests when they lift their hands during the Priestly Blessing and say the following…” (Koren Talmud Bavli ed. Adin Steinsaltz, Berakhot PIX d55b, p 359).
“There were twenty-four interpreters of dreams in Jerusalem. One time, I dreamed a dream and went to each of them to interpret it. What one interpreted for me the other did not interpret for me, and, nevertheless, all of the interpretations were realized in me, to fulfill that which is stated: All dreams follow the mouth of the interpreter.” (Koren Talmud Bavli ed. Adin Steinsaltz, Berakhot PIX d55b, p 360).
“Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: A person is only shown in his dream the thoughts of his heart when he was awake, as evidenced by what Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar, as it is stated: ‘As for you, O king, your thoughts came upon your bed, what should come to pass hereafter’ (Daniel 2:29). And if you wish, say instead that it is derived from here, a related verse: ‘And that you may know the thoughts of your heart’ (Daniel 2:30). How will you know the thoughts of your heart? By their being revealed to you in a dream. Rava said: Know that this is the case, for one is neither shown a golden palm tree nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle in a dream. In other words, dreams only contain images that enter a person’s mind.” (Koren Talmud Bavli ed. Adin Steinsaltz, Berakhot PIX d55b, p 361).
I don’t know if this was the source that inspired someone who inspired Anaïs Nin — or if there is perhaps another statement in the Talmud somewhere that provided the inspiration for the quote. But certainly this part of Berakhot does not mean what Nin’s aphorism does — however insightful it may be.
“…the Gemara asks: What do straw and grain have to do with a dream? Rather, Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai: Just as it is impossible for the grain to grow without straw, so too it is impossible to dream without idle matters. Even a dream that will be fulfilled in the future contains some element of nonsense.
“Rabbi Berekhya said: Even though part of a dream is fulfilled, all of it is not fulfilled. From where do we derive this? From the story of Joseph’s dream, as it is written: ‘and, behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down to me,’ (Genesis 37:9), and at that time his mother was no longer alive. …Even this dream that was ultimately fulfilled contained an element that was not fulfilled.”
—Koren Talmud Bavli, ed. Adin Steinsaltz. Perek IX d55 a-b, p 357.
—Koren Talmud Bavli, ed. Adin Steinsaltz. Perek II d16 A, p 106.