Torah Tidbits

2 September 2014 / 7 Elul 5774
Issue 1024
Shabbat Parshat Vayeishev
December 06, 2012

Portion of the Portion

The Chanuka Connection

The portion stops in the story of Yosef and his brothers to tell us about Yehuda and his family. In this section I actually found what I was looking for - some connection with this portion and the Chanuka story. This I found when I happened to look up the translation of a word in Rav Aryeh Kaplan’s The Living Torah and chanced on his translation for the words ZONAH (38:15) and K’DEISHA (38:21) that are used in this week’s portion referring to the “loose woman” (Tamar)  that Yehuda met and then searched for. I at first didn’t even notice that two different words were used.
He translates ZONAH as prostitute and K’DEISHA as religious prostitute. He says that it seems that the pagan custom was to use the hire of such prostitutes for sacrifice and that ancient sources state that among the Amorites it was a custom that girls would have to sit seven days as prostitutes before being married (Ketuvot 3b).
This is similar to the well know story of Channuka. The Greek rulers of Israel instituted a harsh decree: All brides were required to sleep with a Greek military officer before they could marry their husbands. The Greeks understood that the foundation of Jewish life is a sound and stable family and they wanted to upset that.
Yehudit, a daughter of Yochanan the Kohen Gadol, father of the Hasmonean family, had a plan to seduce the Greek commander, Holofernes, and then to kill him. Her plan succeeded. The commander gave a feast in honor of Yehudit and he became quite drunk. That night the commander and Yehudit retired to his private tent where he soon fell into a deep sleep. While he was asleep Yehudit took his sword and cut off his head. She then brought the commander’s head back to Jerusalem where it was hung on the city walls for everyone to see. The Jews were inspired by the daring heroism of Yehudit, and the Greek forces retreated. It was a key turning point in the Jewish revolt against the Greeks.
The Chanuka story is filled with the dedication and heroism of Jewish women. These women had a mentor in Tamar who was neither a ZONAH nor a K’DEISHA, but was brave in her own way, leading Yehuda to fulfill his role in Jewish history of being the father of the Davidic line and eventually the Moshiach, may he come speedily in our time.
WHEN YEHUDA came to Tamar thinking she was a prostitute, she made him give her a security until he sent her payment. The security he turned over was his seal, wrap and staff (38:18). Below is this week’s recipe for Nori-wrapped Salmon sticks (wrap & sticks = staff) from the new Kosher By Design Cooking Coach cook book by Susie Fishbein, published by Artscroll.  This full color 300+ page cookbook with over 120 new recipes and many tips and techniques makes a great Chanuka gift for both veteran & novice cooks.

4 (3-ounce) portions salmon fillet (6” strips - that’s 15cm) skin and pin bones removed.
coarse sea salt or kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
dried dill
1 cup lowfat mayonnaise
2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1Tblsp wasabi powder
1 tsp roasted or toasted sesame oil
6 sheets toasted nori,  cut in half with scissors
1 lemon
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp sriracha chili sauce
Mixed sesme seeds and
pinch cayenne (optional garnish)

Preheat oven to 200C. Line a jellypan with parchment paper. Set aside. Place the salmon portions on your cutting board. Cut each in thirds to make 12 rectangles, approx. 2” x 1” each. Season each with salt, pepper, and a small pinch of dried dill. In a medium bowl, whisk the mayo, ginger, wasabi powder and oil. Remove cup and reserve. Brush some of the remaining cup over the salmon and onto all sides of each fillet. Lay out a nori sheet with the short end toward you. Brush the nori with wasabi mayo to make it pliable. Place a fillet on the bottom of the sheet. Squeeze on a little lemon juice and sprinkle with fresh dill. Fold bottom up over the salmon to cover it; press. Fold in the sides and roll, pressing to seal. Place on prepared pan, seam-side-down. Repeat with remaining fillets and sheets. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes, until the packets pop slightly. The fish is steamed in the nori and should feel firm when you press the packet.
Meanwhile, stir the sriracha chili sauce into the reserved wasabi mayo. Drizzle over the packets. Garnish with sesame seeds and a pinch of caenne if desired.

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