Torah Tidbits

2 September 2014 / 7 Elul 5774
Issue 1029
Shabbat Parshat Bo
January 17, 2013

Portion of the Portion

Do not eat it raw or cooked in water...

There are many rules listed in our portion regarding Korban Pesach. Some of these laws only applied for the evening that the Jews actually left Egypt - such as “You must eat it with your waist belted, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand…” (12:11) Other laws that apply to how we must eat the Pascal lamb throughout the generations such as “Eat the sacrificial meat during the night, roasted over fire. Eat it with matza and bitter herbs” (12:8).
The next verse (12:9) in our portion seems a bit unnecessary. It states “Do not eat it raw or cooked in water, but only roasted over fire, including its head, its legs, and its internal organs.” The previous verse told us already that it should be roasted over fire - why does this verse have to tell us how not to cook it - not raw, and not cooked in water. Even if we aren’t graduates of the Cordon Bleu, wouldn’t we know that when the verse says roasted over fire - it doesn’t mean raw or cooked in water? What is this verse adding that we didn’t know before?
Oznaim L’Torah points out that the fact that the lamb was roasted whole, with its “head, legs, and internal organs” visible it was obvious to everyone that the Jews were roast- ing what the Egyptians worshiped as a god. Chizkuni continues this point saying, if an Egyptian were to come to their homes while they were roasting the Pesach they shouldn’t take it off of the fire while it is NA - still raw, out of fear what the Egyptians might do to you if they see you roasting their god. He also says, don’t cook it in water in a pot, which will also look like you are hiding what you are doing. This verse is no cooking lesson, it is Hashem telling his people that they mustn’t fear. He is redeeming Israel and destroying Egypt and everything the Egyptians held of value including their gods - one of them being the lamb. The Jews must bring this lamb as a sacrifice, roasted whole in full view of everyone with pride and confidence in the one G-d, Hashem. See what we can learn from Hashem’s recipes.
Korban Pesach had to be roasted by the fire itself, not by something heated by the fire - so it was roasted on a stick from a pomegranate tree that wouldn’t get hot. Here is a recipe for lamb with pomegranates.

750 g boneless lamb (or other meat)
2 Tbsp plain flour
1 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
4 sticks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 cinnamon stick
100 g walnuts, chopped (optional)
2 bay leaves
6 pomegranates
1 bunch fresh parsley

Cut the lamb into thumb-sized cubes. Mix flour, salt and pepper. Toss the lamb cubes in the flour. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. When the oil starts to smoke, add as many lamb pieces as will fit in one layer, cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes until soft and browned evenly. Remove from the pan, then repeat with the remaining cubes until they are all browned. Return all the lamb to the pan and turn the heat down. Add the onion, celery, garlic, cinnamon stick, walnuts and bay leaves to the pan. Put the lid back on and cook very gently for 3-5 mins, ‘til the onion is softened. Be sure to stir often to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Cut one pomegranate in half and ease out the seeds by banging it on the sides over a dish. The seeds will fall out. Juice the remaining pomegranates as you would an orange. You should end up with about 500ml of juice. (You can also use store bought pomegranate juice.) Stir the juice into the lamb and add water to cover. Simmer for about 1 hours, till the lamb is tender. Adding a little water if the stew gets dry.
Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Season to taste. Sprinkle with the parsley and reserved pomegranate seeds.

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