Cooking with Parshat

I have decided to start a new experiment. I will try making a specific dish for Shabbat having to do with the text of the Parshah. As of now, I have no idea how successful this project will be, but what have I got to lose, right?

So, for Parshat Bo, which among other things is talking about the plague of darkness, I baked the brownies that should resemble the darkness in the homes of the Egyptians, the light that Israel still had in their homes, as well as the bitter-sweet taste of the soon-to-come redemption.

These brownies are very easy to make, you just have to have really good chocolate.

The original recipe came from this book. As usual, mine is just a bit different.

For the “light” crust:

2/3 cup light brown sugar

2/3 cup butter

1 cup white flour

1, 5 cup chopped nuts. I used a mixture of pecans and walnuts

For the brownies:

8 oz best quality semisweet chocolate. I usually buy it from Trader Joe’s in big bricks

3/4 cup butter

2 tsp espresso powder

1 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

4 eggs

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt


To make the crust, cream the sugar and butter until soft, then slowly add flour and nuts. Press the mixture into the bottom of the greased baking pan. Set aside.

For the brownies, melt the chocolate and butter on the double boiler stirring constantly and adding espresso powder dissolved in just a tiny bit of boiling water. The mixture should be nice smooth and shiny. at this point you can add some liquor of your choice (I did!). Cool a little  bit.

Add the vanilla, sugar and eggs carefully whisking all the time. Lastly, add the flour and salt mixing just to combine.

Spread the batter carefully and evenly over the white crust. and bake at 350F for about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place it into the refrigerator almost immediately.

While the brownies are baking, make the dark glaze. Take 6 oz best quality bitter-sweet chocolate, 2 tbsp butter and 1/2 heavy cream and heat it whisking constantly on the double boiler. Remove from heat and whisk every so often. Your mixture should be really dark.

Pour the glaze over the cooled brownies, and put back in the fridge. Once set, cut and enjoy!

While the brownies are in the oven, it’s best to devote your time to some d’var Torah (curtesy of Dr. Ackerman):

“Pharaoh hurriedly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘I stand guilty before the Lord your Gd and before you.’” (Exodus 10:16)

The war of wills between Gd and Pharaoh continues in Parashat Bo, with the plagues of locusts and darkness.  Then Gd informs Moses of the awful final plague: the death of the firstborn.  But Gd interrupts the narrative before sending the plague to give detailed instructions for two rituals:  pesach mitzrayim, the paschal sacrifice, a one-time only event for the Israelites about to be freed, and chag hamatzot, the holiday of matzah, to be observed in all generations.

Parashat Bo specifies (with regard to the paschal sacrifice), “Each of them shall take a lamb according to beit avotam, their parental home, a lamb for a household.”  (Ex. 12:3).  Later, however, it states, “The whole community of Israel shall offer it.” (Ex. 12:47).  So, is the Pesach sacrifice a private home ritual or a public communal ritual?

The m’chilta (~1st Century CE; rabbinic interpretation of the book of Exodus) highlights the connection between the family and community:  while the original Pesach mitzrayim was a private family ritual, in the future, when every family observes the ritual (in memory of the original event), it becomes, by definition, a community ritual.

Rabbi Shelly Marder (Rabbi and Department Head of Jewish Life at the Jewish Home of San Franciscoputs an additional twist on the m’chilta’s perspective: 21st-century families comprise many configurations beyond the historic definition of mother, father, and biological children sitting around the table.And there are people who, for whatever reason, don’t fit into any family configuration.  The community is obligated to make a place for each person, thereby becoming a family and fulfilling both verses.


Shabbat Shalom!


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