Practical Judaism – Toldot

“Jacob then gave Esau bread and lentil stew; he ate and drank, and he rose and went away. Thus did Esau spurn the birthright.”
– Genesis 25:34

Welcome to the new season of the ‘Raising Holy Sparks’ podcast. This year, we will be focusing on Jewish concepts and will be experimenting with ways to take them out of the theoretical and turn them into the practical.

This week’s torah portion is Toldot (from the Book of Genesis).

Isaac’s two sons, Jacob and Esau, are at a crossroads in their relationship as their father is aging and the prospect of receiving his inheritance and the blessing of the firstborn begins to weigh heavily on their minds. Well, at least on Jacob’s mind.

One day, when Esau comes home famished, he sees that his twin brother had made some red lentil stew. Spotting an opportunity for some sort of deal while his brother is in a state of vulnerability, Jacob offers the stew only in exchange for the blessing of the firstborn. 

Esau relents and makes the trade. Jacob, as the younger of the twins, receives the birthright.

While in recent weeks, we have looked for opportunities to create a Practical Judaism by emulating the actions or values of Biblical figures, this week, let’s jump into the text a little bit more than usual so that we can see, smell, and taste what they experienced.

How so? A red lentil recipe!

This is from NYT Cooking, by Melissa Clark

  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
  3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.
  5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.

May you enjoy this soup and the blessings in your life with humility and gratitude.

For any blessings that you feel you haven’t actually earned accept them anyway and use this realization/acknowledgment of unearned gifts/blessing as an opportunity to pay it forward and give to others in the future with the same grace that you have received in the past.

See you next time!

Thanks for listening and looking forward to being on this journey through the books of the Torah with you!


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