Post 194: MOFO Challenge Day 14 Today is 1st Day Rosh Hashana Open Day at Chubeza October 1st.- Share something vegan (and delicious, duh!) with a non-vegan Marinated zucchini-Purée of squash and celeri root,

Some Words about the Jewish New Year:

Today is the 1st Day Rosh Hashana: We are approaching the ten days of Teshuvah, the days from now to Yom Kipur. Right now we are the furthest away from G-d chronologically from Yom Kippur of last year. That is why all of us are feeling the most distance from Him.

In the Amidah, the prayer for health comes after the prayer for redemption, because we experience a great deal of frustration as long as we are not spiritually free and spiritually redeemed, and this frustration itself can lead to ill health. One of the most significant prayers in Judaism and the heart of the daily prayers …… The Talmud says that if a member of the family is sick, “let him go to a Torah”. Seeking Torah brings an end to Strife, Healing, Rain (livelihood) and Gathering the Jews in Exile ….. (Rabbi Yitzchok Kirzner and Lisa Aiken, The Art of Jewish Prayer.) 

Rabbeinu Bachya, Commentary to Parshat Eikev 11:13 – The prayer was composed in a language easily understood by the common man. The Men of the Great Assembly instituted this prayer of the Amidah in order that it should be fluent in every mouth. Therefore they instituted it using simple language, in order not to confuse the ideas with their understanding of the language, and so that all of Israel would be equal in prayer, whether they were clever or foolish.

A monumental accomplishment of the Men of the Great Assembly was the formulation of a universal Jewish prayer service. Today, the centerpiece of every service is the prayer known as the Amidah (literally the “standing” prayer). It and its attendant prayers were apparently absent in the First Temple era. The need for such a formalized prayer only first arose when the Jews went into exile in Babylon.
During the exile, the communal experience of the three-times-a-year pilgrimage to the Temple left a vacuum. Without the Temple, essential nutrients in the peoples’ religious diet were lacking. Therefore, the leaders in Babylon codified a system of prayer that substituted for the Temple service. They based this on the prophetic verse, “Our lips will substitute for sacrifices” (Hosea 14:3). When the Jews returned from Babylon to the Land of Israel and rebuilt the Temple, they brought along with them the prayers they had learned in Babylon. The Men of the Great Assembly arranged, placed in order, edited, and formulated the words of the Amidah, as well as its accompanying prayers. This arrangement continued through the entire Second Temple era and has continued until today. Although the individual synagogue system was inferior, it successfully compensated for the shift in Overview of the Amidah I Prayer 4 Jewish life away from the centralized Temple system. Now, with the stamp of approval from the Men of the Great Assembly, Jewish prayer became possible in each community, by each individual, no matter how far away he/she was. Instituting prayer this way not only substituted for the Temple service but compensated for the loss of its central place in Jewish life.
Ramchal (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto), Derech Hashem (The Way of God), translation by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Feldheim Publishers, IV:6:13, p. 321 – There are four worlds. It is also necessary to realize that there are four different worlds. The physical world consists of two components – the celestial and the terrestrial. The celestial is the realm of the stars and planets, while the terrestrial is our realm, here on earth. The two together comprise a single world – the physical. Above this is yet another world, namely the world of angels. Higher than this is yet another world, a third world, that of the highest Forces, as discussed earlier in the first section. This third world is called “The World of the Throne.” On a still higher level we can speak in general of different Influences emanating from God, revelations of His Light, from which the existence of everything in Creation is derived (see the third section, chapter two). In a manner of speaking, the realm of these Influences also can be termed a “World,” one which usually is called “The World of God.”
עוד צריך שתדע שהנה כלל העולמות מתחלק לארבעה: והיינו עולם הזה בשני חלקיו עליון ותחתון, שהם החלק השמימי ונקרא עולם הגלגלים, והיסודיי, והוא הנקרא עולם השפל, וכלל שניהם נקרא עולם אחד. ועל העולם הזה יש עולם המלאכים, ועליו עולם הכחות העליונים—שרשי הבריות שזכרנו בחלק ראשון, ונקרא עולם הכסא, והנה למעלה מהן במדרגה יבחן כלל השפעותיו יתברך, גלויי אורו שמהם נמשכים כל המציאויות כלם ובהם הם תלויים, וכמו שזכרנו בחלק שלישי פרק שני, והנה על דרך השאלה נקרא לכלל כל ההשפעות האלה עולם אחד, ונקראהו עולם האלקות. 
In Kabbalistic terminology, these four worlds are called the worlds of Asiyah (doing), Yetzirah (shaping), B’riah (creating), and Atzilut (the spirit). 2. Ibid., p. 325 – The structure of our daily prayers parallels the four-world structure of Creation. The four parts of the daily prayer service actually parallel the four-part structure of Creation. The first three parts of the service rectify the lower worlds. That is, the readings about the offerings (Korbanot) pertain to the physical world, the praises (Pesukei d’Zimrah) to the world of the angels, the Shema and its blessings to the world of the Throne.
The Amidah, parallel to the World of God, serves as a catalyst helping to incite the emanations from God in all their aspects. 
The Amidah is followed by three other prayers, each contributing to draw downwards a continuation of the emanations, world to world. These are the Kedushah for the Order [in u’Va l’Tzion], the Psalm of the day, and “None Is Like Our God” (Ein k’Elokeinu). At the end of the service, having partaken of God’s blessing, we say Aleinu, to reiterate that God is King, and to spread His Kingship over all the worlds.
 והנה על פי סדר זה נתקנו חלקי התפילה, דהיינו שלשה חלקים בתחילה לתקן שלשה העולמות: עולם הזה, עולם המלאכים, עולם הכסא, וזה, בקרבנות, זמירות, וברכות קריאת שמע. אחר כך תפילה מעומד, והוא כנגד עולם האלוקות, להמשיך ההשפעות לפי בחינותיהן, ואחר כך שלשה חלקים אחרים, להמשיך משך השפע לעולמות זה אחר זה. לבסוף, והיינו קדושה דסידרא, שיר הלוים, ואין כאלקינו, ואחר כל זה עלינו, והוא לחזור ולהמליך מלכותו יתברך על כל העולמות אחר שנתברכו ממנו.
Adapted from Rabbi Eliyahu Munk, The World of Prayer, Feldheim Publishers, pp. 11-12 –
As stated above, the sequence of the Four Worlds represents a progression in the quest for truth, and that path is followed every day in the daily prayer service. The “Four Worlds of the Kabbalah” are: the sphere of material phenomena – העשיה עולם (“the World of Doing”); that of the forms – היצירה עולם (“the World of Shaping”); that of the active forces – הבריאה עולם (“the World of Creating”); and finally the world of the pure ideas – האצילות עולם (“the World of the Spirit”). Our daily prayer service reflects these four dimensions.
The quest for truth must pass through all these four stages if it is to succeed. From our experience in the world of sense perception, the mind extracts the immanent laws of the perceived things, their “forms” which make them what they are. Then it is led, by logical analysis, to seek their causes, the forces that create these forms; finally it penetrates to the Supreme Reason, which is the innermost soul and prime cause moving and controlling the lower worlds. The path traversed by the inquiring mind, however, is the very same one along which the thoughts of the worshipper must pass … to ascend to the Divine presence of the Creator. It is no wonder, then, that our daily Morning
Prayer, in its four main parts, reflects the ascent through the “four worlds.” These parts are: 
The first from the ברכות up to שאמר ברוך, the second from שאמר ברוך to ברכו, the third up to ישראל גאל, and the fourth is the עשרה שמונה. 4. Ibid. – The progression of our quest for God in the daily prayers. In the first section (till שאמר ברוך), man’s practical needs, like awakening and clothing are mentioned. A blessing for the work and welfare of the day follows. Then a description of the daily sacrifice, also a practical matter, is added. Thus the entire beginning is devoted to the העשיה עולם, the world of material phenomena, the point from which the quest for God must set out. The second division, the דזמרה פסוקי deals with God’s revelations of Himself in nature and history. The splendor of nature, the magnificence of the starry sky, the beauty of the reality of our world all proclaim the glory of God. Thus our thoughts rise from the world of human activity to the היצירה עולם, the world of the forms and shapes which are the background and the framework of the activities of our daily life. Behind the היצירה עולם we can discern the הבריאה עולם to which the third section for prayers is devoted, the world of the forces that dominate the Creation.
There are three kinds of forces: the forces of nature, the spiritual and moral ones, and finally those of history and destiny. The three blessings which now follow conform to these three forces. The first one אור יוצר reminds us of the powers active in nature. The “Divine light” attended upon the creation of the Universe, and through its radiation, the world renews itself daily.
Even darkness, apparently the negation of light, is not a destructive force. It takes its turn in the service of God. The second blessing רבה אהבה expresses the idea that God is the ruler over the moral forces active in our world. Yet while the forces that dominate the mechanical, determined world of nature are renewed by God every day, man is free to use the moral and spiritual powers at will, and so must rely upon himself. He can only humbly pray for support from on High: “Enlighten our eyes through thy Torah; make our hearts cleave to Thy commandments,” that he may come to proclaim with every fiber of his being.
Finally, Rabbi Abraham Twerski, Twerski on Prayer (reprinted by – Prayer is supposed to change us, not God. One of the problems that many theologians have grappled with is: “Why and how does prayer work?” If a sick person prays for recovery, he is assuming that God has allowed him to become sick. Is he to believe that his prayer can make God change His mind? One of the answers given is that there is a constant outpouring of Divine benevolence to the world. Just as the sun radiates light, yet there are areas of darkness in enclosures where the sunlight does not reach, so does the Divine benevolence not reach where there are barriers that obstruct it. These barriers are a person’s actions that are contrary to the will of God. Genuine, sincere prayer brings a person into a closer relationship with God. The barriers to the Divine benevolence are thereby removed or circumvented, and the person can then receive this benevolence.
The blessing and improvement in the person’s health is not the result of a change in God’s will, but of a change in the status of the recipient. Genuine prayer brings about a transformation in a person. The newly emerging person can be receptive of the Divine benevolence to which the former person was impervious. It always behooves us to ask God for our needs even while knowing that He has withheld them until now. Prayer is intrinsically an act of recognizing God in our lives, and when we do that we open the gates of blessing.the greater our potentials are, the greater is our frustration when these potentials are not reached. Because we are endowed with a special mission, we have a deep need for fulfillment. Hashem will bring to bear on us many situations such as you have  that allow our souls to become pure. It may be that some of our suffering stems from a gilgul of our Neshama in a prior generation where the person did not do tshuvah and it is our job to do the tikun.

CSA: Open Day at Chubeza Farm (More about Chubeza in Posts 48 and 98).

From Chubeza, one of many community supported farms in Israel.

In keeping with our twice-yearly tradition, we invite you for a Chol HaMoed “pilgrimage” to Chubeza to celebrate our Open Day.
The Sukkot Open Day will take place on Thursday, October 1st, the 18th of Tishrei (third day of Chol HaMoed), between 12:00- 5:00 PM. The Open Day gives us a chance to meet, tour the field, and nibble on vegetables and other delicacies. Children have their own tailor-made tours, designed for little feet and curious minds, plus special activities and a vast space to run around and loosen up.  (So can the adults…)

Driving instructions are on our website under “Contact Us.” Please make sure you check this before heading our way.

Wishing you a Chag Sameach and Shana Tova from all of us at Chubeza.
We look forward to seeing you all!


It’s raining calendars, ladies and gentlemen! Hopefully to be followed by real rain… Dora, an old friend who worked at Chubeza as a young woman (together with her very special family) told me about a unique calendar she and her family are putting together.

It’s a Hebrew-English calendar (there is also an English-Hebrew version) where they combine healthy and vegan recipes, pictures of our beautiful little country and photographs of some delectable dishes.

In order to publish this calendar, Dora invites you all to take part in this initiative by supporting it via headstart. Read all about the idea that led to this enterprise, support the project, take a sneak peek and donate to receive a calendar or other fun gifts. (If you wish to receive the English-Hebrew calendar, make sure to note that in the comments.)

The calendar will be published next week (even if they do not meet their campaign goal on headstart.) Dora and her partners have a Facebook page, link from chubeza site, where you can order the calendar as well.

(note: the orders are via headstart of Facebook)


It’s been nearly a decade since I told you a Rosh Hashana story about pomegranates and people. Since it’s such a beautiful story, full of hope and pomegranate juice, I decided to do a remake and resend it. Enjoy!

A Rosh Hashana Story

In honor of the New Year, let me share a beautiful, touching story I heard from a botanist friend, the kind that can name every single plant by name (Latin, popular, even nickname), who loves plants with all her heart. A few months ago, her eyes sparkling, she told me about a book she’d read telling the story of Dr. Gregory Levine, a botanist from Turkmenistan (north of Iran and Afghanistan, south of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, along the Caspian Seashore. Dr. Levine, a punecologist (I know you have no idea what that means. Be patient…), was a native of Leningrad. He had been a lover of gardens since the tender age of 8 when he planted his first one (potatoes, of course). As time went on throughout Levine’s life in the roller coaster 20th century, everywhere he went he was always drawn to gardens and plants, charmed by them.

Upon completing his post-doctoral studies at the beginning of the 60′s, he received a post as the head of a sub-tropic fruit culture lab in Garrigala (south Turkmenistan), on the Iranian border. Levine then devoted his life to the study and gathering of Germplasm (the living genetic seeds or tissue that carry the hereditary values of various plants), focusing on… pomegranates, of course. You know, we told you he is a punecologist, and punicology originates from the Latin word for pomegranate. “Punica” is the study of pomegranates. In forty years of work in the Garrigala research center, Dr. Levine was able to collect 1117 DNA samples of pomegranate species from 27 countries spanning four continents. This constitutes the greatest collection in the world. Many of the species were acquired in complicated ways, including actual treks the good doctor took, sometimes endangering his life, in the Central Asia and Caucasus Region, the birthplace of the pomegranate and the only place in the world where pomegranates still grow wild.

Most of his work was supported by the Soviet government when Turkmenistan was within the realm of the Soviet Union. But in 1991 when the Soviet Union went under, Dr. Levine’s funding was halted and he could no longer finance his research. His irrigation system was cut off and the great collection of pomegranates, persimmons, pears, apricots, apples, figs and grapes were dying of thirst, as the workers tried desperately to save them, watering each tree individually from water pails they carried from the nearby Sumber River. Brokenhearted at the loss of his life’s work, in 2002 Dr. Levine joined his children in Israel. A short while after he left the lab, the government issued an order to uproot the trees and plow the land. Today, lackluster vegetables grow in place of the rare, unique species.

Would a gal like myself leave you with such a sad story before the New Year?

Just before he left Turkmenistan, in an act of desperation, Dr. Levine sent cuttings from his collection to scientists at the Ben Gurion University down south and to the Agricultural Department of the University of California in Davis. The cuttings were planted and well-received, and Dr. Levine’s legacy, well, our legacy, was rescued (at least partially). Many of the species grow today at the agricultural lab at California University, and every fall a small group of scientists, growers and some other lucky people attend a “pomegranate tasting” festival for black, white, pink, purple, spotted, tiny, sour and sweet pomegranates from the Turkmenistan collection.

The pomegranate is indeed a wondrous fruit, and though it is deeply-rooted in Jewish tradition, from the Song of Songs to the priestly garments to the “seven species,” it’s not a local fruit. As detailed above, the pomegranate’s origins are the Caspian Region-Iran-Turkmenistan, where it first appeared some 4,000 years ago. Since the Middle East does not host the proper pollinators, the pomegranate doesn’t grow wild, but upon being planted it can survive wild even without cultivation. There are those who think its Hebrew name “rimon” comes from the word “rumman,” the Syrian God of Wind, Rain and Thunderstorms, and the pomegranate does ripen at the end of autumn, right before these appear. Another thought is that the Hebrew name derives from the Hindu god Rama.

The pomegranate is a symbol of prosperity, creativity, beauty and fertility (specifically of the feminine type). However, there may be painful consequences to its seductive abilities. One of the versions of the story of Eden is that Eve actually seduced Adam with a pomegranate, not a mere apple. Hades, the God of the Underworld, only needed a few pomegranate seeds to seduce Persephone. He then abducted her to the Underground where she is trapped in an annual circle every winter, killing the growth, and only coming up for air in springtime to bring about blossom and renewal. And then again, winter and summer, the circle of seasons, a new year starts, a new beginning.

From the health perspective: In folk medicine, the pomegranate has always been lauded for its beneficial qualities. Now, in recent years, science has acknowledged that the pomegranate is indeed important for the heart and blood vessels. A daily consumption of pomegranate seeds or juice contributes to the decrease of “bad” cholesterol levels (LDL), blood pressure, to improve blood flow to the heart and even a remission of Atherosclerosis. Its red pigments, the Anthocyanins, have antioxidant value to fight infections. Together with other protectors contained in the pomegranate such as the tannins, they slow down the aging process and work to prevent cancer. The pomegranate contains a high level of elements called Polyphenols which transform pomegranate juice into a very powerful antioxidant, thus slowing down the development of cancer cells.

Folk medicine holds the red pomegranate to be a good source of iron, recommended to those suffering from anemia. Chinese medicine as well views it to be a blood fortifying fruit. In alternative medicine, the pomegranate is used specifically to eliminate intestinal worms and other parasites (by making a concentrated drink out of the crushed peeling). Pomegranate juice is great for wrinkle smoothing, and it aids in decreasing congestion of the liver and eases arthritis. Some even believe that pomegranate consumption can prevent osteoporosis and treat diseases deriving from excess acidity. Due to the high quantity of tannins in the pomegranate peeling, the peelings are recommended for fighting hemorrhoids and anal fissures. The tannins shrink tissues, hastening the recovery process. You can find a list of home remedies employing pomegranates for medicinal use. However, those suffering from kidney stones should not drink too much pomegranate juice due to the excessive oxalic acids it contains.

Pomegranates may also be used to dye cloth. Sometimes unintentionally, as testified by the many new clothes spotted and stained by pomegranate juice splayed all over them… But, it’s your health that counts.

At the end of his book, Dr. Levine writes: “What does future hold in store for the pomegranate?…It will become significant to chemists and for medical research, because within its hard shell lay hidden qualities that can perhaps free us from many illnesses and renew our health in a world maimed by contaminants. The pomegranate will eventually resume its rightful place once held in the Old World of the west and east…But most of all, it’s a fruit. A beautiful, decorative object. It is an aesthetic simile of our world, in its beauty, unity, uniqueness, defense and vulnerability. I honestly don’t know if the pomegranate was lucky to receive me as a researcher, but it was definitely a stroke of luck that brought me to the pomegranate, to listen to its energy and devote my thoughts and actions to it over many years. I hope the kingdom of pomegranates will continue to thrive forever. I recommend that you, the reader, get to know it better.

As the New Year approaches, we wish you all a very good year, one of prosperity, growth, renewal, beauty and fertility. Once again, we thank you all for the support and partnership within the Chubeza community, and invite you to the traditional Open Day taking place on Sukkot (see above). We look forward to seeing you, having a chat, meeting new friends, taking a tour of the field together and showing off our great plants!

14 Share something vegan (and delicious, duh!) with a non-vegan.

Marinated zucchini

Marinated Zucchini Salad

  • YieldServes four


Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times


  • 1 pound medium or small zucchini, preferably a mix of green and yellow
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezedlemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, mint, chives, dill or a combination


  1. Slice the squash as thinly as you can. Sprinkle with salt, preferably kosher salt, and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse and drain on paper towels.
  2. Mix together the lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Toss with the zucchini. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for four to six hours.
  3. Remove from the refrigerator, and remove the garlic clove. Add the fresh herbs, and toss together. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve.


  • Advance preparation: This dish will keep for a day or two, but it is best served just after the herbs are added. The lemony zucchini will lose its flavor over time.


Purée of squash and celeri root 

Delicata Squash, Potato and Celery Root Puree

Read more from



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