Why Do We Fall?

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We’ve all fallen.

And it hurts…Sometimes a lot…

Whether it’s falling in mitzvoth, breaking up with our girlfriend, getting laid off from our job…

It feels awful, we don’t understand why…

“Why does it have to be so hard?”

“How will I recover from this slump?”

“How can god ever forgive me?”

“What should I do?”

We start by realizing what God expects from us: to get up.

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One Simple Word that can Change Your Life

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Remember when you were 1 year old, and you kept on falling down on your ass when you first tried walking?

You don’t?

Well allow me to refresh your memory… because believe it or not, the 1 year old version of yourself is about to teach you a very valuable lesson.

And since he’s 1 year old and doesn’t share your rich vocabulary, he’ll do it with just a single word.

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Best Easy Matzo Balls Chicken Soup Recipe

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What is a Passover Seder table worth without some traditional Jewish matzo ball chicken soup?

Matzo balls (or matzo kleis if you’re Yiddish) is what many people consider their favorite Kosher for Passover meal.

It’s kind of “expected” during Passover:

  • Your kids probably expect it. Because what else will they eat when they can’t eat their favorite Chometz food for a week? 
  • Your guests definitely expect it, especially since they probably brought you some great Passover gifts.
  • And let’s face it – even you’re probably looking forward to it, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.

So if you’re going to cook this Passover, there’s no way I’m going to let you skip matzo balls this Pesach. 

Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to make matzo ball soup yet, soon enough you’ll be making it from scratch and you’ll discover how easy it is. 

Let’s get cooking. 

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Jewish Wedding Traditions & Rituals – Demystified

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So you’re headed for a Jewish wedding.

Mazel Tov!

It’s a bit different than the weddings you’ve probably been to… 

Many weird rituals, customs and traditions that you probably haven’t seen before.

So if it’s your first time attending a Jewish wedding, then you should know what you’re up against so you won’t scratch your head all night wondering what the hell is going on.

The Reception (Kabalat Panim)

This is where you get to smile to the camera for the first time.

You’ll usually have the couple’s family greeting you at the entrance and where the hugs & kisses are given (depending on how religious the wedding is, so be careful).

But then comes what some guests consider their favorite part of the wedding (though they won’t admit it).

Food, snacks & alcohol, obviously.

It’s a party after all. We’re here to celebrate. So it’s custom to have some delicious food at the reception.

Wait, but Why?

“What’s the point of having this reception?”

Imagine going to a restaurant. You don’t eat the main course right away, nor does the waitress even bother you at first.

First you want your guests to relax, order starters, a few refreshments and drinks.

Signing the Ketubah

Jewish Ketubah

Let’s call the Ketubah what it is.

It’s basically a prenuptial agreement stating the groom’s responsibilities over his wife.

It’s basically is a one-side contract that specifies the groom’s responsibility for his wife. It requires the husband to provide her basic necessities, such as food, clothing and conjugal rights. It also requires the husband to pay a pre-specified amount of money in case the couple file for divorce.

The woman essentially get’s a bill of protection signed by her husband, and a fine piece of art – which might end up getting displayed in their future home, if the husband is (un)lucky.

Wait, But Why?

“Isn’t this a bit “old-fashioned”?

Many modern Jewish couples believe so.

There’s been a trend in the past few couple of years of slightly “modifying” the Ketubah to fit into our modern days of society, including even the language in which they write the Ketubah (originally written in Aramaic).

This obviously raises many questions (especially among Orthodox Jews)… but let’s not go into that debate shall we.

Veiling the Bride

“Upon seeing her husband-to-be, Isaac, for the first time, Rebecca “took her veil and covered herself.” (Gen. 25:65)

The veiling of the bride is also commonly known as “Badeken”.

The groom is led towards his bride, usually accompanied by the two fathers.

The veil most important role is to highlight the groom’s interest in his bride’s personality and inner beauty, VS her external beauty.

Wait, but Why?

What’s the real reasons behind the veil?

There are many other symbolical reasons why women wear a veil on their wedding night:

  • The veil represents dignity, honor and pureness.
  • It’s a symbol for modesty.
  • It conveys maturity and significance.

So it kind of makes sense why it represents married women – to signify the importance and holiness of this moment, and her new status as a married woman.

Chuppah

Jewish Chuppah

Image by RAFAJOHN_456

The Chuppah is probably the most emotional part of the wedding. It’s where the actual wedding ceremony takes place.

Fun Fact

The Chuppah is actually the wedding canopy, but the word “Chuppah” was popularized to also describe the ceremony itself.

The Chuppah represents the future home the bride and groom will create. The “walls” of the Chuppah are actually played by the couple’s family & friends, to represent the future love and care they will surround their own home and family with.

In some Jewish cultures (especially Ashkenazi), it’s common for the bride to circle the groom seven times.

Why 7 times? To strengthen their new built foundation and symbolize their own “new world” they’re about to create.

Did You Know?

The number 7 has many strong associations in Judaism. It represents creation (the world was creation in 7 days), fortune and blessing (Sabbath = 7th day).

After the rabbi finishes reciting a few blessings over wine, the groom places a solid, gold ring on the woman’s finger while citing the Talmud:

“Be sanctified to me with this ring in accordance with the law of Moses and Israel”

In Hebrew: הֲרֵי אַתְּ מְקֻדֶּשֶׁת לִי בְּטַבַּעַת זוֹ כְּדַת מֹשֶׁה וְיִשְׂרָאֵל

Wait, but Why?

“Why a solid, gold ring? What does it symbolize? Tell me more!”

There are actually quite a few reasons for it:

  • The ring’s circle shape represents the eternity of the bond the couple is now forming
  • Traditionally, the ring should be made of plan gold and have a solid exterior – without any ornamentation covering it, to represent the hope that the married couple’s marriage will be clean and solid as the ring

Seven Blessings

Here’s the number seven again.

The seven blessings, also known as “Sheva Berakhot”, is where the rabbi recites seven blessings for the new young couple.

The blessings cover several aspects:

  • Thanking & praising god for his creation
  • Wishing the couple will rejoice together forever like Adam & Eve
  • A prayer for rebuilding Jerusalem and the holy temple

Wait, but Why?

“What’s the real meaning of Sheva Berakhot?”

The true meaning of the seven blessings is to acknowledge that the couple’s marriage has a much higher goal than satisfying their own needs and desires.

They’re marriage represents completeness, the combining of two split souls into one complete soul, which was created in God’s image.

Break the Glass!

Ready?

Set?

Break!

“Mazel Tov!”

Yes, that’s usually how it goes.

The groom shatters a glass with his foot to express the destruction of the holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Wait, but Why?

“Ok, I get it… but why break a glass? That can’t be the only reason?”

The popular answer is that it commemorates the fall of Jerusalem.

But actually, there’s a deeper meaning behind it.

The breaking of the glass represents the two fragmented souls.

Before the souls were sent to this world, they were originally a one complete soul. When they got sent here, they were split into two soul fragments: one male, one female.

When a Jewish couple get’s married, their souls reunite again, which gave us a reason for this wonderful celebration.

The breaking of the glass symbolizes that everything happens for the best… and if your one soul wouldn’t have been shattered into two parts, you wouldn’t be able to celebrate with your loved ones this joyous moment of two souls reuniting into one soul again.

That’s also why people yell Mazal tov at this moment, because we trust that everything happens for the best.

Seudah (aka Party Time)

Yes, it’s called Seudah (feast).

But the highlight here is probably the drinking, the dancing and the partying.

It’s considered a huge Mitzvah to bring joy to the bride and groom at their special day, and this is where you get to express it.

So why not, have a glass of wine.

Wait, but Why?

“It’s their wedding day… aren’t they happy already? Why do they need me to dance like a mad man and spread my love?”

You get to fulfill the Mitzvah of “love thy neighbor as thyself”

Making one’s personal celebration a community celebration. Love is best celebrated when shared with many people, VS by yourself.

Yichud

Finally, some alone time. No parents, friends, or cameramen to be found (I hope).

Just you and your new spouse. Together. Looking at each other’s eyes, reflecting on the day you just had, and on the life ahead of you together. And it starts right at this moment, at the Yichud.

Wait, but why

“Why do they need time to be alone?” I want to continue celebrating with them!”

You’ll understand when you grow older.

Summary

A Jewish wedding is a big deal.

Lot’s of happiness, joy and emotions involved.

It’s where Jewish tradition meats uniqueness.

Where old meets new.

Where old Jewish men/women will try to set you up with their niece/nephew (even when you’re not single).

Don’t worry, you’ll have a great time!

Mazel Tov 🙂

Passover Apple Cake with Pecans Recipe

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One of the fun things about Passover (besides the seder and the Passover gifts) is that you get to cook things you normally wouldn’t have thought about during the rest of the year.

And obviously if you’re making things for the seder, then you get to satisfy a lot of people after all that maror they just had.

That’s where this delicious Passover apple pecan cake, written and shared with us by Denise from Jewish Cookery, comes in.

It’s sweet, it’s delicious and it’s parve, so you can serve it as a seder dessert with tea.

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Chocolate Balls Recipe for Purim – Quick & Easy

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So you’re in the Purim spirit. 

That means you’re probably looking for quick & easy treats to make for your kids (besides Hamantaschen of course), or even better – with your kids. 

Am I right?

Yep, these chocolate balls are probably what you’re looking for. 

Because you know that every Mishloach Manot deserves a personal touch, and what’s more personal than homemade chocolate balls?

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Passover Gift Ideas: The Complete Seder Gift Guide for Pesach 2017

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The Passover seder is approaching.

Can you feel the pressure?

I bet you do.

Probably because you’re not really sure what you should bring to the seder (the Jewish Passover feast) dinner.

But you do know that it’s not really a good idea to come to the seder empty-handed…

And I guess if you’re reading this, you’re looking for some special Passover gift ideas for your special hostess, friends & family.

So first of all relax… I’m here to help.

And that’s exactly what this article is for: to help you find the best Kosher for Passover gifts.

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Bar + Bat Mitzvah Gift Etiquette & Traditions

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So, you have been invited to a Bar or Bat mitzvah. How exciting!

Just remember: it’s a special occasion for both the parents, but for the young adult in particular.

A special once-in-a-life-time occasion for the young girl or boy…

They’ve arrived at the age of Mitzvot.

To celebrate their joyous moment in time, there are certain Bar & Bat Mitzvah gift etiquette & traditions you should be familiar with.

So it’s important to choose your Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah gift very carefully. 

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Sushi Hamantaschen (Onigiri): A Healthy Hamantaschen Alternative

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Hamantaschen is the official Purim snack – we all know that.

But for some of us the standard poppy seed Hamantaschen cookies just don’t cut it anymore.

It’s quite understandable… It can get quite boring after a few straight Purims.

The solution?

Creativity.

Pablo Picasso used to say: “Good artists borrow, great artists steal”.

But since stealing is not nice, let’s just “borrow” a popular Japanese dish 🙂

That dish is called Onigiri, which stands for “rice ball”.

Our Onigiri obviously won’t be “ball-shaped”, but rather Hamantaschen-shaped (triangle).

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