Hi, everyone! I am proud to present the following Halacha infographic I designed, based on the Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi’s Seder Birchos Hanehnin (Order of the Blessings on Benefit)…and just in time for Purim! On this holiday, we have a custom to eat foods made as a type of stuffed pouch (e.g. hamantaschen, kreplach, knishes, etc.) whose content is hidden, reminiscent of how G-d’s intervention is concealed in the Purim story. It’s a seemingly mundane tale of twists and turns, palace drama and coincidence, but if you probe between the lines, you discover just what a mind-boggling miracle it in truth was. Explore for yourself! One lucid and phenomenally-translated presentation of Megillas Esther is available online, at the link here. I hope you enjoy this Halachic design (any feedback is always much appreciated) as well as an heirloom family recipe; plus, whipping it up will give you a chance to apply what you learn from the Halacha! Wishing you and yours a very Happy Purim, and may you always be blessed with joy, the illumination of Torah, and the ability to perceive the bountiful hidden miracles in your life! L’chayim!
Preliminary note to the reader: The case discussed in this infographic is just one of many relating to primary and secondary (Hebrew: “ikar v’tafel”) foods, and how we judge what blessing(s) they warrant. You can learn the words of the different blessings for over different types of food, here. Also, note the use of some (transliterated) Hebrew terms employed in the diagram: “brocho” means blessing, and a “brocho levataloh” means a blessing in vain, i.e. a blessing in which you pronounce G-d’s holy name unnecessarily. This is a very important concept to be aware of in reciting brochos, and we’re strongly encouraged to learn these laws so we can prevent such an error from taking place. It may surprise you to know that it might not be required to say a blessing over every food-item we place into our mouth. For example, we often see this in the case of ikar and tafel, since our primary food (which we precede with a blessing) may exempt and include the secondary food that accompanies it, rendering an independent brocho over the tafel superfluous and even prohibited.
“RESPECT THE POUCH!”
My Great-Grandmother’s Knish Recipe
Status: Fleishig/Meat — Yield: 12-18 knishes (depending on size)
~ 6 well-beaten eggs
~ 6 cups flour
~ 1 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
~ 1 tablespoon baking power
~ A dash of salt
For meat filling:
~ 8 medium or 6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
~ Margarine (I like to use soy-free)
~ 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef (the less fat the better; I use 85%)
~ 3 medium yellow onions, diced
~ Salt and black pepper
~ Garlic Powder
~ Celery salt
~ Canola or vegetable oil for frying
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine dry ingredients. Make well in center and add wet ingredients. Mix with fork until dough forms. Make uniform balls and wrap in plastic wrap; set aside. Do not refrigerate.
For meat filling:
Boil potatoes until soft, and drain. Mash and add margarine, salt, black pepper and celery salt, all to taste. In separate pot or skillet, fry onions in oil, then add meat and brown. Drain. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste, and mix until evenly seasoned. Combine potato and meat mixtures.
Divide dough into 3 or 4 pieces. Working with one at a time, roll out on floured work-surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into squares. (To give you an idea: A piece of dough, roughly the size of a piece of copy paper, should yield 4 large or 6 medium knishes). Place filling in center, but do not overfill, or they will open when cooking. Gather each corner toward middle. Take in hand and pinch. The result should be a square knish; if not, don’t worry – they will still taste great! Alternatively, you may take a round cookie-cutter or the round opening of an overturned drinking glass to cut out squares. When gathered and pinched at three equidistant points it will form a triangular shape whose center’s filling peeks out. Repeat with rest of dough. Scraps can be balled together in your palms and re-rolled, no-waste. Place knishes on greased cookie sheet, and bake for 20 minutes or until golden (not browned).
Does this halacha extend to a stuffed food whose exterior isn’t a grain-dough, e.g. stuffed cabbage, that is vegetable wrapped around an interior of meat and often rice? Or is the blessing (and ikar v’tofel status) different?