Tag Archives: Passover

More Haroset Recipes

Seder table- Sarajevo Haggadah

Pesach is rapidly approaching. Many people are concerned with house cleaning, buying new pots, and unpacking the Pesach dishes. I’m most concerned with haroset recipes. I love having a variety of flavours at my seder table and integrating traditions from other cultures. haroset is a tasty way of doing both.

The making, distributing, and eating of haroset is a feature in a number of historical haggadot- so I’m not the only person devoted to that detail of our seder. Even the Rambam (Moses Maimonides) had a recipe for the tasty treat.In his 11th century Mishneh Torah, Moses Maimonides gives one of the first written recipes for charoset in which it is said to look like clay mixed with straw: In the Mishneh Torah he instructed [crush] “dates, dried figs, or raisins and the like…add vinegar, and mix them with spices”. stringy spices would help the fruit and nut mixture have the texture of straw.

The following interesting bit of history is from Moment Magazine, The Sweet Story of Charoset, Spring 2009. “The clay interpretation saw its most extreme expression in 1862 when some 20 Jewish-American Union soldiers in an Ohio regiment put a brick on their Seder plate. One of them, Joseph Joel, recalled the experience in the March 30,1866, Jewish Messenger, a New York weekly. He writes that although stranded in the “wilds of West Virginia,” the men in his regiment were able to obtain matzos and Haggadahs and successfully foraged for a weed “whose bitterness…exceeded anything our forefathers enjoyed,” as well as lamb, chicken and eggs. But they could find no suitable ingredients for charoset. “So, we got a brick,” Joel wrote, “which rather hard to digest, reminded us, by looking at it, for what purposes it was intended.” “

Making Haroset – Bird’s Head Haggadah

The last time I posted, I included two recipes for haroset. This week I am including recipes from a variety of places. Maybe you’ll try something new.

Making Haroset – Nuremberg Haggadah
French Provencal Style 
(about 8 cups)

1 pound chestnuts
1 cup blanched almonds
2 medium tart apples, cored and chopped
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup dried figs
1 cup raisins
1 to 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
wine vinegar

1. Cut an X in the shell of chestnuts. Place in boiling water and cook for 15 minutes. Drain. When able to handle, peel off shells.
2. Finely chop chestnuts and almonds. Add fruits and finely chop. Stir in enough wine vinegar to make a thick paste. Add ginger.

Source: Sefer Ha’Menuha, a work of the 13th century Provencal scholar, Rabbi Manoach, as cited in an article by Gil Marks in the Jewish Communications Network archives

Distributing Haroset – Sister Haggadah

Curacao Charoset Balls (Garosa)

14 pitted dates 10 pitted prunes

8 figs, stems removed

cup golden raisins cup cashew nuts lemon, unpeeled and cut in chunks

cup sweet red wine cup honey, or more as needed

2 tablespoons cinnamon to coat

Place dates, prunes, figs, raisins, nuts and lemon in food processor.

Chop coarsely.

Add the wine and cup honey. Process to chop finely.

Mixture should be moist but firm enough to shape. Add a little extra honey if needed.

Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Toss in cinnamon to coat. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Makes 25 to 30 balls. Note: If you prefer, the mixture can be spooned into a serving dish and dusted with cinnamon before serving.

Source: “Celebrating Passover with dishes of Curacao” Ethel Hofman and Myra Chanin PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (on-line edition), 3/25/99

Italian Style

3 apples, sweet or tart
2 pears
2 cups sweet wine
1/3 cup (50 g) pine nuts
2/3 cup (50 g) ground almonds
1/2 lb (250 g) dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup (100 g) yellow raisins or sultanas
4 oz. (100 g) prunes, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar or * cup (125 ml) honey or to taste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Peel and core the apples and pears and cut them in small pieces. Put all the ingredients into a pan together and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until the fruits are very soft, adding a little water if it becomes too dry.

Variations: Other possible additions: chopped lemon or candied orange peel, walnuts, pistachios, dried figs, orange or lemon juice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.

Source: The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden

Israeli Style
(makes 10 side-dish servings)
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 bananas, peeled and chopped
Juice and grated peel of 1/2 lemon
Juice and grated peel of 1/2 orange
15 dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup ground pistachios
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sweet Passover wine
5 tablespoons matzo meal

In large bowl, combine apples, bananas, lemon juice and peel, orange juice and peel, dates and nuts; mix well. Add cinnamon, wine and matzo meal; blend thoroughly.
Source: “A Passover Seder With Israeli Flavor,” from the St. Louis Post Dispatch by Judy Zeidler

Surinam—Seven Fruit (Sephardic Style)
(makes 5 cups)

8 oz. unsweetened coconut
8 oz. chopped walnuts or grated almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
8 oz. raisins
8 oz. dried apples
8 oz. dried prunes
8 oz. dried apricots
8 oz. dried pears
4 oz. cherry jam
sweet red wine

Combine everything except the jam and wine in a pot. Cover with water and simmer over low heat. Periodically, add small amounts of water to prevent sticking. Cook at least 90 minutes. When it is cohesive, stir in the jam and let stand until cool. Add enough sweet wine to be absorbed by the charoset and chill.

Source: The Jewish Holiday Kitchen by Joan Nathan

Enjoy your Pesach preparations.

Be healthy, be positive. All the best to you and yours. By the way, if you love haroset and all its history you will love the book “Haroset: A Taste of Jewish History” by Susan Weingarten.

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Charoset or Haroset

photo from Wikipedia

This year we are preoccupied with the covid-19 virus. Everyone is worried, careful, and wondering how long the anxiety will last. However, covid-19 virus notwithstanding, Pesach will begin on Wednesday night, April 8, 2020. In preparation for that day, I am thinking a lot about charoset. Charoset is one of the fabulous unique flavours we have on that most special night. Maybe it’s an escape, but at least it’s an innocent escape.

Charoset (חרוסת) is a sweet brown paste generally made of fruits, nuts, wine, and spices. The word Charoset may be from the word cheres- חרס, the Hebrew word for clay. The brown sticky spread is designed to remind us of the mortar that the enslaved Israelites used in ancient Egypt. There are many recipes from all over the world each delicious in its own right.

Ashkenazi charoset from Wikipedia

Ashkenazi Jews from eastern Europe tend to have a charoset made of chopped apples, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, sweet red wine and honey. Whether your family came from Russia, Poland, Romania or Hungary, they probably made it that way and that’s what you grew up eating at your seder table.

Mizrachi Jews – whose families come from the Middle East and North Africa Have many different recipes. It seems that each community made its own style of charoset, one that is very different from the Ashkenazi flavour.

Hardy apples walnuts are the main ingredients in the European version. Dates are a staple in the Arab world, and so they are found in nearly every Mizrachi recipe. The European version uses cinnamon as its spice. The Mizrachi flavours include ginger, cardamon, and nutmeg. The Eastern charoset recipes will use pistachios, almonds, pine nuts and/or hazelnuts in the mix.

Figs, cinnamon, cardamon, lemon, ginger –
perfect if there is a nut allergy

Each year I make a few different recipes for charoset. I do the traditional Ahkenazi flavour, a Mizrachi flavour, and my favourite- a Shir haShirim creation. Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs), is read on the Shabbat during Pesach. It is a very romantic love song which describes two lovers seeking  and longing for each other. (In traditional Judaism it is regarded as an allegory for God’s love toward the Jewish people.) Throughout this love poem there are numerous descriptions of nature. One of my favourite verses describes the scent of spices wafting on the soft breezes.  Rabbi Yitzchak Luria  from Tzfat, who lived in the 16th Century suggested making charoset from the nuts, fruits, and spices mentioned in the Song of Songs.

Over each of the next weeks leading up to Pesach I will include a recipe from another culture. Below I have listed the fruits, nuts and spices mentioned in Shir haShirim (Song of Songs) with their sources- you can create your own recipe. I have also included the traditional Ashkenazi recipe.If you want to send on YOUR charoset recipe it would be lovely to find out what you do.

Stay safe, and be healthy. This too shall pass. Have a good week and a good Shabbat, Laya

Ingredients for a Shir haShirim Charoset  (with quotations from the original text. )

  • APPLES 2:3  Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men.
  • APPLES 2:5  Feed me with dainties, refresh me with apples
  • FIGS 2:13  The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
  • POMEGRANATE  4:13  Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates     GRAPES 2:15  … our vineyards (grape vines) are in blossom.
  • WALNUTS  6:11  I went down into the walnut grove…
  • DATES 7:7   This thy stature is like to a palm-tree…
    ADDITION OF WINE 1:2   For thy love is better than wine.                       SPICES 4: 13, 14  henna with spikenard plants,  Spikenard and saffron, calamus and  cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spice

Traditional Ashkenazi Charoset

  • 3 medium apples- Canadians prefer macintosh (!) peeled, cored, and finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet red wine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon honey

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The Last Meal in Egypt

Moses and Pharaoh by Laya Crust

This week’s parsha, “Bo”, recounts the last three plagues God inflicted on the Egyptians. It also describes the last meal in Egypt. The story of the Ten Plagues and the escape of the Israelites from Egypt was the beginning of a new epoch for the Israelites. This exodus would be the event that forged a new nation.

I was struck by the God’s explicit instructions. He told the Israelites what to wear, how to paint the doorposts with blood, not to go outside the family compound, and to be ready to leave in haste. I tried to picture the situation. How would the Israelites feel, being told to brazenly roast a lamb- an animal deified by their oppressors, gather a huge group together in order to eat the Egyptian deified food, and eat it while dressed to flee? It sounds daunting.

The Israelites were told “…take a lamb to a family, a lamb to a household. But if the household is too small for a lamb, let him share with a neighbour who lives nearby, in proportion to the number of persons:” (Exodus 12: 3,4). This instruction made sure not to waste any food, but to share in both the preparation and the food. Every single family – men, women and children- would make their own offering. To use it all they would have to share. It was to be a special and memorable meal officiated not by a priest or leader but by the entire family.

According to one recipe an entire roasted lamb can feed up to 45 people. So how could so many people gather to roast and eat an entire lamb? They couldn’t leave the house to eat outside. Anyone who stepped through the doorway that had been marked with blood would be subject to the punishment of death visited upon the Egyptians.

In many communities there might have been six or eight connected houses built around a courtyard. Each house was inhabited a relative with his family. Families met to eat and cook in the central courtyard. The patriarch’s house would have an entrance to the town thoroughfare. This could explain how a group of 30 – 45 people could gather together in an enclosed space to eat an entire lamb.

The Israelites were told, “This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded,your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand: and you shall eat it in haste, “בְּחִפָּזוֹן”. ( Exodus 12:11) The word “חִפָּזוֹן” is used only three times in Torah. The second time “חִפָּזוֹן” is used is in Deuteronomy 12:3. Moshe was describing the Passover observance of the future, which would mirror the meal from the night of the exodus.

He said ,”You shall slaughter the Passover sacrifice, from the flock and the herd…you shall eat unleavened bread, bread of distress – for you departed from the land of Egypt hurriedly (בְּחִפָּזוֹן)- so that you may remember the day of your departure from the land of Egypt as long as you live”. To make the memory even sharper and more accurate Moshe added, “none of the flesh of what you slaughter on the evening of the first day shall be left until morning.” (Deuteronomy 16:4)

What a scene. Bustling and fevered preparation beginning at midnight, followed by a huge group of people eating roasted lamb in the common courtyard behind the doors to the streets. Dressed in sandals, holding their staffs as they ate meat and herbs, ready to leave at a moment’s notice. And this was under the noses of their slave masters and the Pharaoh. This is a view of that night, a scene of excitement and trepidation.

Maybe that’s something that should be brought to our seder tables at Pesach. Maybe we should try to communicate to our children and even to ourselves what astounding preparation and activity was going on behind closed doors.

As mentioned above the preparation was outlined “so that you may remember the day of your departure from the land of Egypt as long as you live”. And that is what the Pesach seder does. It brings together families and friends, unites communities and Jews all around the world. So these are my thoughts this week. Thoughts about preparation, uncertainty, the organization of the home and sharing of space for meals, and how בְּחִפָּזוֹן is a rarely used word (in Torah) that was used for a specific type of panic and haste.

Shabbat Shalom, Laya

Here are some food ideas for your Shabbat Bo table. 3 plagues: locusts, darkness, and death

Locusts

Darkness

Death of the first born-
broken hearts

You can make your own roasted meat (lamb if you want) by marinating it in olive oil and curry powder with onions, then frying or barbecuing it. If you want, eat it wearing sandals, and holding a staff! Bon Appetit.

Image result for israeli shawarma

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Pesach, Havdalah, and Rabbits

Havdalah, Barcelona Haggadah, 15th C. Spain

Pesach is coming. It will be here just a couple of days, beginning on Friday night, March 30, 2018 . Those of us who live outside of Israel are expected to have two seders, the second one starting after Shabbat on Saturday night, March 31. On Saturday nights we Jews perform a beautiful ceremony called Havdalah- a ceremony that involves fire, wine, spices, and song. It gets a little  complicated when we observe a special holiday on Saturday night that calls for the kiddush and the Havdalah ceremony too (like the second seder, this year).

What is the right order of the prayers? Do we do the holiday kiddush first or say the Havdalah prayers first? When do we light the fire?There is a specific blessing recited on holidays in general (the שהחינו –  the she’he’chianu”). When is that said?

  Rabbah bar Nachmani  (c. 270 – c. 330 C.E.) taught that the correct order of the prayers was yayin (wine), kiddush, ner, (candle), havdalah, zeman (she’he’chianu). To make the order easier to remember Rabbah coined the acronym יקנהז (YaKNeHaZ).

In many of the early haggadot we see the word יקנהז written either immediately before or after the kiddush or havdalah prayers.

P1140751

This is from the Bird’s Head Haggadah, 1290 Southern Germany. The small letters in the centre of the page say, “When the first [night] is on the evening after Shabbat [do] the blessings use the acronym YaKNeHaZ”.

So there we see it written, all the way back 7 1/4 centuries ago.

Somewhere along the route of history someone realized that YaKNeHaZ sounds a lot like the German “jag den has”( pronounced like “yag den has) which means “hunt the hare”. An illustrator got the idea to illustrate the term with a hare hunt.

RABBIT, RUN: An image from a Haggadah written by the scribe Meir Jaffe in southern Germany, circa 1490. Southern Germany, c.1490

This seems to have started a trend, and many haggadot could be seen with hare hunts. Eventually there was an additional layer of interpretation put onto the imagery. The hare was associated with the Jew being hunted down by a hunter and his dogs. Below is a woodcut from the Prague haggadah of 1526.  The hunter and dogs are trapping the hares in a net.

But, don’t despair. The allusion was taken a step farther. In the woodcuts from the Augsburg Haggadah of 1534 there are two scenes of Jag den has. The first shows the hare being hotly pursued by dogs and a hunter. The hare runs into the net and seemingly will  be caught.

But look at what the artist did next-  our “wiley wabbits” -or smart hares- managed to slip under the fence while the hounds and hunter were kept at bay.

Jewish illustrators and artists often used humour in their drawings. A great deal of wit can be found in border illustrations of our historic manuscripts and books. I love this little section from the Barcelona Haggadah, showing a rabbit or hare keeping a dog in order, accepting the kiddush wine  from a formally attired cat or pig.
 Barcelona Haggadah, 14th C.

Hares, rabbits, dogs, and other animals -even dragons- appear liberally in Jewish and Christian medieval manuscripts. If you want a nice romp through whimsy look up some medieval manuscripts and you’ll see some great imagery.

The next time you wonder how to do kiddush and havdalah on a holiday remember “YaKNeHaZ”, the hare hunt, and smile. Share this blog with your friends and family at your seder table!

Follow my blog by clicking on the “Follow Me” button near the top of the page.

Have a great Pesach and Shabbat Shalom,

Laya

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Charoset or Haroset

Image result for charoset
photo courtesy of enwikipedia

This year, 2020, Pesach begins on Wednesday night, April 15. There is a lot of preparation for Pesach- cleaning, shopping and preparing. Many of us are distressed by the current covid-19 virus scare. Some people distract themselves with movies, others with cleaning, but I distract myself with charoset flavours from other traditions. Charoset is one of the fabulous unique flavours we have on that most special night.

Charoset (חרוסת) is a sweet brown paste generally made of fruits, nuts, wine and spices. The word Charoset is from the word cheres- חרס, the Hebrew word for clay. The brown sticky spread is designed to remind us of the mortar that the enslaved Israelites used in ancient Egypt. There are many recipes from all over the world each delicious in its own right.

Image result for charoset
Standard Ashkenazi ingredients

Ashkenazi Jews from eastern Europe tend to have a charoset made of chopped apples, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, sweet red wine and honey. Whether your family came from Russia, Poland, Romania or Hungary, they probably made it that way and that’s what you grew up eating at your seder table.

Mizrachi Jews – whose families come from the Middle East and North Africa Have many different recipes. It seems that each community made its own style of charoset, one that is very different from the Ashkenazi flavour.

Hardy apples walnuts are the main ingredients in the European version. Dates are a staple in the Arab world, and so they are found in nearly every Mizrachi recipe. The European version uses cinnamon as its spice. The Mizrachi flavours include ginger, cardamon, and nutmeg. The Eastern charoset recipes will use pistachios, almonds, pine nuts and/or hazelnuts in the mix.

Dates, figs, cinnamon, cardamon, lemon, ginger –
perfect if there is a nut allergy

Each year I make a few different recipes for charoset. I do the traditional Ahkenazt flavour, a mizrachi flavour, and my favourite- a Shir haShirim creation. Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs), is read on the Shabbat during Pesach. It is a very romantic love song which describes two lovers seeking  and longing for each other. (In traditional Judaism it is regarded as an allegory for God’s love toward the Jewish people.) Throughout this love poem there are numerous descriptions of nature. One of my favourite verses describes the scent of spices wafting on the soft breezes.  Rabbi Yitzchak Luria  from Tzfat, who lived in the 16th Century suggested making charoset from nuts, fruits, spices mentioned in the Song of Songs.

Below I have listed the fruits, nuts and spices mentioned in Shir haShirim (Song of Songs) with their sources- you can create your own recipe. I have also included the Ashkenazi standard.

I will post a different charoset recipe each week as we approach Pesach. If you want to share YOUR recipe please send it on. It would be lovely to find out what you do.

In the meantime, stay safe and good wishes to you , your family and your friends. This too will pass. Have a good week and a Shabbat Shalom. Laya

Ingredients for a Shir haShirim Charoset  (with sources from the original text. )

  • APPLES 2:3  Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved  among the young men.
  • 2:5  Feed me with dainties, refresh me with apples
  • FIGS 2:13  The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their      fragrance.
  • POMEGRANATE  4:13  Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates                           GRAPES 2:15  … our vineyards (grape vines) are in blossom.
  • WALNUTS  6:11  I went down into the walnut grove…
  • DATES 7:7    This thy stature is like to a palm-tree…
    ADDITION OF WINE 1:2   For thy love is better than wine.                                               SPICES 4: 13, 14  henna with spikenard plants,  Spikenard and saffron, calamus and  cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spice

Traditional Ashkenazi

  • 3 medium apples- Canadians prefer macintosh (!) peeled, cored, and finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet red wine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Yemenite — food.com

  • 1cup slivered almonds
  • 12 cup dried apricots
  • 1cup figs dried quartered
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons  finely grated lime or lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 -4 tablespoons sweet white wine
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds – optional

PERSIAN CHAROSET- HALEK    food.com

  • 1cup dates
  • 1cup shelled pistachios
  • 1cup almonds (shelled)
  • 1cup raisins
  • 1 each: apple, orange, banana-finely  chopped
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 1cup sweet wine
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1teaspoon black pepper 

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Shawarma to go

The Washington Haggadah,  1478,   by Yoel ben Simeon

When the Israelites were about to leave Egypt, God told them to take a lamb. He directed Moses that …”They shall eat it roasted over the fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs…” (Exodus 12:8)…God continued the instructions. “This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly;” (Exodus 12:11)

It occurred to me that as well as telling the story of the exodus from Egypt through the haggadah, we could commemorate the exodus in another way. Through our menu.

This year I have decided to make a shawarma style main course. It will be delicious, easy, fun, and maybe even instigate a different kind of discussion.

Chicken Shawarma

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

1  1/2 kilos  (3. 3 lbs)  deboned chicken breast or chicken thighs

3 onions, sliced

2 Tbsp olive oil

salt, pepper to taste

Marinade

1 Tbsp. chicken soup mix

3/4 c. olive oil

2 Tbsp curry powder

1 Tbsp. garam masala (or a mixture of cinnamon, cumin, coriander and pepper)

Method:

Slice the chicken into strips.

Make the marinade and pour over the chicken , letting it rest for at least 2 hours. It’s great if you can let it marinate longer- even overnight.

Fry the onions in a large frying pan. Add the marinated chicken and fry until the chicken is cooked through.

And that’s it! Super easy!

We’ll have a table full of hot sauce, “charif”, olives, pickles, coleslaw, and chopped cabbage to add to our “not-laffa” and shawarma.

Our vegetarians will get to tuck into marinated, sauteed portobello mushrooms, onions, and eggplant.

Have a good time at your seder, and if you try the shawarma recipe, let me know!

Chag kasher v’sameach,

Laya


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Pesach and the Hare Hunt

Havdalah, Barcelona Haggadah, 15th C. Spain

Pesach is coming. It will be here just a couple of weeks from now, beginning on Friday night, April 22, 2016. Those of us who live outside of Israel are expected to have two seders, the second one starting after Shabbat on Saturday night, April 23. On Saturday nights we Jews perform a beautiful ceremony called Havdalah- a ceremony that involves fire, wine, spices, and song. It gets a little  complicated when we observe a holiday on Saturday night that calls for the kiddush and the Havdalah ceremony too.

What is the right order of the prayers? Do we do the holiday kiddush first or say the Havdalah prayers first? When do we light the fire?There is a specific blessing recited on holidays in general (the שהחינו –  the she’he’chianu”). When is that said?

  Rabbah bar Nachmani  (c. 270 – c. 330 C.E.) taught that the correct order of the prayers was yayin (wine), kiddush, ner, (candle), havdalah, zeman (she’he’chianu). To make the order easier to remember Rabbah coined the acronym יקנהז (YaKNeHaZ).

In many of the early haggadot we see the word יקנהז written either immediately before or after the kiddush or havdalah prayers.

P1140751

This is from the Bird’s Head Haggadah, 1290 Southern Germany. The small letters in the centre of the page say, “When the first [night] is on the evening after Shabbat [do] the blessings use the acronym YaKNeHaZ”.

So there we see it written, all the way back 7 1/4 centuries ago.

Somewhere along the route of history someone realized that YaKNeHaZ sounds a lot like the German “jag den has”( pronounced like “yag den has) which means “hunt the hare”. An illustrator got the idea to illustrate the term with a hare hunt.

RABBIT, RUN: An image from a Haggadah written by the scribe Meir Jaffe in southern Germany, circa 1490. Southern Germany, c.1490

This seems to have started a trend, and many haggadot could be seen with hare hunts. Eventually there was an additional layer of interpretation put onto the imagery. The hare was associated with the Jew being hunted down by a hunter and his dogs. Below is a woodcut from the Prague haggadah of 1526.  The hunter and dogs are trapping the hares in a net.

But, don’t despair. The allusion was taken a step farther. In the woodcuts from the Augsburg Haggadah of 1534 there are two scenes of Jag den has. The first shows the hare being hotly pursued by dogs and a hunter. The hare runs into the net and seemingly will  be caught.

But look at what the artist did next-  our “wiley wabbits” -or smart hares- managed to slip under the fence while the hounds and hunter were kept at bay.

 

This was the next chapter in a long book of how Jews perceive their lot in the world. With the fear of anti-semitism around them, Jewish illustrators and artists used art and humour to play with words and make the most of a situation.When we speak of humour in Jewish art there is a great deal to be found in the border illustration of our historic manuscripts and books. I love this little section from the Barcelona Haggadah, showing a rabbit or hare keeping a dog in order, accepting the kiddush wine  from a formally attired cat or pig.
 Barcelona Haggadah, 14th C.

Hares, rabbits, dogs, and other animals -even dragons- appear liberally in Jewish and Christian medieval manuscripts. If you want a nice romp through whimsy look up some medieval manuscripts and you’ll see some great imagery.

The next time you wonder how to do kiddush and havdalah on a holiday remember “YaKNeHaZ”, the hare hunt, and smile. Share this blog with your friends and family at your seder table!

Follow my blog by clicking on the “Follow Me” button near the top of the page.

Have a great week and Shabbat Shalom,

Laya

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