Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Third installment in a series written for Felix and Adam. It is late, and I am slightly beyond reason at this point.

I had been deep in conversation with a pipe smoker wearing a kilt when the chicken man walked into the tobacco store. Within mere moments I could feel my eye-lids grow heavy, as a bone-crushing ennui gripped me. The chicken man has that effect. He was trying to tell me a lange eingewikkelte meise about a relative who passed away while simultaneously referring to an English scholar of chassidismus.
As well as a chabadnik, whose connection with the foregoing escaped me.
Four months previously the conversation involved a masechte nobody ever reads, and kabalah.
Those of you who know him, know the effect.

[Kilt: an eccentric Keltic garment, both très geshmak and butch. Lange eingewikkelte meise: a long complicated story. Lang, lange: long. Eingewikkelte: tzerdraite. Meise: a story, a narrative example. Chassidismus: a version of Judaism from Eastern Europe that stresses faith, joy, and sincerity over scholarship and rigour. It provided an alternative to the intelektiwelische drang of the famous Yeshivos, and was consequently much opposed by the brilliant lights of Lithuanian Judaism, and especially by academies such as Volozhin, Slobodka, Ponevetch, and Mir. At the beginning, the contra-Chassidics were identified with the Gaon of Vilna (Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman Kramer), today it is perhaps best to think of Soloveitchik and Brisk as holding such simplicity at bay. Chabad: the Lubavitcher Chassidim, who among other things give much credence to a book that I find impossible to read without fury (Tanya, more commonly known as Likutei Amarim, by Rabbi Shneuer Zalman), but whose many shluchim do much good, even among the Gentiles. Masechte: a tractate of Talmud. One cannot really study Talmud without also going through the Shulchan Aruch ('the well-arranged table', by Yosef Karo) and without having at least a passing familiarity with the Arba Turim of Yakov ben Asher. Kabalah: sheer nonsense, and consequently popular among celebrities.]

The only thing that helps is a massive injection of cortisone, or ingestion of something rich and sweet.
Neither was available. The tobacconist that serves tasty cups of crème caramel, bread pudding, or sweet noodle kugel doesn't exist yet.
And I wouldn't trust any of those people to rip off my shirt and slam a long needle directly through my sternum.

Tzimmes, or noodle kugel? That is the question.
The first does not seem particularly appetizing, even if it is sweet. It requires the company of a plate of brisket, and some fairly mediocre wine.
Whereas a refined pipe smoker like myself would be more inclined towards a dry sherry, and a book about something obscure.

Imagine then, a serving of Kugel, the sherry, a volume of dikdukei soferim, or maybe a Tikkun.


Half a pound fine or medium noodles.
Half a cup sugar.
Quarter cup oil.
One teaspoon ground pepper.
Quarter teaspoon salt.
Three eggs, slightly beaten.

Preheat your oven at 350 degrees.
Cook the noodles till tender in a large pot of salted water. Drain and cool.
Heat the oil and carefully add the half of the sugar. When the sugar turns colour (caramelizes), remove from heat and stir to keep it from burning, then promptly add the noodles, remaining sugar, salt, and pepper, and mix together. When it is cold enough, mix in the eggs. Gloop it all into a greased pyrex dish, and place it in the oven for an hour or so, till gilded and crisped on top.

The amount of pepper can be increased. Raisins can be added but are not orthodox. Note that perfect caramel is a beautiful ruddy hue, whereas anything noticeably darker verges on burnt. Let it sit for while before serving.

Instead, you might prefer something a little more old-fashioned, perhaps with a bit of Amontillado, and a nice article about literary archeology.


Half a pound fine or medium noodles.
Half a cup sugar.
Two cups (1 pint) sour cream.
Two cups (16 fl.oz) applesauce.
Quarter cup raisins.
Pinches cinnamon, dry ginger, ground cardamom, salt.
4 eggs, slightly beaten.

Cook the noodles till tender in a large pot of salted water. Drain and cool.
Mix all ingredients together. Gloop it all into a greased pyrex dish. Dot with butter.
place it in the oven for an hour or so.
Three hundred and fifty degrees.

You could also read The Lonely Man of Faith, by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik while pensively eating your kugeln.
Which is highly recommended.

In any case, either of these kiglech, with or without the sherry, should inculcate a nice Litvishe attitude - more than sufficient to counter the absurd amateurish baalshemism of the chicken man, and in keeping with the spare persevering scholarship of both Rabbi Shmuel Shlomo Boyarksi and Rabbi Mordechai Breuer, who were mentioned in the previous post.
The kugel yerushalmi would probably have even been something that both men had tasted numerous times.

The wine, not so much.

While not yayin nesech, it is stam yainom, and hence something with which neither of those gentlemen would have had much truck.
Rav Breuer because he was a sincere and erliche mentsh, rav Boyarski because as a sofer he had to adhere rigorously to the full set of rules that dictate a clean and trustworthy life. Both were choshuve leite, a chezkas kashrus pre-empts their consuming such a product.
I myself, as mamesh a gontseh goy, have a chezkas of lo kashrus entirely when it comes to food and drink.
As you might have noticed from some of my other food posts.
Though not so much an epicurean as an apikoros.

[Yayin nesech: wine that has been poured for an idol (such as arguably communion wine may be), as was common among the heathens. Stam Yainom: wine handled or made by an idolator or someone who holds by idolatry. Erliche: honest, and by extension upright, sincere, and reliable. Mentsh: human being, but more usually person in the most positive sense. Sofer: a scribe, more specifically a scribe producing religious texts, whose personal conduct, sincerity, and adherence to the rules has to be beyond reproach, in order that the products of his hand can be considered kosher. Choshuve: proper and reliable, respectable. Leite: people. Chezkas Kashrus: one of my favourite concepts, being that there is a presumption of correctness and reliability to a person, organization, or thing, based on what is known. Such as, for instance, the talmid muvak of a respected rabbi might have, or a pipe manufactured by Dunhill prior to the eighties (examine the date marking on the bottom of the shank). Mamesh: a gevaldike virt that serves to emphasize - certainly, completely, entirely, all together, how can you possibly doubt what I say? Gontseh: another gevaldikeit, meaning entirely, all of. Goy: nation, but also a masculine Gentile. Lo: no, not, none. Apikoros: better than a shaigetz, if married to your daughter. But still not quite our kind dearie.]

FINAL NOTE: there is no real connection between a kugel (or kigl) and either gentleman named above. But ever since Rabbi Boyarski was mentioned, I have had Yerushalmi kugel on my mind. A bee in the bonnet, if you will.
No, I cannot explain that. Perhaps it's because it is quintessentially Ashkenazi, perhaps the place name connection.
But perhaps this Thanksgiving you should prepare a kugel as one of the dishes?
It would be far better than that weird candied yam muck.
A bit of ginger is an excellent addition.
Good for your digestion.

[Boyarski: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.]

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


gastronomically amphibious said...

Might there not be potentialities for a line of canned kugeln to be marketed under the label of "Rabbi 'Chef' Boyarski Kugel?

Felix said...

This series is getting more and more interesting and wild, though I must leave out the adjective "informative" for this particular episode. (Well, not quite true -- I did learn something about Chasidismus, Chabad, and Jewish laws about wine. But, all in all, that was a small percentage of the post.)

I like this installment, I do, but I still sure hope you're going to do one on the interesting aspects of Boyarsky's ideology/theology, what Wikipedia calls his "idiosyncratic attitude toward biblical scrolls", including "Scrolls of Nakh (Nevi'im and Kethuvim)" and "Private use of Torah scrolls, by individuals at home".

And after that you can go ahead with your other ones about black ink, blue snail dye, and oak bug crimson red dye.

Felix said...

So? Please? Something about Boyarski's "Idiosyncratic attitude toward biblical scrolls", as the next episode in this wonderful series?

Felix said...

So? Please? Something about Boyarski's "Idiosyncratic attitude toward biblical scrolls", as the next episode in this wonderful series?

Felix said...

Any hope?

The back of the hill said...

Bit of a dry spell, I'm afraid. Need to find more material. Or acquire a copy of Ammudei Sheish.
Which might require more, much more, knowledge of Ivrit than I possess.

Felix said...

That's too bad.

It's 891 words in Wikipedia. I imagine you could make something out of that.

For example, the first paragraph:

"Boyarski had a unique attitude towards the written form of Scripture. It has been typical among Jewish communities for the past millennium to use codexes of Scripture in most situations; since the invention of printing, these have typically been printed codexes. The traditional handwritten scrolls have been retained only for the Torah and the Book of Esther, and even for these books, the scrolls are used only in official liturgical readings. In the eighteenth century, Rabbi Elijah, the Gaon of Vilna, had instituted for haftaroth to be read from handwritten scrolls of the books of Nevi'im, and had ordered a set of full scrolls of all books of Scripture, including even the Kethuvim. Nonetheless, there is no evidence that the Gaon avoided using codices for personal study. In the century following the innovation of the Vilna Gaon, it became moderately common in many communities to write Nevi'im on scrolls, because the books of the Nevi'im are used for liturgical reading of the haftara. On the other hand, it was exceedingly uncommon to write books of the Kethuvim on scrolls."

Why is it so important if these books are on scrolls or codexes? What is so different about the Book of Esther? What are liturgical readings? What is a berakha? etc. Etc. Etc.

Below, what is the importance of a berakha? What makes this project messianic? This doesn't have anything to do with Messianic Judaism, does it?

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