Aley Chubeza #151, March 11th-13th 2013

Season of Renewal

It’s the month of Nisan, and spring is here – crazy, restless, confusing. This week we are expecting some actual heat waves (35 degrees!) and an overcast rainy horizon. It’s the time of renewal and changes.

Eliko, a veteran Chubeza client and friend, sent me this video of an instructive finger exercise.  Take a few minutes to rejuvenate during your very active day.

Wishing you pleasant days, filled with surprises and freshness.

Some Pre-Pesach messages:

  • § There will be no delivery over Chol Hamoed, Wednesday, March 27, and Monday, April 1.
  • § Deliveries scheduled for the Monday before Pesach will be brought up to Sunday, March 24.

Those who wish to expand your box or make a special holiday order, please inform us ASAP.

Subscribing to our weekly newsletter

The best way to receive messages and updates is via our weekly newsletter, which is published on our website and arrives directly to your email inbox. Those who do not receive the newsletter and wish to do so, please advise.  If you prefer to receive a hard copy along with your box, please notify me.

Open Day at Chubeza:

In keeping with our twice-yearly tradition, we invite you for a Chol HaMoed “pilgrimage” to Chubeza to celebrate our Open Day.

The Pesach Open Day will take place on Thursday, March 28, the 17th of Nissan, between 1:00 PM-6:00 PM. For those who have not yet experienced it, 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 activities and a vast space to run around and loosen up.  (So can the adults…)

On the Open Day, we also have a stand for vegetable sales, so you can replenish your vegetable supply.

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

Chag Sameach from all of us at Chubeza! We look forward to seeing you!

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In preparation for Pesach, Asaf Nov of Minchat Ha’aretz will be selling soft Shmura Matza, handmade from organic Israeli wheat. The matzot are under the supervision of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg of Tzfat. Price: 110 NIS per kg.

Contact Asaf: 052-6493837

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And in the holiday spirit: Melissa announces the 500 Leather Campaign.  As we draw closer to the sale of fruit leather #500, it will be given free to the lucky person whose order hits the magic number. We won’t tell which flavor is the most popular one, but the privileged leather will be appropriately marked… Good luck!

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Over the next few weeks, there will be a temporary shortage of barhi dates. But not to worry, they will soon return. We expect a delivery from Samar by the end of next weekend. In the meantime, we appreciate your patience.

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And lastly, for those who are not familiar with our web-based order system, now is the time to check it out. Here we regularly update the prices and supplies on hand, and present an array of distinctive products you can order through us from small, high-quality Israeli cottage industry manufacturers.

Through the system you can track your order and bill, so that if you have any questions regarding your last invoice or credit card bill, you can see a full detailed breakdown in our order system.

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This week I received an amusing email containing a satirical compilation of Passover laws.

It begins: “and I have heard that many Ashkenazim are changing their congregational affiliation as the fear of kitniyot falls unto them. They’re seeking a distant aunt from “south France” in order to be rewarded by a platter of rice on Passover… and I have heard there are those who demand that the Ashkenazi rabbis convene to cancel the laws of kitniyot. However, these rabbis are busy determining the kashrut of bleach on Pesach, as it may contain the remains of canola (as an allergen), thus leaving the rabbis no time to tend to trivialities. In any case, blessed are the stringent among us: “He

who abstains from eating gebrochts (matza shruyah), kitniyot, canola and stamped eggs shall be rewarded by dying of hunger on the seventh day of Pesach…”

In honor of the upcoming holiday of springtime, and in tribute to some of our yummy spring legumes that are now in bloom, the various peas and the fava bean, let’s dedicate some words to the general major confusion in the grains and legume world of chametz:

The Grain Family is a fundamental botanical family, the Poaceae family, or the Gramineae. It is one of the most important plant families to economics and human culture, essential for daily food consumption by humans (grains constitute almost every slice of bread) and animals (as fodder and pasture), as a main source of sugar (sugarcane and corn), as building material (bamboo in Asia) and of course, as natural ornaments (lawns and more). It is a relatively young family (55-65 million years old), characterized by grass with hollow stems (canes) usually in a node formation, which provides them with stability and the ability to bend without breaking. As they are fertilized by the wind, grains have no need for any colorful prissy flower to attract pollinators; their flowers are characteristically green-brown-yellow, as the color of the plant itself. The grains are usually organized in spikes.

The seeds of the Graminaes are usually monocotyledon (meaning they have one-kernel sperm. This is demonstrated by the fact that their seed does not split in half. Think about the corn or rice kernel, as compared to fava or pea seed.) Almost all of them are edible, but many varieties are so small that they’re not widely grown commercially. Another characteristic of grains, which is problematic in farming, is that most spread their seeds by bursting the spike and whirling their kernels to the wind, which becomes a problem for those who wish to reap or gather them. Over the years, man has selected and cultivated the non-explosive grains, attempting to develop larger seeds. This has resulted in today’s wheat, barley, corn and rice (compare them to the less-cultivated amaranth, for example, or even smaller species).

Within this important family, there is a “Jewish” sub-family, the one termed “the five species of grain.” These are the grains belonging to the “wheat tribe” (the Poaidae sub-family), characterized by their ability to leaven and swell. This is generated by gluten, a general term for some of the proteins typical in the various species of grain. Gluten is distinctive in its   insolubility. The origin of the word “gluten” is from gluttire, meaning ‘to swallow,’ because gluten changes its spatial structure when water is added and the dough is kneaded, so the dough receives mechanical strength and can hoard gas (created by yeast and enzymes). In the process of kneading, the gluten is developed, creating a three-dimensional structure of a net of thin elastic filaments that act to “trap” and “withhold” the gases and water vapors formed within the dough-hollow during the rising and subsequent baking.  (Further details on gluten can be found here)

This group has special laws in Judaism, which include, aside from Pesach issues, the blessing of Hamotsi before eating, reciting the Birkat HaMazon afterwards, and the mitzvah of “taking Challah.”

wheat barley rye Spelt

The four species of grain we use for daily consumption belonging to the gluten wheat tribe are (right to left): wheat, barley, rye and spelt. Four? But what is the fifth? What about the oats? Well, here is the big surprise: Oats do not contain gluten, nor do they leaven or swell. Professor Yehuda Felix has identified the oats of “the five species of grain” with a species of barley. He argues that it is impossible that oat is in oatmeal, since oatmeal does not contain gluten and was not known to our sages during the Talmud and Mishna. However, here we encounter a different obstacle, not botanical but much more complicated, called the “modification of Jewish custom,” which I will relate to soon.

Our second family, the legumes (Fabaceae), is a very dear one to farmers. I will not extol its virtues here, but that will surely come in a future newsletter. For now, let me simply note that there is no botanical similarity between legumes and the Graminaes. When we discuss legumes on Pesach, we don’t really mean the legume family, but rather the Pesach Ashkenazi “small legumes,” a varied and strange group composed of rice, millet and corn (Gramineae family) as well as beans, hummus, fenugreek, soy, lentils, fava beans, white beans, Tamarindus Indica (Fabaceae family), sunflower seeds, mustard, buckwheat, kummel and sesame (Asteraceae, Brassicaceae, Polygonaceae, Apiaceae, Pedaliaceae families). In short, the prohibition of kitniyot on Pesach includes an assortment of all kinds of botanical grains and seeds.

And why is this? Traditionally, the prohibition dates back to a European Jewish custom over 700 years old, but its reasons are not crystal clear. The gist of a Google search shows three main reasons, none of which derives from a direct Divine prohibition, but rather from doubts and misgivings:

* In Ashkenazi communities, kitniyot were used in cooking, and the rabbis did not trust the cooks’ ability to differentiate between rice and groats.

* As there are various kitniyot that can produce flour, the rabbis worried that some Jews would allow themselves the use of chametz flour as well. Although in ancient periods the Rabbis were not concerned because the custom was very clear, the exile of the Jews caused sages to fear that lack of knowledge could lead to mistakes.

* The physical resemblance between grains and kitniyot: In both cases, these are grains stored in silos for relatively long periods of time, causing some concern that the kosher kitniyot would mix with wheat and barley seeds, and inevitably lead to cooking chametz on Pesach. The wagons leading the kitniyot to market were also used to transport grains, which might result in blending.

* And if I may add, growth in the fields could to be related as well. Over the early Middle Ages, farmers in Europe transferred to a tri-annual crop rotation: one year they planted grains, the next legumes, and the third year the field was left fallow. This method must have created “voluntary” growth of some grains in the legume field, which might have entered the kitniyot sacks.

In light of these fears, the rabbis decided that Ashkenazim should be ‘better safe than sorry’ (I’m sure this sounds better in Yiddish), and prohibited legumes and other grains, seeds, kernels, granules and whatnot from the Pesach fare.

Hoping you are managing to find some moments of interlude, rejuvenation, spring gaiety and joy in these pre-holiday days we’re experiencing.

Shavua Tov!

Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team

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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S SPRING BOXES, BESIDES PEAS AND FAVA BEANS?

Monday: Lettuce, leeks/fresh garlic, peas, tomatoes, beets, carrots, fennel/daikon/garden peas, cucumbers, broccoli, coriander/parsley, cauliflower/ green cabbage/ purple cabbage

In the large box, in addition: Celery, fava beans, purple kale

Wednesday: beets, broccoli or cabbage, cucumbers, parsley, snow peas, lettuce, fava beans, celery, green garlic, carrots, tomatoes.

In the large box, in addition: daikon, kale, potatoes/cauliflower