Haggadah – Symbol of Nisan

Yes, Virginia -- there is a Passover Rabbit. Click to See More!


OMG-D! It’s almost time for Passover! With Nisan upon us, preparations for our annual journey out of Mitzrayim begin in earnest.  Whether you take a traditional or modern approach, believe in G!d(dess) or not — Passover is a holiday pretty much all Jews can connect to.  There are so many things we could explore as the symbol of Nisan, but here at PeelaPom.com we’re going to explore the Haggadah as the ritual object of Nisan.  Over at PunkTorah, look for my article on Chametz as a the symbol of Nisan.

“More than any other single ceremonial object or document, the Haggadah exemplifies the continuous evolution of the Jewish symbolic tradition.” ~ The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols by Ellen Frankel and Betsy Patkin Teutsch (pg 66)

Continue reading “Haggadah – Symbol of Nisan”

Hamantaschen: Symbol of Adar

Making Hamantshen -- Yummy and Spiritual!

Adar 5772 begins at sundown February 23rd, 2012 and ends at sundown March 23rd, 2012.

Yes, it’s Adar and I decided to go exactly where  you expected me to this month — Purim and Hamantaschen.  But as opposed to doing a history of the fabled, and delicious, Purim cookie — I’m going to explore some of the mythic and ritual opportunities these humble cookies offer us.

If you are unfamiliar with the history of hamantaschen, this post from Seforim Blog is a great place to start (thanks to Velveteen Rabbi for the link).   For some the triangle shaped cookies represent Haman’s (the villian of Purim) hat, pockets or ears.  There are also dozens of different recipes for the delicious cookies, and debates over whether jam or poppy-seed filling is the best. There are yeast dough recipes, regular old cookie dough recipes, and even this cream cheese recipes that seems to merge rugelach and hamantaschen.

But enough about the actual cookie.  Let’s talk ritual experience.

Continue reading “Hamantaschen: Symbol of Adar”

Passover Menu 5771

The theme for my 5771 seder was “Oasis at the Elim.”  I had written about this concept a couple of years back, but had gone in a different direction that year.  This year, I finally decided to do a menu with the “oasis” theme.

I hope this inspires your Pesach menu planning!



Charoset Sampler

Apple & Walnut, Ashkenazi-style

Date & Fig Sephardic-style

Fig & Port Wine


Avocado Soup with Herbs, Slivered Radishes, and Pistachios

Main Course

Chicken Tagine with Apricots & Spiced Pine Nuts

Oven Roasted Asparagus with Olives & Almonds

Herbed Quinoa


Oranges with Pomegranate Molasses



Coffee, Tea, Wine, Sparkling Water

Adar II – The Lesson of Naphtali

Photo by Don DeBold. Used by Creative Commons Attribution Copyright.
Photo by Don DeBold. Used by Creative Commons Attribution Copyright.

Adar II  (אֲדָר א) begins at sundown on March 6th, 2011 and ends sundown on April 4th, 2011

~Excerpt from Adar II Guide – Subscribe for Free and Receive the Complete Guide Each Month ~

(Cross Posted to PunkTorah.org)

Naphtali is the second son of Jacob and Bilah, a handmaiden of Rachel. His name, as relayed in Genesis 30:8 means, “ And Rachel said: ‘With mighty wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed.’ And she called his name Naphtali.”  When I read this, I immediately went to check and see if this was the same word used in Genesis 32:25 to describe Jacob wrestling with the angel, and it is not.  That word seems to be translated “struggled” (יֵּאָבֵק) where as the root of Naphtali’s name (נַפְתּוּלֵי) seems to translate more truly as wrestling, or “twists.”  I find the translation of “twists” to be fascinating.  It seems lighter and less ominous than struggling.

Naphtali is traditionally symbolized by a leaping dear.  This is from Jacob’s blessing in Genesis 49:21, “Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.”  According to some commentaries, this refers to how quickly the fruit in the tribal district of Naphtali ripened, which gave cause for blessings.  In Moses’ blessing, Deuteronomy 33:23, Naphtali is describe as, “O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the sea and the south.”  If nothing else we can see from these blessings that Naphtali was favored, and I think good with words.

Let us imagine that the message of Naphtali is that of the poet or minstrel.  If this were not a leap year, the Netivah, face of Shekhinah, associated with the month would be the Fool.  I can easily see Naphtali as the poet-jester,  entertaining us by leaping, dancing and reciting poetry and songs.  So what does that mean in a leap year?  What happens to Naphtali when the Weaver (אורגת) is our Netivah of the month?  In this case, Naphtali uses his poetic gifts to weave a beautiful tapestry to help us find all the meaning hidden away in the Book of Esther.

The lesson of Naphtali is to use all the powers of dance and verse to uncover the mysteries of the Book of Esther, to weave our world into a better place.  If G!d(dess) created the world with words, then maybe we affect Tikkun Olam, repairing of the world, or at least Tikkun haNefesh, repairing of the soul, through the power of art, verse, music, and dance.

More insight into Adar