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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Feeding Body and Soul with an Excellent Book (nope, not mine)!


8 Tevet, 5775

I'm still laughing at my error at dating yesterday's blogpost. 10 Tevet is a fast day and it must have been at the back of my mind as I wrote about overeating.

This week I'll be sharing body-building information about food, and how it heals us. Read my review of a new book, below. I highly recommend each and every page!

(Caveat: You may not reprint this review without my express permission and payment for my work)

The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel with their Mystical and Medicinal Properties
By Chana Bracha Siegelbaum
Menorah Books

True to the comment at the bottom of the book’s cover, The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel with their Mystical and Medicinal Properties is a presentation with “Torah Teachings and Depth.”

Author Rabanit Chana Bracha Siegelbaum is the revered teacher and director of B’erot Bat Ayin, Israel’s multi-dimensional school for women. Lessons there surpass the rote learning of contemporary seminaries. Hands-on experience and focused knowledge of Jewish topics with an appreciation for their metaphysical ramifications, rather than mere memorization, is standard fare in B’erot Bat Ayin. The Seven Fruits book exemplifies that approach: It is rich with multi-dimensional Torah-true lessons about the seven foods native to the Holy Land. The education extends from Chumash (the Five Books of Moses), Midrash and Talmud to contemporary science. Exciting artwork, photographs, and original recipes augment every chapter, leaving a lovely taste of Torah life on body and soul.

Chapters begin with colorful paintings depicting the fruit being studied. Commentary follows the cited Torah sources of that food item, such as this line in the Grapes chapter: They shall sit, every man under his vine and under his fig tree: and none shall make them afraid (Micah 4:4). Commentaries about the grape are followed by a list of the food’s spiritual attributes (Tiferet harmony/beauty), corresponding character trait (the ability to synthesize and integrate), holiday (e.g., Purim’s wine feast) and other items of related interest.

Relevant Perek Shira lessons regarding the species under discussion are then cited, followed by at-a-glance charts holding facts about the nutritional and healing properties of that food.

The author then presents upbeat medical, historical, spiritual and symbolic traditions associated with the species being addressed. The Pomegranate chapter is typical of those delights in this book. Focusing on folklore and practical matters regarding the hundreds of seeds in each ripened pomegranate,  Siegelbaum cites the differences between the good deeds of the righteous – pure – and those of the wicked – self-interest. It is complemented by a captivating moral lesson that focuses on the redemptive qualities of even half-hearted efforts.

A Taste of Kabbala is next in the presentation format. A riveting method for protecting oneself from illness appears in the Dates chapter. Citing HaShem’s promise that all of Am Yisrael will become and remain healthy once we learn to get along with each other forever, it is a thought-provoking moral lesson.

Recipes are next. Each chapter features simply prepared mixtures of foods packed with physical and metaphysical nourishment.

The author augments the recipes with halachic insights into appropriate blessings and even suggests appealing table presentations.

Fanciful monologues by the species under study e.g., Grandpa Grain, Madam Pearl, Mrs. Gefen, follow the recipes. The author explains that an archetype of each species addresses the reader in every chapter “… based on my creative understanding of each of the sefirot as they are embodied by the various species. I sat under each of the trees respectively, when writing these archetypes, to gain inspiration.”

Citations for Siegelbaum’s many footnotes appear last in each chapter, affording readers the opportunity to educate themselves more by studying those fonts of information.

The Conclusion to The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel with their Mystical and Medicinal Properties is profound. The author explains that “The Holy land is specifically praised for the seven holy fruits due to their spiritual genetics that inherently connect them to the Land of Israel… these seven species have the special ability to arouse the children of Israel’s inherent connection with their Holy Land…. Every time we recite the threefold after-blessing, we… rectify the sin of the spies who… were not grateful to HaShem for the gift…”

After you’ve read Siegelbaum’s Fruity People and Vegetative Donkeys in the Appendix you’ll better understand the devastation that Adam brought onto humanity by changing its diet and spiritual potential. The overall effect of having read the entire book is powerful and likely to provoke changes in how you think and behave, beginning with your food.

This 440-page hardcover is rich, educational and readily understandable, a marvelous presentation with an astonishing amount of information. The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel with their Mystical and Medicinal Properties by Chana Bracha Siegelbaum and Menorah Books belongs in every home and educational institution.

The bottom of the book’s cover indicates that The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel with their Mystical and Medicinal Properties is part of “The Wholesome Spirited Cookbook Nutrition and Health Series with Torah Teachings and Depth.”  Siegelbaum indicates that the next book in the series “… has Torah teachings about eating. It includes information about the quality of ingredients, and my challah recipes with Torah teachings about the mitzvah of baking challah.”

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Fill your body and soul with good nutrition.


Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod said...

This post has been included in Haveil Havalim: The Vayechi Vantage. Stop by, check it out, pass it along!

Yocheved Golani said...

Thank you, Tzivia!