Thursday, January 31, 2013

Euphonic Friday: The Reputation Salvaging Edition

If you’re a blogger, you have good reason to be very grateful for the amenities of modern life.

After all, as little as, say, oh, 100 years ago, if one’s real life endeavors were getting in the way of one’s blogging time and preventing one from completing the countless half-written posts floating around one’s brain and/or drafts folder, there wasn’t much one could do about it.

I mean, back in those days, one would be accused of shamelessly neglecting one’s blog, and one would be helpless in the face of those, um, slanderous assaults on one’s blogging honor.

But today, thanks to the wondrous miracle of embedded videos, there’s a simple yet elegant solution to this unfortunate problem.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1:

First, select a familiar pasuk from Sefer Tehilim – ideally one that’s recited every morning (both on Shabbat and on weekdays) as part of the Shacharit prayer service.

For example:

“.וַאֲנִי בְּחַסְדְּךָ בָטַחְתִּי יָגֵל לִבִּי בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ אָשִׁירָה לַה’ כִּי גָמַל עָלָי”
“And I trusted in Your kindness, my heart will rejoice in Your salvation, I will sing to Hashem, for He bestowed upon me.”
(Tehilim 13:6)

Step 2:

Second, search for a video (or even two) of a beautiful song based on that pasuk.

For example:

Rav Baruch Chait sings “VaAni B’Chasdecha.
Mordechai Ben David covers the same song.

Step 3:

Finally, slap on a cumbersome introduction and conclusion (which seem oh-so-witty when you write them at 1:00 AM but which you [correctly] suspect will fall flat by the light of day), and publish the resultant post.

And, voila!

Your blogging reputation is, once again, intact…

Open-mouthed smile

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Euphonic Friday: Erev Tu B’Shvat Edition

In an ideal world, Friday Erev Tu B’Shvat would be a perfect time to post a rendition of the classic HaShkediyah Porachat. (A [particularly awkward] English translation is available here.)

But unfortunately, here in TRLEOOB*, our shkediyah (=almond tree) has always been a bit of a, ahem, late bloomer.

In fact, as you can see in the following picture, it doesn’t yet have a single flower:

IMG_0943As usual, feel free to click on the picture for a better view.

And so, it will be necessary to look elsewhere for today’s edition of “Euphonic Friday”.

As you may recall, it’s become somewhat of a tradition here on Our Shiputzim to post Shimi Tavori’s Mizrachi favorite Moshe this time of year, when the weekly Torah readings revolve around the Exodus from Egypt.

But this year, I think we’ll take it up a notch and post not one but - count ‘em! – two versions of this song:

First, the original version, complete with backup dancers (dressed relatively modestly – at least by today’s standards) shimmying (no pun intended…) incongruously to a song about Moshe Rabbeinu:

And second, a more recent, less grainy but also far less amusing :-)version (which also includes “Kinor David”):

!שבת שלום וט”ו בשבט שמח


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The top 10 signs you’re voting in Israel

The Our Shiputzim Editorial Board proudly presents:

The Top 10 Signs It’s Election Day in Israel

10) A glorious, festive air hangs over the entire country.

9) Your son, the IDF soldier, voted on his base.

8) When the election official at your local polling station checked your family’s names on the official list, she noticed that one eligible voter was missing (see #9 above) and said with a smile, “You left someone at home!”

7) You made sure to read Jameel’s excellent elections guide before heading out to vote.

6) Perfect strangers greet you with a joyous “chag samei’ach!” as they pass you in the street.

5) You wonder again, for the umpteenth time, why more Israelis don’t seem to want to have Sundays as a weekly day-off?

4) Even the weather cooperates, as the winter storm of two weeks ago gives way to unseasonably warm temperatures.

3) You’re intensely aware that being eligible to vote in the State of Israel means that you’re blessed with a front row seat on Jewish history.

2) You notice that unlike in the States - where people often refer to voting as “fulfilling one’s civic duty” - here in Israel, people always talk about voting as an incredible privilege or right (i.e. zchut ha’hatzba’ah, for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you), which isn’t to be taken lightly or for granted.

1) Although you’ve been living in Israel for many years now BA”H, you still get a thrill over dropping your ballot into the voting box.

May today’s elections herald besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) for Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, and Torat Yisrael.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Vote early, vote often

Here in Israel, we’re all busy gearing up for Election Day (i.e. Yom HaBechirot, for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you).

Which isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, the period leading up to elections is always very tense and stressful.

I mean, not only are our phones ringing off the hook as various and sundry would-be MKs call us “personally” to beg for our votes, but our inboxes and Facebook newsfeeds are overflowing with election-related posts – both serious ones as well as  countless versions of the following, um, “prayer”:

רבונו של עולם! תן לי "כח להשפיע" על "עם שלם", להתפלל ב"נץ", לעשות את "העבודה" ב"מרץ", לפעול כדי ש"התנועה" תהיה תמיד "קדימה", ללמוד את ה"שס" ולזכור שעיקר ה"יהדות" היא "התורה". יהי רצון שיהיה בעמנו "איחוד לאומי" ו"ליכוד" של כל חלקי העם וש"ביתנו" יהיה "בית יהודי" אחד גדול, כי "יש עתיד" ו"עוצמה לישראל"!

And then there’s the small matter of deciding which party deserves our vote.

Indeed, many voters (including myself, although YZG and the Shiputzim family’s first-time voters have all made up their minds) continue to waver between ideological and strategic voting and probably won’t make a final decision until arriving at their local polling stations tomorrow IY”H.

But IMHO, the biggest challenge is trying to figure out how we’re going to cram nearly four years’ worth of Sunday activities into a single day…

Open-mouthed smile

May tomorrow’s elections bring besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) for Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, and Torat Yisrael.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Assorted blogbits

In lieu of a full-length post, here are several items of interest or note:

1) The following fascinating video tells the tragic story of the “Lamed-Heh” – the 35 brave Palmach fighters who set out to provide desperately-needed ammunition and supplies to Gush Etzion’s beleaguered defenders 65 years ago this week:

2) The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Ester for including my apple cinnamon cupcake post.

3) Tis the season… for pomelos. If the list of search terms leading to this blog over the past few weeks is any indication, people around the world have apparently developed a sudden interest in learning how to eat a pomelo.

4) As was the case four years ago, YZG and I once again find ourselves deliberating between strategic and ideological voting. How about you?

5) Mazal tov to guest blogger Malke and her family on the birth of a grandson! May his parents be privileged to raise him to Torah, to chupah, and to maasim tovim!

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fine Arts Friday: Parshat VaEra Edition

Israelis were divided into two groups today: those who were privileged to have snow in their own backyards and those who were forced to brave the icy roads in order to get their winter wonderland fix.

Although security considerations (ah, the travails of semi-anonymous blogging… ;-)) prevent me from telling you if we belong to the first or the second group, the halachot of snow day blogging apparently require me to share a picture of the Shiputzim kids’ snowy masterpiece:


And speaking of the Shiputzim kids and their handiwork…

About a month or two ago, ACSK (=a certain Shiputzim kid) had to do a project for school about one of the Ten Plagues and chose Makat Dam (the Plague of Blood).

Seeing as we will IY”H be reading Parshat VaEra this coming Shabbat, I figured that it would be appropriate to post the final result:

IMG_8416As always, feel free to click on the picture for a much better view.

In addition, here are a few close-ups of some of the details:

IMG_8409An Egyptian is upset, because his cup of water has turned to blood.

IMG_8412The well on the Goshen side has clear, sweet water.

IMG_8403An Egyptian has to buy water from a Jewish man.

IMG_8407A bathtub on the Egyptian side is filled with blood.

Special thanks to ACSK’s older siblings for all their help.

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Rains of blessing

As the amazing storm of the century continues unabated and the Kinneret’s water level continues to rise, our Rav has instructed that one recite the thanksgiving blessing for rain.

He added that both men and women should recite the blessing, which can be recited either in public (i.e. as part of a congregation in shul) or in private.

Here is the Hebrew text followed by an English translation*:

ברכת הודאה על הגשמים

מוֹדִים אֲנַחְנוּ לָךְ ה' אֱלֹקינוּ וֵאלֹקי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ עַל כּל טִפָּה וטִפָּה שֶׁהוֹרַדְתָּ לָּנוּ.

ואִלּוּ פִינוּ מָלֵא שִׁירָה כַּיָּם, וּלְשׁוֹנֵנוּ רִנָּה כַּהֲמוֹן גַּלָּיו, ושִׂפְתוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁבַח כּמֶרְחֲבֵי רָקִיעַ, ועֵינֵינוּ מאִירוֹת כַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ וכַיָּרֵחַ, ויָדֵינוּ פרוּשׂוֹת כּנִשְׁרֵי שָׁמָיִם, ורַגְלֵינוּ קַלּוֹת כָּאַיָּלוֹת, אֵין אֲנַחְנוּ מַסְפִּיקִים להוֹדוֹת לךָ, ה' אֱלֹקינוּ וֵאלֹקי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, וּלְבָרֵךְ אֶת שִׁמְךָ עַל אַחַת מֵאֶלֶף אַלְפֵי אֲלָפִים, ורֹב רִבֵּי רבָבוֹת פּעָמִים הַטּוֹבוֹת, נִסִּים ונִפְלָאוֹת שֶׁעָשִׂיתָ עִמָּנוּ ועִם אֲבוֹתֵינוּ.

מִלּפָנִים מִמִּצְרַיִם גּאַלְתָּנוּ ה' אֱלֹקינוּ, מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים פּדִיתָנוּ. בּרָעָב זַנְתָּנוּ וּבְשָׂבָע כִּלְכַּלְתָּנוּ. מֵחֶרֶב הִצַּלְתָּנוּ, מִדֶּבֶר מִלַּטְתָּנוּ, וּמֵחְלָיִם רָעִים ורַבִּים דִּלִּיתָנוּ.

עַד הֵנָּה עֲזָרוּנוּ רַחֲמֶיךָ ולֹא עֲזָבוּנוּ חֲסָדֶיךָ.

עַל כֵּן אֵבָרִים שֶׁפִּלַּגְתָּ בָּנוּ, ורוּחַ וּנְשָׁמָה שֶׁנָּפַחְתָּ בּאַפֵּנוּ, ולָשׁוֹן אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתָּ בּפִינוּ, הֵן הֵם יוֹדוּ וִיבָרְכוּ וִישַׁבּחוּ וִיפָאֲרוּ אֶת שִׁמְךָ מַלְכֵּנוּ תָּמִיד. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֵ-ל רֹב הַהוֹדָאוֹת.

The Thanksgiving Blessing for Rain

We gives thanks to You, Hashem, our God and the God of our fathers, for each and every drop which You sent down for us.

And were our mouths as full of song as the sea, and our tongues as full of joy as the multitude of its waves, and our lips as full of praise as the expanse of the heavens, and our eyes as radiant as the sun and the moon, and our arms as outspread as the eagles of the sky, and our legs as swift as hinds, we still could not thank You enough, Hashem, our God and the God of our fathers, or bless Your Name for even one of the thousands of thousands and the myriads of myriad favors, miracles, and wonders which You performed for us and for our fathers.

From Egypt, You redeemed us, Hashem, our God; from the house of slaves, You liberated us. In famine, You nourished us, and in plenty, You sustained us. From the sword, You saved us; from the plague, You rescued us; and from malignant and numerous diseases, You spared us.

Until this point, Your mercies have helped us, and Your kindnesses have not forsaken us.

Therefore, the organs which You fixed in us, and the spirit and the soul which You blew into our nostrils, and the tongue which You placed in our mouth – they will thank and bless and praise and exalt Your Name, our King, forever. Blessed are You, Hashem, God of bountiful thanksgivings.


* The Hebrew-to-English translator who provided the above translation has asked me to announce that she’s available for translation work. For more information, please contact me at OurShiputzim at gmail dot com, and I’ll gladly forward all serious inquiries to her.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Prophetic blogging

So, here’s the question: Do you believe that anyone live-blogged the Exodus from Egypt?

On one hand, the historical evidence suggests that no one did. After all, the Biblical era forerunner of modern blog editing software wasn’t really worth the papyrus it was written on, and even today, few – if any - spellcheckers can handle hieroglyphics.

But on the other hand, it was the Exodus!

We’re talking the Burning Bush! The Ten Plagues! The Splitting of the Sea!

Is it really possible that not ONE person who witnessed those earth-shattering events thought to him- or herself, “Wow! This would make an AWESOME post! My readers would LOVE to hear all about it! I am SO blogging this!

Well, as it turns out (and as YZG pointed out after shul this past Shabbat Parshat Shmot), Sephardim and Ashkenazim obviously disagree on this topic.

The former apparently feel that blogging played no part in the Exodus, but the latter clearly hold otherwise.

I say this, because while Sephardic practice is to read the haftarah of Parshat Shmot from Sefer Yirmiyahu (Chapters 1-2), Ashkenazim traditionally read from Sefer Yeshayahu (Chapters 27-29).

And if one takes a quick look at Yeshaya 28:11 – i.e. right in the middle of the haftarah - one sees the following:

“כִּי בְּלַעֲגֵי שָׂפָה וּבְלָשׁוֹן אַחֶרֶת יְדַבֵּר אֶל הָעָם הַזֶּה.”

Admittedly, certain literal-minded translators may claim that this verse means:

”For with distorted speech and in another tongue, he will speak to this nation.”

But we here at Our Shiputzim believe that a much better translation is:

”For [on] blogs of (‘bloggei’) language and in another tongue, he will speak to this nation.”

Winking smile

Your thoughts?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Freshly Baked Goods Friday: Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes Edition

Deliberately – and recklessly - altering a recipe beyond recognition to the point that it requires a new name is a fairly common occurrence around these parts.

For instance, longtime readers may recall that the same thing happened with our no-name bars and our kosher for Pesach choco-nut bars.

This time, however, the baker in question had every intention of sticking to the original name.

After all, in a perfect world, there would be no reason to make any changes whatsoever to something called “baked apple cider donuts”.

But, alas, the baker was stymied by the insurmountable limitations of the kitchen here in TRLEOOB*.

Lacking a donut pan, apple cider, or even allspice (all of which, I’m told, are key elements in the baked apple cider donut production process), she was forced to admit that a rebranding would once again be in order.

Yet, fortunately, this story has a happy ending.

Because thanks to the baker’s celebrated resourcefulness, a different but equally delicious dessert was the final result:


Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes

Loosely adapted from here.


  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup apple sauce
  • 2 eggs


  • 2 TBSP apple juice
  • 1¼ cups powdered sugar


  • ¼ sugar
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon


Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add apple juice, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla extract, and beat well until smooth and creamy.

Place paper cupcake liners into cupcake pan. Pour the batter into the cups, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until done. Let cool slightly.

While baking, prepare the glaze and the topping.

Dip each cupcake into the glaze and then into the topping.

Yield: 16 cupcakes



*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog