Last week, shortly before Shabbat, we did another parasha project. The last aliyah of Tetzaveh describes the construction of the incense alter but the first aliyah of Ki Tisa describes the incense itself so I will share it for this week.
To give everyone an experience of "Reyach Nichoach", a pleasing aroma, I planned to make stewed apples in cinnamon and cloves for Shabbat dessert. It is one of the best cooking smells! But I realized that although I love the smell and taste of these two spices, my girls might not.
I set the girls free in my extensive spice cupboard, telling them to each choose their favorite and I would cook the apples with their selections. They loved opening each container and smelling, sometimes marveling and sometimes complaining at the scent. Gabi eventually chose cinnamon, saying that is how apples should smell. Initially Cohava chose star anise, loving the shape and smell. But then she found a more intriguing aroma; Ras El Hanout. This Moroccan blend of spices contains some lovely spices like ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It also contains some flavors Cohava does not like, such as kashmiri chili and cayenne pepper. We used it.
The smell was wonderful! But the flavor... Cohava was insistent that it was Gabi's fault and that the cinnamon had made the apples spicy.
The Torah's description of the incense used for sacrifice also prohibits one from trying to mimic the scent. I want to make it clear that this was not the objective of the project. Hashem, don't cut me off from my people for this. Because sacrifices are such a difficult topic to appreciate today, I wanted my girls to see how a pleasant smell can be enjoyed by all. I like their use of the senses of smell and taste. But this was not at effort at Ketoret!
[There are many people who ask me how I have time for these projects and blog. I don't. But I try. While the girls were busy in the spice cupboard and I was cleaning the kitchen, Ruti sneaked out of the kitchen with a big box of breakfast cereal. When we were finished, we discovered that Ruti had upturned the entire box, all over the dining room floor! With 30 minutes to candle lighting, Cohava learned how to use the vacuum cleaner. We make it work.]
The parasha continues with the designation of Betzalel and Oholiab as the overseeing craftsman for the construction of the mishkan. The girls enjoyed telling me who are the best artists in their class. Then Shabbat and then...
"Oh no!" Gabi yelled out, as I was telling them the story.
"What is wrong?" I asked.
"Moshe isn't back yet and the people are going to do something awful!" she exclaimed. She curled up in a ball of fear and anticipation.
"They are going to make the egel idol!" Cohava announced.
""How do you know? Did Abba already tell you?" I asked.
"No. I remember from last year. It is the worstest thing bnei yisrael ever does..." Cohava explained.
And now I must think of a project that does not glorify the egel hazahav, doesn't scare Gabi, and celebrates Hashem's mercy.