« Of wood and testosterone | Main | The slap heard 'round the country »

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

This always happens to me during 'the 9 days'

For those not in the know, 'the 9 days' refers to the almost-week-and-a-half leading up to Tisha B'Av.  During this period many Jews observe a semblance of mourning rituals such as abstinence from swimming, attending live musical events, getting haircuts, shaving, drinking wine and ... eating meat.  For you Catholics out there, think of it as a concentrated form of 'Lent'.

I know, I know... it's really kind of silly to get worked up about this since it isn't even nine full days. 

The first day doesn't count since it's Rosh Hodesh (the celebration of the new month) when wine and meat are allowed.  And in the middle of the 9 days is Shabbat, when you can also enjoy these two important food groups.

Then, of course there is the last day - the 9th of Av (Tisha B'Av) - when you aren't supposed to eat anything!

So all told, 'the 9 days' is really more like 6 days of actual abstinence for us carnivores/winos.

So why have I been sitting in the dining-room late at night with my Weber Grill's new rotisserie unit on the table in front of me, dreaming of how I'm going to prepare dinner this Friday? 

                           [Photo: © Weber Inc.]

Could it have anything to do with the fact that when I came home last night, my lovely wife cheerfully announced that there was a cold bowl of lentils in the fridge if I was hungry. 



Posted by David Bogner on July 17, 2007 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference This always happens to me during 'the 9 days':


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Hey, I like lentils! Send 'em my way!

Posted by: antares | Jul 17, 2007 10:28:15 AM

so what's so celebratory about dead animals anyway?

celebrate death - eat a chicken?

Posted by: asher | Jul 17, 2007 12:45:10 PM

How do you do it? survive without eating meat.

Posted by: Rami | Jul 17, 2007 2:02:26 PM

you can commiserate with my husband -- we've got lentils in the fridge too.

Posted by: nikki | Jul 17, 2007 2:06:26 PM

When my wife asked me what I wanted for dinner just before the 9 Days, I said anything as long as it was MEAT! I should have been more specific. The freezer was full of stuff like hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, etc. For dinner we had chicken nuggets. Yeah, technically it's meat, but come on...

Just make sure you don't spend Shabbos with Vegans!!

Posted by: JDMDad | Jul 17, 2007 3:25:14 PM

[begin rhetoric question]

We all appreciate a good heap of lentils before bedtime, don't we?

[end rhetoric question]

Posted by: Account Deleted | Jul 17, 2007 3:51:06 PM

There should be a law against posting pictures of chickens on a rotiserrie during the nine days. Now I'm craving chicken. ;)

Posted by: orieyenta | Jul 17, 2007 4:09:36 PM

anteres... They'd be fine except I hate the way they keep falling through the grill on my BBQ. :-)

asher... I had no idea you were such a PETA person. :-)

Rami... By day three I'm seriously anemic and by Tisha B'Av I'm barely able to stand.

nikki... What is it, do you wives have some sort of a list you circulate amongst yourselves with all the stuff your husbands will least like to see during the 9 days? :-)

JDMDad... Been there, done that.

a. ... Esau giving up his birthright for a bowl of lentils is one of the main reasons the Bible is so unapproachable for most people. :-)

orieyenta... Sorry. 'I suffer, you suffer' is the implied user agreement over here.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 17, 2007 4:15:36 PM

You can't eat meat on Rosh Chodesh Av. It is included as part of the Nine days prohibition.

Posted by: Michael Raskas | Jul 17, 2007 4:40:08 PM

Michael Raskas... Um... I'm sure you didn't mean to say "You can't eat meat on Rosh Chodesh Av. It is included as part of the Nine days prohibition." See, that makes it sound like I've transgressed a universal and immutable law of Judaism.

I assume what you meant to say was "Very interesting that you eat meat on Rosh Hodesh Av since most Ashkenazim refrain from doing so. Do you follow the Sephardi custom... or is there another tradition with which I'm not familiar?"

Since you asked, my collection of minhagim is a little like the furniture in a newlywed's apartment; mismatched but comfortable. It's not because I picked and chose, but rather because I am an ashkenazi Jew who become observant while living with a Sephardi roommate. Not only that, but it wasn't until years later that I noticed that there were different ways of doing things.

I asked my Rav whether I should revert to the ashkenazi tradition since my family came from Europe, but he said that since I didn't inherit a minhag from my father, that I should continue doing things as I have for so many years. Ironically, I was already fairly established in my observance before I learned about the whole kitniot argument and for that I have to keep the ashkenazi minhag.

Glad you asked.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 17, 2007 5:11:55 PM

how about grilling some fish? not the same? have you tried the lentils with tuna and mayo? I never did, but who knows, you may like it ;)

David S.

Posted by: David S | Jul 17, 2007 6:14:13 PM

Thanks for the explanation. Frankly, I wasn't all that concerned whether or not you eat meat on rosh chodesh av. I just didn't think that you should make a blanket statement that "the first day doesn't count since it's Rosh Hodesh when wine and meat are allowed" when that's incorrect according to prevalent Jewish tradition.

Posted by: Michael Raskas | Jul 17, 2007 6:15:01 PM

Good answer!

As I'm not yet observant, this is all news to me...but rest assured I'm reading up!

Thanks for the blog Treppenwitz, it really helps me to read others experiences, as I'm both becoming more observant and considering Aliyah within the next several years...keep it up!

Posted by: Jesse | Jul 17, 2007 6:18:20 PM

when that's incorrect according to prevalent Jewish tradition.

Prevalent Jewish tradition? That sounds like it should be its own post.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 17, 2007 6:35:53 PM

I always pictured Jacob's bowl of pottage as a really good bowl of cholent. Kind of makes us understand Esau's decision to sell his birthright for it. Almost. Anyway, hang in there - gam zeh yaavor. ;-)

Posted by: psachya | Jul 17, 2007 7:18:25 PM

David S... As luck would have it, I am grilling a huge slab of salmon as we speak. :-)

Michael Raskas... While I could certainly have been clearer about there being more than one way to observe Rosh Hodesh, I can't help thinking you missed the point of my response to you. Your pronouncement that the tradition with which you are familiar is the "prevalent' one is both incorrect and potentially offensive. I would ask that you reread the entire post and your comments and reflect on why the Temple was destroyed.

Jesse... Glad to have you here. Just make sure to check whatever you read here with your local rabbi as I am prone to over generalization. :-)

Jack... it almost was. :-)

Psachya... Red chulent?

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 17, 2007 7:48:53 PM

Lentils, yum! Try this: Cook a cup of lentils. Drain. Saute' some red onion with some mustard seed; add the lentils. Mix in some baby spinach and a splash of cider vinegar. I have been known to sprinkle some soy (Soy! I said soy! :-)bacon bits or cubed gouda on top.

Posted by: Kayla | Jul 17, 2007 8:12:39 PM

David, I agree that you were entitled to take umbrage at Michael's criticism, and I think we can all agree that your edited version of what he said would have been far more civil and prudent.

The problem is that most blogs attract doctrinaires; anyone that doesn't exactly match you is an enemy, and certainly there are anti-religion blogs where a whiff of tradition is flamed, and there are religious blogs where mentioning evolution will tar you forever.

Your blog is a welcome refuge for those of us that are just tired of the 'narcissistic shrieks' (Thomas Wolf's phrase) of religious confrontation. I sometimes think that there is something in the air in Israel that makes people weird, and that American Olim are the only reason that the Israelis haven't all completely gone over the deep end. I don't know how long the Olim can stay normal, though. It appears that they're ok for two generations. What happens after that is yet to be seen.

Posted by: Barzilai | Jul 17, 2007 8:34:24 PM

Jesse... Glad to have you here. Just make sure to check whatever you read here with your local rabbi as I am prone to over generalization. :-)

Thanks...and just as soon as I find a local Rabbi (mine retired) I'll be sure to run stuff by him!

Meanwhile, I just love the stories -

Posted by: Jesse | Jul 17, 2007 9:01:10 PM

...since I didn't inherit a minhag from my father, that I should continue doing things as I have for so many years.

This was the same advice I got from my Rabbi during Pesach. Since my family is neither Ashkenazi or Sephardic (actually my Chinese family eats PORK) - I could not follow their minhag. PHD is Ashkenazi and since we have chosen to be a family together, we follow his family's minhag. When unsure I think your advice of checking with a local Rabbi is always the best.

BTW - I'm still craving chicken. Thanks :)

Posted by: orieyenta | Jul 17, 2007 10:34:40 PM

the things we do to torture ourselves! I've been spending the start of the 9 days by writing down all of my favorite recipes...among them, 35 different ways to cook a chicken.

Posted by: rebecca | Jul 18, 2007 1:17:03 AM

Hi David AKA Trep,

I always appear to be one on the last commenters... too slow, another time zone, busy job, etc.

And I missed out on the Kosher argument...

But I do know that the exact observances you, well... observe are between you and Hashem. As long as you're trying in good faith, I've always figured that Hashem appreciated the effort... whether Spehardi, Ashkenazi, or even that one secular Jew who skips ham during the holidays as a start towards Yiddishkeit...

So, whatever it is you eat, I hope that you, Zahava, and the rest of your lovely family enjoy IT!

Trying to send some positive vibes!


Posted by: Maksim-Smelchak | Jul 18, 2007 1:33:08 AM

I found this quote:

The Laws of the Nine Days

All Jews are accustomed to refrain from consuming meat and wine during the first nine days of Av. On the first of the month itself (Rosh Chodesh), it is permissible to eat meat and drink wine, but after this it is forbidden (see Kaf HaChaim, note 124, 125). Ashkenazi Jews are accustomed to refrain from meat and wine even on the first of the month (Mishnah Berurah ad loc. note 58)

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Jul 18, 2007 11:13:04 AM

Dave Balashon's link doesn't sound right... there are definitely Sephardic communities that follow the original practice of only observing "the week in which Tish‘a B’Av falls", and not the Nine Days.

Posted by: Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) | Jul 18, 2007 2:20:03 PM

Huh. Wish I'd had a Sephardi roommate when I was becoming observant.

I gotcher quinoa right'chere, Bub. A nice big steaming bowl of it. You can have it sweet or savory, as you choose.

(ducking and running)

Posted by: Rahel | Jul 18, 2007 3:36:46 PM

Steg - This quote was from the former Sefardi Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, who regularly writes his opinions for both Ashkenazim and Sefardim, noting the differences between the practices of the two groups.

I too, like Michael Raskas, wasn't aware that any group made an exception for Rosh Chodesh. I figured (like Steg) that Sefardim only started the Sunday before Tisha B'Av, and Ashkenazim the entire 9 days (including Rosh Chodesh.)

But it turns out that Trep actually follows a more strict approach of the Sefardim - tough break there, huh?

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Jul 18, 2007 7:25:11 PM

Kayla... You lost me at "Cook a cup of lentils..." :-)

Barzilai... I have no problem with someone correcting me (although the joy that some people take in correcting me is a tad grating). What bothered me is that Mr. Raskas made a blanket statement at least as bad, if not worse, than mine. He either ignored or was unaware of any tradition other than his own. When I pointed out that there was more than one way to do things he not only dismissed me but dismissed the Sephardic tradition as if it were some tiny minority opinion.

Jesse... Don't thank me... I'm a giver. :-)

orieyenta ... Not too long to wait now. :-)

rebecca... I've been eyeing the sheep along my commute home and thinking about rack of lamb. :-)

Maksim-Smelchak... Thanks. BTW, it isn't always the case, but I try to schedule my posts to go up around lunch time in Israel.

Dave (Balashon)... Nice to see I wasn't blowing smoke. :-)

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) ... I wouldn't count on it. If you've read any of Dave's site, he is usually pretty thorough about research and documentation.

Rahel... My wife is still pissed at me that I didn't choose the German (or Dutch) tradition about waiting between meat and milk. :-)

Dave (Balashon)... 'Tada'! :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 19, 2007 2:24:37 PM

The Husband hates fish....unfortunately (because I love fish)...salads (some with tuna), quiche and other egg variations and French toast pull us through the 9 Days...oddly enough, I'm Ashkenazi but the Husband's mother is Sephardi (his father's not Jewish)so when we were becoming observant, our rabbi told us to follow his MOTHER'S traditions...so we too have sort of mismatched but comfortable minhagim....but also lots of questions....

Posted by: aliyah06 | Jul 20, 2007 5:41:41 PM

If you are the wino you say you are, could you please one day post about Israeli wines and enlighten us foreigners about which ones to choose on various occasions?
It is not always easy to choose from shelves when you don't know the stuff.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Jul 22, 2007 11:47:49 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.