| Parshah |

Just Desserts

The kedushah of kibbud av Yitzchak tasted in Eisav’s food

“And make for me tasty foods as I like, and bring them to me, and I will eat, in order that my soul will bless you before I die.” (Bereishis 27:4)

At first glance, Yitzchak’s words seem scarcely credible. Was Yitzchak the type of person to enjoy the delights of Olam Hazeh? Even in our days, a talmid chacham wouldn’t lower himself to covet good food, exchanging the sweetness of Torah for the sweetness of food. How could Yitzchak? (Rav Shimon Schwab, Maayan Beis Hashoeivah)

A few weeks before Succos, my daughter embarked on a marathon dessert morning. By the end of the day, the freezer was full of desserts for Yom Tov, including eight types of pies. We both felt great knowing that even if no mains or sides materialized, at least we’d eat like kings for dessert.

Mentioning our success to a friend, she asked, “Where did you find pie shells? I haven’t seen any that are yoshon this year.”

Gulp. Living in Eretz Yisrael, we strive to follow the more stringent opinion not to eat any newly harvested wheat until after Pesach, as is the local minhag. Generally speaking, Israeli products are fine in this regard, but these shells were imported.

I quickly called the hechsher listed on the label. They had no yoshon information. Help. I called another kashrus organization, which told me to try the organization I’d already called. The yoshon hotline that had been helpful in the past also had no information.

I resigned myself to throwing away eight pies and starting again. My daughter’s attitude was amazing. “When do we have a chance to be moser nefesh for kashrus?”

The main sensation a tzaddik tastes from food is the holiness it contains. As the pasuk says, “And Yitzchak loved Eisav because [his] game was in his mouth” (Bereishis 25:28). The food that Eisav served Yitzchak had the taste of kedushah, because Eisav excelled in the mitzvah of honoring his father.

The Midrash says Eisav would wear royal clothes to serve his father, even though Yitzchak couldn’t see what he was wearing.

Rabi Shimon ben Gamliel says, “All my life I served my father, but my service didn’t amount to 1/100th of Eisav’s service of his father.”

Therefore, Yitzchak felt Eisav worthy of his blessings because of his “good food” — the kedushah of kibbud av Yitzchak tasted in his food. 

But my husband was not ready to throw in the towel, or the pies. He researched the company, went up the chain of command until he contacted the laboratory manager, one Alice O’Leary, responsible for production. Explaining politely that this was a religious inquiry, he asked if she could research when the wheat was harvested for this batch of pie shells.

But it was getting closer to Yom Tov and no response from Alice.

Finally, Erev Yom Tov, she called and triumphantly announced, “The wheat was harvested in 2019!”

According to halachah the wheat had to be from before Pesach. “Um, thank you, but do you know in which month it was harvested?”

This was too much for poor O’Leary. She directed us to her supervisor, Tony Diamante. From Ireland to Italy, as the pie flies.

Yet the same pasuk (25:28) says that Rivkah loved Yaakov. She knew Eisav was a trickster and not worthy of the brachos. Like a chazir that shows his split hooves as a sign of kashrus, Eisav’s actions were all wicked, aside from this one mitzvah of kibbud av.

Therefore, Rivkah said to Yaakov (8:9): “Listen to my voice… and I will make tasty foods for your father, as he likes.” Rivkah too stressed the concept of good food, because she wanted to prove that when Yaakov listened to her, he’d also be doing the mitzvah of kibbud eim, and his food too would taste of kedushah.

Later, when Eisav came back, Yitzchak realized his error in assuming the taste of kedushah from Eisav’s kibbud av meant he was worthy of the brachos. He trembled violently and said about Yaakov, “He, too, shall be blessed.”

Yom Tov began with a packed freezer, half of which was food we couldn’t eat. But we managed with sorbets and cakes and laughed about our pie in the sky.

On Chol Hamoed, Mr. Diamante called. All was good. The wheat had been harvested at the end of 2018. With one day of Yom Tov to go, we now had eight pies for desserts.

That Simchas Torah we enjoyed our just desserts. Ain’t nothin’ as delicious as yoshon pie.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 669)

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