In Shul this Shabbat we read my all-time favorite Torah Portion – Balak. I love the fact that there is a talking donkey in this portion, and good triumphs over evil. Just to recap, Balak King of Moav, hires the non-Jewish prophet Bilam to curse the Jews. If the Jews are cursed then Balak just might be able to defeat them. Balak figures that Bilam must have the inside track with G-d because he’s a prophet, and who better to curse G-d’s chosen people that someone who has a direct line? Well things don’t work out quite like Balak planned. On his way to curse the Jewish People the donkey that Bilam is riding on suddenly stops in its tracks. No matter how many times Bilam hits it, the donkey won’t move. What Bilam doesn’t know, is that he can’t see the Angel blocking the path – but the donkey can see it! After being hit three times by Bilam, the Donkey actually turns around and speaks to Bilam!! This wasn’t just any everyday donkey, but a very special one. There were seven “Wonders of the World” that were created on the last day of Creation…one of those “wonders” was Bilam’s Donkey. This special donkey was formed with the express purpose of speaking to Bilam and warning him away from his goal. Of course, in the end Bilam is unable to curse the Jews, and instead ends up giving them a beautiful blessing – foiling Balak’s plan. I love that ending!!
As you all know by now, I have been spending a lot of time going to minyan. In the Shemoneh Esreh prayer, which we say at least once during every service, the last paragraph is the “Elokai Nitzor” tefilah (prayer). Here we ask G-d to guard us from speaking badly, to keep us from reacting to those that curse us, and to nullify the evil wishes of those that would want bad things to happen to us – “Elokai nitzor lishoni merah…v’limkallai nafshi tidom…vichol hachoshvim alai raah, mehara hafer atzatam…”
As cheesy as it may seem, the story of Bilam and his talking donkey, and the “Elokai Nitzor”, speak to me as a “recipe” for how to lead our lives (not too preachy, huh?). The bottom line is that we must have faith and continue to pray to G-d to help us against those that would wish us harm. With G-d’s help a curse can even become a blessing. The truth is, sometimes we are so immersed in our situations that we can’t see the obvious – even a donkey can see what we can’t or refuse to see!!
|Happy Birthday America!!|
Given that (whew!), I’m going to blessyou with a fun summertime recipe for Hamburger Cupcakes with Twice Baked Potato Frosting. These are incredibly entertaining, conversation-starters, really yummy and similar to the Grilled Hamburger Cake, they are frosted with mashed potatoes. Whipped eggs lighten the recipe, with onions and grated carrots adding extra flavor. Unlike Balak’s half-baked plan for defeating the Israelites, these awesome “cupcakes” are twice baked – making them super delicious!! I recommend warning your family and guests though – these are so pretty, even a donkey might not be able to tell the difference between these Hamburger Cupcakes with Twice Baked Potato Frosting and the ones you serve for dessert!!
Don’t forget to check out my latest summertime recipes on aish.com!!
- 2 pounds lean ground beef, room temperature
- 3 large eggs, room temperature, separated
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic crushed, or one frozen garlic cube defrosted
- 1/4 cup carrots, finely shredded
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- pinch of salt
- foil lined cupcake cups
- mashed potatoes
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Place foil lined cupcake cups on a baking sheet.
- Set aside.
- Place the ground beef in a large bowl.
- Break up any large pieces of meat.
- In a large mixing bowl, whip the egg yolks until tripled in volume and pale yellow – around 3 minutes.
- Fold the yolks into the ground beef, mixing until just combined.
- Fold in the onions, carrots and pepper.
- Set the meat mixture aside.
- In a clean dry mixing bowl, with clean dry beaters, whip the whites with the salt until stiff but not dry.
- Carefully fold into the meat mixture, being careful not to stir too vigorously.
- When the mixture is completely combined, spoon into the prepared muffin cups.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Place the potatoes into a pastry bag (if using) and pipe the potatoes onto the baked meat muffins.
- If not using a pastry bag, spoon the potatoes onto the tops of the baked meat muffins.
- Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes.
- Turn the oven onto medium broil, and broil the muffins for 5 minutes until the tops are browned.
- Best served warm, but these are good cold too!
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