Tag Archives: Judaism

Yeshiva Study Petition

 

 

 

A petition on Change.org regarding yeshiva study:

 

(http://chng.it/7chpRk6R86)

 

 

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Banning Jewish Practice

 

Some people may find this a difficult or disturbing subject matter involving animals; please be advised.

 

Banning Jewish Practice (Randyjw; April 2, 2017)

 

Kosher slaughter of animals, or “sh’chita”, has been practiced for several thousand years, based on commands and interpretations of the laws governing Jewish practice. These rulings were provided by G-d, and are part and parcel of the Jewish faith, which we are commanded to keep (although the liberal Reform denomination of Judaism does not keep the ritualistic aspects of certain of these commands — but, this is a small number of the totality of all Jews).

 

The many laws must be followed by the expert Jewish butcher, or “shochet”, to follow the exacting guidelines so that the resultant cut of meat from a “fit” species will still be “fit” for consumption (“kosher”) when slaughtered. The practices are based on the laws of the Torah, which lays out the determining factors whether the creature, whether animal, fowl, fish or creeping thing is allowed among the “clean” ones determined by G-d to be fit for consumption.

 

While some people might presume that the “cleanliness” of an animal is based on its diet or hygiene, such that the prohibition against shellfish might be presumed in place due to the predominance of a mostly bottom-feeding diet from such species, or that the pig might be banned due to the presumptive eating of slop and having a predilection to mud bathing, neither of these are the actual reasons why they are disallowed in the Kashrut Jewish diet.

 

Shellfish are not allowed because they do not contain the characteristics of having both fins and scales. Pigs are excluded from the default category because, while they do have parted hooves, they aren’t considered as one that chews the cud — and both traits must be met within this category.

 

Throughout the millenia, people who have held anti-Semitic views have often tried to prevent the Jews from practicing the rituals of our religion. It was as true during the Babylonian exile, when Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, in keeping with their Jewish traditions, convinced their captors to feed them only vegetables and water, rather than the King’s rich meats and wines. Furthermore, Daniel set a clinical research study by making comment that it should be conducted as a test by appearances at the end of ten days: Daniel and his men, versus the meat-eaters. The end result was that Daniel and his men appeared healthier in all respects (plus, they did not have to disobey their religious strictures).

 

Flash forward to the time of the First Temple destruction by the Romans (given as about 600 years later from the Babylonian exile), when they set up a pagan shrine to their idol and bade the Jews to worship it, and forbade them their own practices. The Jews would not comply, and this resulted in the eventual sacking of Jerusalem, as well as the razing of the Temple.

 

In Europe, where they experienced the Dark Ages, as if the dumbing down of society had led to a paucity of knowledge, the rise of various denominations within branches of the Christian faith, plus a belief in a wealth of superstitious rites, led to a fear and resentment of the “otherness” of the Jew, and caused many anti-Semitic edicts and actions perpetrated against the Jewish people. This included the ban of certain practices, such as Kosher slaughter and circumcision.

 

Upon occasion, these same discriminatory rulings against the Jewish people and their religious practice finds implementation amongst various of the world’s countries, in Europe, and elsewhere. These became the rule of the land in olden days — but, they have a chance of being struck down for their obvious discrimination in more modern times.

 

According to a recent article in The Jewish Press, the following countries have a ban on the practice of Kosher slaughter: Denmark, Switzerland and New Zealand. Coming up for a parliamentary vote in the Flemish province of Belgium is a law to compel only the electric stunning of animals before slaughter, which is a practice contrary to Kosher law. Further countries, including Poland, Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden were also on the list banning Kashrut slaughter, back in 2011, but some have since seen that it represents Jewish discrimination and have since remanded their ruling.

 

Jewish law compels the slaughter of animals to be done with the least amount of pain inflicted upon the animal as possible. For this reason, a very sharp blade is used. Other specific practices are also completed, such as the draining of all blood from the animal, as it is forbidden by Jewish law to consume the blood, for the blood is life.

 

Throughout the Torah, there are many stipulations placed on humans to be kind in their dominion over the animals: to yoke them equally; to keep them unmuzzled while they work, in order for them to be able to eat; to feed them before your own meal is eaten, etc. These all form part of the basis for how the laws relate to each other and within the categories relating to the treatment of animals.

 

Having followed these laws for several thousand years already, and seeing the practice of pre-stunning the animals in modern times, which often is a tragic and painful failure, it has been the position from our religious standpoint that the Jewish method is the most humane way to slaughter an animal for food, if one is going to slaughter an animal, at all.

 

Animal rights activists, without fully always knowing what Kosher practice actually entails, disagree. Placing themselves in the Leftist camp, which tends to be funded by people such as George Soros or Arab-supportive groups of the like which side often with terrorist sympathies, their real agenda is anti-Semitic, couched in a veneer of pretence for the animals — even though stunning the animals has been shown to often result in horrid pain for the animals.

 

I think it’s just another way to boycott the Jews. I just thought you might like to be aware of how these countries stand, in case you’re planning to write any letters to their governments or have any travel or trade purchasing considerations in mind…

 

Israel, David. “Belgian Province to Ban Kosher Slaughter”. The Jewish Press.com; March 31, 2017:

(http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/belgian-province-to-ban-kosher-slaughter/2017/03/31/)

 

Antebi, David. “What is the Shchita (Kosher Slaughter)?”. Israeli Students Combating Antisemitism (isca-org.com); October 4, 2015:

(http://isca-org.com/what-is-the-shchita-kosher-slaughter/)

 

Updates / Additional Reading:

Berkowitz, Adam Eliyahu. “Marine Le Pen Announces She Would Ban Kosher Slaughter in France”. Breaking Israel News.com; April 26, 2017:

https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/87177/marine-le-pens-muslim-slaughter-ban-targets-kosher-meat/

 

JNS.org, via Breaking Israel News.com. “France’s Le Pen Will Force Jews to Renounce Israeli Citizenship if Elected”; February 12, 2017:

https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/83475/far-right-marine-le-pen-elected-jews-must-renounce-israeli-citizenship/

 

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Happy Chanukah!

Original Post Date: December 5, 2015

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One of the highest precepts of the Jewish religion is to “teach children in the way they should go”. Education has been a guiding principle of our people for thousands of years. In that spirit, and in the spirit of spreading a little joy and light at Chanukah, I share with you some selections from YouTube about Israel — and of Chanukah around the world, in song, for you to share in the culture of the Jewish people — the ancient, the old, the new, the ones imprinted on our souls throughout our dispersion. Hope you’ll learn, share, and enjoy with us:

STYLE:

Israel: (https://youtu.be/6Q4XL4oRIRE)

Hebrew: (https://youtu.be/E9HCOX1f3H4)

Russian: (https://youtu.be/OFodbrlqbJI)

Moroccan: (https://youtu.be/rkIc1adgD_M)

Yiddish: (https://youtu.be/KxH0xF84h_0)

Children’s: (https://youtu.be/KgFyCPs2XmE)

Iraqi: (https://youtu.be/1kbxkwv0JUU)

Sephardic: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6ByJHOhVUQ&list=RDM6ByJHOhVUQ)

Breslov: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcCHkSWzmS0&list=RDGcCHkSWzmS0)

(In English):

New/Original: (https://youtu.be/HQHFwgnnGBE)

Translated: (https://youtu.be/G_bAqvYedIM)

Medley/Dance: (https://youtu.be/fqEQy6l1kzc)

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Tiles of the Temple Found

 

As a child and throughout the all-important developmental years of my youth, I was fortunate to be raised by hard-working parents who struggled to afford me the privileges of providing cultural opportunities to enrich my growth.

 

I attended day camp and summer camp, and had occasional treats of museum or aquarium visits, the Nutcracker suite ballet (back when it was the real, visiting Russian Moscow ballet, to whom nobody has ever held a candle to, to this day), and ice shows. There were piano-, ice-skating and tennis lessons (skiing I had to pay for myself).

 

These are important things, which I think that many of today’s families just don’t bother undertaking with their children. I spent many after-school days at my friend’s house, and she was also a fixture at ours, accompanying my mother and I to an occasional outing. My favorites usually involved trips to the museum. I particularly took a shine to the polished gemstones for purchase for between $1.00-to-$3.00 in the museum’s gift shop, as did my friend, and I had a small collection of a few good rocks: micah, pyrite, and others.

 

I was also really enraptured of the Egyptian artifact collections, as well as the heiroglyphic and ancient writing systems of the ancient Middle Eastern cultures, spending some time in youthful pursuit, which is to say, not so seriously, unfortunately, in trying to learn some of these systems. Odd how it was that when my friend and I concocted our own secret alphabet code, we happened to have used some of the same symbols formulated by the ancients of old. I believe there must be some type of universal symbol usage, or perhaps more narrowly Middle Eastern, that perpetuates in ancient memories of the mind. I bet that if today’s coded kids’ alphabets were studied, they’d find the same symbols still in effect (add this to my Crazy Theory subset: #2, if I remember to do so).

 

I never extrapolated my love in my youth for the Egyptian archaeological finds early enough to realize that it could be a field of study for me, applied to Israeli/Jewish culture. Most study of archaeology in its beginnings were conducted mostly under the auspices of societies/Foundations/schools studying Egyptian, Assyrian and Hittite culture. Jews were excluded from among such groups due to anti-Semitism, and via the fact that they weren’t allowed entrance in such a capacity to those other Middle Eastern countries, anyways. Israel was still being referred to by the old designation of “Palestine”, in any case, as well.

 

In really recent times, though, I was briefly able to realize this great honor in studying Israeli archaeology via the Israeli Ministry of Tourism acceptance of me into its program of licensure to be a tour guide. In a participating academic program I enrolled in (I was unable to complete the full course of certification, due to personal circumstances I let get in the way), my course studies took me on field trips accessible only to archaeologists behind locked gates and other areas way beyond that which even the scope of a tourist trip could reveal. It was incredible.

 

One day I was watching t.v. with my mother about Israel and its sites, and there was one of my classmates, described as an expert, leading a televised tour of a particular ancient site, and I excitedly pointed him out to my mother.

 

Israel’s top archaeologists were my classroom and field guide teachers. One spoke of his Yemeni wife and related tales of his visit with the Princess of Bhutan, as he led us up mountains and past old water drainage systems cut into the hillsides. Another, whom I really related to and admired immensely, is one of Israel’s leading archaeologists. Dr. Gabriel Barkay is the archaeologist whose excavations uncovered the oldest found Biblical text, incised in proto-Hebraic script onto two silver scrolls: that of the Aharonic Blessing (one of my favorites) of Numbers 6:24-26 and the other of Deuteronomy 7:9, dating to approximately the 7th Century BCE, according to information I found at the Israel Tour Guide / Israel Tours blogsite of Shmuel Browns (read his article, below).

 

Prior to the beginning of my educational training, I participated briefly in a project known as the Temple Mount Sifting Project, where dirt which had been removed during illegal Arab construction and excavation on the Temple Mount was being sifted and combed through for any archaeological artifacts it might yield. While I did not find anything….

 

Stone tiles matching the new Roman foot measurement of 29.6 cm used by Herod such as at his other palaces, like Masada, Jericho, and Herodion, of flooring installed in the inlaid opus sectile, or “cut work” style, unknown in Israel prior to Herod’s time, have since been found of imported marble and stone from Rome, Asia Minor, Tunisia and Egypt.

 

King Herod was responsible for many great building projects throughout Israel under vasselage of the Roman Empire. The tiles dating to this time confirm the Jewish Temple having been built then (37-4 BCE, according to the information found at Breaking Israel News), and there. Other contemporaneous sources during Temple period times comes from the historian Flavius Josephus, in his First Century book, “The Jewish Wars”, who writes of the courtyard of the Jewish Temple being paved with multicolored stone, as well as Talmudic literature speaking of colors of green, blue and white. More than 100 of the 600 tiles found date to this period.

 

The timing couldn’t have been a better counterpoint to 9-11 this year (as well as BDS, EU labeling, UNESCO declaration of the Temple Mount being solely holy to our sworn enemies, etc…).

 

G-d sure does have a great sense of humor, doesn’t He?

 

See the archaeological evidence at Breaking Israel News (scroll through entire article to see the different geometrical patterns posited in reconstruction and refurbishment, about halfway down the page) at: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/75233/first-time-ever-undeniable-evidence-jewish-temple-discovered-photos/

 

Berkowitz, Adam Eliyahu. “For First Time Ever, Archaeological Evidence Proves Jewish Temple Stood On Temple Mount [PHOTOS]”. Breaking Israel News.com; September 6, 2016: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/75233/first-time-ever-undeniable-evidence-jewish-temple-discovered-photos/

 

Browns, Shmuel. “Ketef Hinnom Silver Amulets”. Israel Tour Guide / Israel Tours; March 16, 2011: https://israel-tourguide.info/2011/0316/ketef-hinnom-silver-amulet/

 

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Shalom Aleichem: Peace Be Unto You

Shalom Aleichem:

Peace Be Unto You

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Responsibility In Religion

Jewish religion takes ownership of our congregation in acknowledging both the good with the bad. We strive to improve ourselves through education, good deeds, and hope to abide by a code of good conduct relative to our understanding of the paths set before us by G-d and the ways by it that we are supposed to relate to the world. We may not always meet each and every goal along this path. It may, indeed, be hypocritical to hold someone to task who has failed in that task, but we accept them as ours, and accept that they have failed. They will fail at some tasks set before them. This is life, and realistic expectations maintain that such will happen.

 

However, it is good to have a sense of the ideal to reach for, even when we can’t reach everything that we would hope to. Holding out high hopes gives someone a goal to strive for. We don’t like bad behavior, either. But, alas — Jewish people also commit bad deeds. And yes, it’s sad, but we have to acknowledge that one of ours did that particular thing of which he stands accused. It doesn’t mean we like it, or condone it, but we don’t pretend it was done by the “man on the moon”, or the “boogeyman”, or any number of irrelevant others toward which blame could be transferred. Only in the most blatant acts of physically trying to separate oneself from Judaism itself would a decree of ex-communication be issued, where we would then “disown” the person from the religious community. It is very rare for this to happen, as it is always held out for the Jew to return to the religion. Once issued, it is as if the person is dead to the community, and does not exist.

 

We are to abide by 613 mitzvot, both positive and negative — the “Do’s” and the “Don’ts” — in Jewish law. If you think that’s alot, one need only look at the laws inherent in a Democratic society, such as exist in the United States, to find that the Jewish laws are quantifiably a cakewalk, in comparison! How many laws actually exist in the U.S.? And how many more so might there be in a much older Western society, such as that of Great Britain, say? Do we really follow each and every law on the books, like a perfect citizen, each and every one of us?

 

Well, not to be pessimistic, but the answer, as borne out by the over-crowded prison system, is resoundedly negative, in that regard. Our jail cells are top-full with people who have been placed there with a verdict of guilt for various infractions, ranging from slight to great. A recent article (unread) even mentions a man serving a life sentence for the non-return of a library item!

 

Old laws still on the books are routinely contravened in today’s society, and would be seen as discriminatory through the progressive, prismatic lenses by which we view issues, especially social ones, today.

 

I could never concile, at least in the younger formulation of my self, the viewpoint of a religious perspective which could disavow the behaviors associated with an individual as separate from the religion to which they identify. The behaviors belong to the individual, and the individual belongs to a religion. The tendency for certain religions to disavow the individual, on and off like a spigot, when they commit bad acts, and only confirm “membership” to one in good standing, is absolutely disingenuous.

 

I hope that those of the Christian faith won’t be too upset with my feelings about a few aspects of their religion that I feel needs closer consideration, if one wants to be honest about the whole thing. I can understand the adage to “Love the sinner, but not the sin”. But it seems that every time a self-professed Christian commits a heinous act, it is suddenly said of them that they are not a “true Christian”, and that a “true Christian” would never do such things.

 

The hypocrisy I find in this statement is that the Christian dogma believes that mankind is imperfect and imbued with Original Sin. They believe that only one way exists to G-d via the corporeal intermediary, or triumvirate conception of the embodiment of this ideal.

 

If the person accepts Christianity, but falls prey to the temptations of the world, as is his wont, due to Original Sin (according to Christianity), then how can he suddenly be said to be not a “true Christian”? Isn’t that just what Christianity reports itself to be? Don’t they claim ALL people to be sinners? To use a concept from the religion, the sinner comes to the congregation and suddenly it’s as if they were never known to them?

 

I’m sorry, but if you think about it really hard, the hypocrisy in the statement is there. They HAVE sin. They are imperfect beings. That is the major tenet of the religion. They can’t suddenly be cast-off when they did something wrong, so as not to cast aspersion on the religion, itself.

 

You need to own up to it. There are people in your religion that do bad things. They do it as a member of the religion, and they do it sometimes in the name of the religion (by following edicts found in that particular religion). I find it annoying to this day that people of Christian faith always resort to this disownership each and every time somebody sins (usually rather badly).

 

In the Jewish religion, we teach that man is supposed to act responsibly. There may be 613 mitzvot, and that must seem like a lot of rules to follow. We are not supposed to consider them a burden. They are to be a joy to us, a source of guidance, for ways to enhance our lives and bring us into conformance to a better way of living. It is said that there are two types of sin: that against man,  and that against G-d. The worse one is that against man. We are to seek forgiveness from those we have wronged, to repent for our actions, and to try to make amends.

 

In Judaism, we are to teach children in the way that they should go, so that they will not depart from it. In later classes as we mature, we have hopefully, by then, received ethics and morality classes to help us think through further issues. Pirkei Avot, The Ethics of Our Fathers, is a book of Jewish consideration of the subject.

 

In Judaism, we have debated the question posed by Cain to G-d, when he replied in response to G-d’s query concerning Cain’s knowledge regarding where his brother, Abel, was (who he had just killed): “Am I my brother’s keeper?” And the answer to that, is “Yes; I am my brother’s keeper” (I have failed you, my brother, Stephen). We have a responsibility to look after the welfare and actions of our brothers. This means guiding them, correcting them, caring for them, and more. It is our failure if we fail them.

 

We have standards to follow, and many times we fail to meet them. Christianity likes to make a main point out of this. They really like to ridicule the rules which we feel G-d set out before us to follow. We don’t presume to be superior because of this, and in fact it is noted in the Bible that we were considered “stiff-necked” people; but it is our religion and we believe the rules were never remanded.

 

Popular Christianity has changed through the Centuries on this matter: first teaching that only some of the rules applied; later teaching that the rules were replaced with the coming of J.C. Actually, even within the Christian Bible, it is stated by the man, J.C., himself, that he did not come to replace/do away with the (Jewish) Laws (of G-d). Yet, Christianity has done so, itself. As errors in Christian teaching become apparent throughout the Centuries, new dogma then begins to replace the old, changing in conformance to then-accepted precepts (until new errors are uncovered).

 

The religion of Islam is now taking a page from Christian teaching, using the same methodology which has worked so successfully, for so long, for the Christians. They now state that the people who are following the injunctions found in the teachings of their religion — whether by Imams, or by previous rulings of Hadith, or via new fatwas issued by religious councils — and who commit atrocities condoned in action just as verily by such, have actually “hijacked” their alleged-to-be “peaceful” religion.

 

The Hudabiyya agreement was a long-ago arrangement agreed to by the Muslims which allowed them time to build-up their resources to defeat at a later date those who had held the position of strength over them, at the time when the agreement had gone into effect. In today’s modern terms, we would call these “peace treaties” or “truces”, or the always-ongoing “peace process”. It has been determined that this sets the precedent whereby it is okay to lie to the enemy and make an agreement to any terms of peace, which can, later, conveniently be broken once they have gained sufficient strength. (Spoiler alert — too late!)

 

After writing yesterday that more Muslims need to stand against the violent acts perpetrated by those who come from their midst, I am happy to read a compilation of two instances translated by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) from Arabic into English today whereby Arabs of stature in certain communities have condemned these atrocities committed by Muslims, and fault their own culture and religion for producing such individuals. They give great credibility and consideration for their Muslim indoctrination into putting blame where it belongs: quite squarely on themselves.

 

Kudos for speaking up and out on behalf of truth. Now, however, you are two small voices in the wilderness, and the billion-plus others still beat to a different drummer. Have we the time to wait for their moderation conversion?

 

It’s been a very easy riposte to disqualify the sinner from the religion, then. As noted, though… It just so happens that it ISN’T “truly Christian” to do so.

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Related: The article above deals with the collective responsibility, as I see it, of religion, as a whole. A recent article posted at the United with Israel website shares a thought about our responsibilities as individuals, told through the interpretation of religious teachings gleaned through a story in the Bible. If you would like to read this, I’ve connected the link to the site, here:

http://www.unitedwithisrael.org/living-torah-take-responsibility-and-dont-shift-the-blame/

 

 

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Randy’s Recipes: LENT-IL Soup

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Randy’s Recipes: LENT-IL Soup

 

Giving up meat for Lent? Try this light, yet hearty soup. Even the word root is interesting: “Lent”, and the abbreviation for Israel, “IL”. We lend something with the premise of it being given back. Hopefully, Love will not be like that — it’s not generally supposed to be (but this soup is comforting in that event, as well).

 

It would be a misnomer to classify this recipe as my own. It’s not. But, “Randy’s Recipes” has a certain alliteration about it that I’ve decided to keep and employ as a general category. The previous recipes have been mine (the pita one belonged to my Mother), although, like I said, the bottle of Zahatar seasoning from Pereg brand does list cream cheese, as well as pita, in its Chef’s Recommendations on where to utilize its product.

 

The red pottage which became a symbolic token of the birthright exchange from Esau to Jacob in no way implies that the reverse occurred in the provision of this soup and the knowledge of its preparation from my Palestinian ex-husband to myself. While the recipe might very well have remained the same all these years, there are a couple of ways to achieve it. The recipe here uses whole ingredients. I have also cooked it with spectacular results using various seasonings/spices, when I didn’t have an onion to use, and it was just as good. I forget how I did it though, so I’ll just give you the basic recipe. I hope I never vowed not to divulge this, because I would feel badly were that the case. But the marriage, I believe, was perhaps a sham, and so many of the vows which should have been an inherent part of it were discovered to be missing — you drove me from my land with your threats of bodily harm and imprisonment — slavery, even, to masters other than even yourself. I left immediately, without my things. Never mind.

 

Enjoy this, “on the House”.

 


 

Randy’s Recipes: LENT-IL Soup (Randyjw; February 18, 2016)

 

2 bags red lentils (Goya, or other brand)

1 large white, Vidalia, or yellow onion: (quartered to-eighthed or whole, at your preference)

About 8 cloves peeled garlic

Lemon, fresh

Optional: Lime Syrup Slurry

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Remove blemished, discolored lentils and any foreign matter from amongst the lentils, and rinse several times to remove the foamy residue accumulating at the start.

 

Cover the lentils several inches above their top level with water in a pot on the stove top. Turn the heat to a medium-high level to drive out the rest of the foamy matter and begin cooking the lentils. You want to leave it at a low enough  temperature in order not to quick-cook the lentil, but enough to skim the foam. Skim off this foam continually, at the first — if you don’t, it will taste dirty. When the lentils seem to have given up most of its foam, add the onion to the pot, and continue cooking. Use care to check that the onion and/or lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn; for this purpose, it may be best to leave the onion whole, and slice it, if need be, at the end. Turn down the heat to a soft simmer and continue cooking. Towards the last twenty minutes or so, add the garlic to the pot (enough time to cook it until soft, but not throughout the whole cook time).

 

Ladle the soup into its serving bowl. Cut a lemon and squeeze some of its juice onto the soup.

 

For optional lime syrup slurry, prepare 1/2- to 1- day in advance. Wash 4 ripe, sweet limes very well. Zest (if inedible) or cut rind (if edible) into small bits. Place into bowl or container. Sprinkle copiously with sugar and stir. Repeat several times until a thick slurry paste is developed. Cover and place into refrigerator and let infuse overnight. Dip spoon into bowl for slurry to seep onto it. Add a tablespoon of slurry or so per serving, mixed in at time of presentation, for a slightly different, uplifting version. Enjoy immensely!

 

This variation, below, adds israeli couscous, spices, and mushrooms to the soup, for a heartier version:

6.9 Yums Up

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