Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Nuts about Nuts

I am going to go back to the subject that has exercised me of late, i.e Shtreimel, but I shall give it a chol hamoed break. Today I would like to post about nuts.

As a practicing Jew there are many things I do not eat such as caviar. As a culturally tuned-in Jew there are even more things that I do not eat; for example peas or beans on Pesach. Or almonds on the Jewish New Year. The Shulchan Aruch tells us that the accepted custom is not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashonah. Why not you may ask? Two reasons are given - a logical one and a er, well less logical one. The logical one is that nuts make people cough and since we spend most of our New Year in Shul in quiet prayer the coughing would disturb the concentration of those trying to daven (pray). The less logical one is that nuts in Hebrew have the same numeric aggregate as the Hebrew for sin.

I can accept all this. What I find terribly difficult to accept is that so many people I know refuse to eat nuts not only on Rosh Hashonah but all the way till the end of Succos (three and a half weeks later). Nor do they limit themselves to refraining from nuts per se, it seems that anything that contains nuts is also off the menu. So a nut cake is out. And so is ice cream sprinkled with nuts etc. Now to me this extrapolation of a New Year custom is just batty. Its plain nuts. I mean for heavens sake so you don't eat nuts for a month but nuts aint pork and I think you can allow yourself to eat something that contains nuts!!!

Some years ago I was spending Succos at my parents-in-law. A member of the family was in rehabilitation after suffering a serious mental illness. I saw her put all of her available energy into baking a relatively complicated recipe. It came out well and I could see that she got a feeling of satisfaction; something she needed in bucket fulls. But nobody ate it. It had nuts in. They stayed in the fridge till after YomTov. (I say nobody but that is not entirely true. I did eat some. How a custom could be so overblown to result in such plainly callous behavior was beyond me.) And don't think this sort of thing is all that unique. This year my wife was a lucky recipient of a nut cake her friend had inadvertently baked. Her husband would not eat so she gave it to us.

So dear reader how careful are you about keeping away from nuts during this period? How nuts are you about nuts? How many people are you prepared to upset in your quest to keep some obscure custom? Are you prepared to refuse a dish prepared by your wife because it might possibly have a nutty flavor or do you think sholam bayis might be a little more important?


Blogger Needsabetterjob said...

Certain things become more of a superstition. The problem w/ this type of post is that it puts people down, but you don't know, where it is a superstition, or where it is for them, something spiritual. What happens in reality is that some people are going through great difficulties, and they look for a Yeshua. What is superstition and what isn't, is difficult to quantify.
AFAIAC, Anything which doesn't hurt anyone s/b OK.

2:19 PM  
Blogger the shaigetz said...

dont you go throwing a spanner in the works. Let the frummers keep their nuts in a vice over yomtov.

Beautifully written as always.

5:59 AM  
Blogger misnaged said...

Complete bollocks as usual . I really wouldn't want anything to do with your parents in law.

6:32 AM  

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