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Personal Expectations

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

I had a plan. I was planning to bake last night. I have a lot of hamantaschen to bake, am a wee bit behind schedule, and am feeling the pressure with Purim just days from now. But my class on Pirkei Avot ran a little over (we were having a great discussion) and by the time I got back to Beit Frummie, I was plumb tuckered out. Baking deferred.

As I climbed into bed, all I kept thinking was:

Now I’ll never be qualified to be an Eishet Chayil.

You see, the candle of an Eshet Chayil burns on into the night. Me? I couldn’t manage much of anything after a day that included meetings, a funeral and meal of condolence, and teaching.


Proverbs 31:10-31 has gotten a bad rap since the fabrente feminists decided that there was something negative about praising a woman for abilities and characteristics that have been highly valued by our people. [I highly recommend a contemporary look at this passage by Hillel’s Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Learning and the Jewish Women’s Archive.] So much value was placed on them that it has become custom for husbands to sing — yes, sing!— this Proverbial selection to their wives at ths Shabbos table each week. Who wouldn’t enjoy being serenaded??

Eishet Chayil

A woman of valor, who can find? She is more precious than fine pearls.
Her husband trust in her, and so he lacks for nothing;
She does him good, never harm, all the days of her life.
Shee looks for wool and flax, and sets her hand to them with a will.
She is like a merchant fleet, bringing her food from afar.
She rises while it is still night, and provide provisions for her household, the daily fare of her maids.
She sets her mind on an estate and acquires it;
She plants a vineyard by her own labours.
She girds herself with strength, and performs her tasks with vigour.
She perceives that her labour is rewarding; her candle burns on into the night.
She sets her hand to the disatt; her fingers work the spindle.
She reaches out to those in need, and extends her hands to the poor.
She is not worried for her household because of the snow, for her whole household is dressed in crimson.
She makes covers for herself;Her clothing is linen and purple.
Her husband is prominent in the gates, as he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes cloth and sells it, and offers a girdle to the merchant.
She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she faces the future cheerfully.
She speaks with wisdom; the law of kindness is on her lips.
She oversees the activities of her household
and never eats the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her; her husband sings her praises.
Many daughters have done valiantly, but you exceed them all.
Grace is deceptive, beauty is illusory;
it is for her awe in the Eternal that a woman is to be praised.
Extol her for the fruit of her hand,and let her works praise her in the gates.

OK — so there are a few other things that might disqualify me.

But I really do use this as my model. This is who I want to become. I want to be a woman whose virtues are praiseworthy. Whose children praise her. And forget that she ever decried:

Look…I followed the recipe. I don’t know why the dough is so sticky. Mommy just isn’t very good at this kind of stuff.

So for all the other reluctant balebustas out there, here is Frume Sarah’s annotated version of the

Working Mom’s Hamentashen:

Prep Time Cook Time Ready Time
10 min 15 min 30 min

Don’t know how they came up with the timing. From start to finish, including kitchen clean-up, plan about 90 minutes.

1 (18.25 ounce) package moist yellow cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons water
1 cup Solo cake and pastry filling (any flavour), chocolate spread, Nutella, etc.


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
  2. I used a cooking spray to grease the pans. I grease them all at the same time so that I don’t have to stop what I’m doing after I fill a tray.

  3. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and flour. Stir in the eggs and water to form a stiff dough.
  4. “Stiff dough” is not an accurate description. At least, I couldn’t quite get it to what I would describe as “stiff dough.” It is more reminiscent of moist sand. Do NOT add additional water; the dough will become rather unruly.

  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 3 inch round circles and place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  6. 1/8 inch thickness? 3 inch round circles? 2 inches apart? Feh! Roll it until it feels right. Use a flour-rimmed drinking glass to cut the circles. And don’t put them too close together. And be generous with the flour for the rolling pin. Helps combat the sticky tendency of this dough. Using a drinking glass yields about 5 dozen cookies.

  7. Place a teaspoon of filling into the center of each cookie and pinch the sides to form three corners. Moisten with water if necessary.
  8. I’m not from the pinchers. I’m from the folders. I like to fold the dough to make little triangular pockets. Some use water; others recommend an egg wash. I use neither.

  9. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
  10. Normally, I like my cookies on the “well-done” side. The success of a the hamantaschen baker is to find that find balance between undercooked and overcooked. Every oven is different. Mine are perfect in 6 1/2 minutes.

For extra points, allow your kids to eat them for breakfast in the days leading up to Purim. Makes for warm, fuzzy feelings.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Thursday, 25 February 2010 7:07 am

    But, see, you already are an Eishet Chayil. You do burn the candle late into the night . . . your day job brings in income that supports your family in exactly the way the Proverbs talk about. DO NOT DOWNGRADE what you do because it does not always involve aprons and “domestic” things. YOu, me, and everyone else are the modern version of an Eishet Chayil. Here is one of my favorite posts about this by one of my all-time favorite bloggers.

  2. Thursday, 25 February 2010 8:28 am

    This is a fantastic post, which I can tell because there are about six things I want to say to it. However, I don’t have a lot of time, so I will just say three things.

    First, you should make the annotated recipe it’s very own post. That way, people can link to something that they find clever even if they don’t care about you as a blogger.

    Second, you aren’t from the folders. You might fold now, but you are *from* the pinchers. I know in Yiddish it makes sense, but I had to say it.

    Third, you actually do burn the candle late into the night. Allow me to digress: Do you remember the song from Singing in the Rain called “Good Morning”? There is a line that says, “We’ve talked the whole the night through/Good morning, good morning, to you.” Do you know when in the movie they sang that song? One a.m.

  3. Thursday, 25 February 2010 11:18 am

    Okay, I’m not even going to start with you on the personal expectations thing. Dude, you’re a full-timer. I’m with the Rebbetzin on this one.

    Some small baking advice that might make your life easier:

    1. Use parchment paper (available at target and grocery stores, also at Michael’s) – totally saves on cleanup, almost no pans to wash! Plus you can just slide the parchment onto the table or counter and then the little puppies cool right there. But it can be reused for a whole baking as well.

    2. Sounds like they came out perfect, but if you’re really worried about the dough, just add a little extra flour to the batter, 1 tablespoon at a time.

    3. The egg wash spread on each circle before filling really does help them stick together. But I think that folded ‘tash have less of a problem with opening up than the pinchy ones.

    YOU ROCK, my friend and don’t forget it!

  4. Thursday, 25 February 2010 3:15 pm

    Who wouldn’t enjoy being serenaded??

    Apparently I don’t have the kind of voice that is made for serenading, or so I might have been told. 😉

  5. Friday, 26 February 2010 2:20 pm

    one thing we women do a LOT of is devalue ourselves. if another woman came to you with these thoughts i am 100% sure that you’d have a whole list of positive qualities to shower her with and to make her feel wonderful. it looks like you have a great support system– LISTEN TO THEM! you deserve to feel amazing!

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