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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Elul and Gribenes

I know this is not in keeping with the lofty and sober tone of this blog, but the exception will have to prove the rule.

My office is located in my mother's home. Today, I was working at the computer in my office, and suddenly, I found myself lifted off my chair and carried to the kitchen by the unmistakable aroma of gribenes.  (See the Comments for a recipe someone was kind enough to send in.)

As I watched my mother carefully prepare this very special treat for Rosh Hashanna, she asked if I would like to have a gribeneh. I was taken aback. I asked my mother, you're offering me a gribeneh? In middle of the day? In middle of the week? During Ellul??? I liked my mother's answer so much, I am posting it here.

She said that she offered me the gribeneh davka now during Ellul, so I shouldn't be "asid liten din vecheshbon al kol sheraasa eino velo achal" (every man will face heavenly judgment for each and every thing he saw and did not enjoy.) This is, of course, a quote from the last couple of lines of the Yerushalmi in the end of Kiddushin.

This almost matches the time, some thirty five years ago, that we had a meshulach who was a Satmarer in the house, and my mother offered him gefilte fish, and then she offered him milk to drink. He was upset; didn't she know that you don't mix fish and milk? My mother answered that it can't be assur, because the gemara in Chulin says "dagim she'alu be'kaara shel basar muttar le'ochlan be'kutach" (fish that was cooked in a fleishikeh pot can be eaten with yogurt-- the rule of naht bar naht.) So it's clear that the Gemara is mattir eating fish and milk. The meshulach was of Hungarian derivation, and I think he would have run away making the sign of the cross if he could have, for protection from this horrifying apparition, a woman who could quote the exactly relevant Gemara better than he could.


great unknown said...

And of course you ate it purely l'shem shama'yim.

Is there a brocho acharona on a single gribeneh als ach'shevai? Perhaps this is taluy on the machlokes Taz and Shach in YD 101:4.

Barzilai said...

NO! It's talui in the machlokes Magen Avraham OC 190 SK 3 and Taz 210 SK 1!

And, by the way, O Great Unknown, on my site tracker I labeled your IP address as The Lamden. And you missed the Mogen Avrohom and the Taz??? You are a pretty good thinker, but you are not much of a drinker.

great unknown said...

Actually, I go with the Divrei Chaim who says that if you make kiddush on a shot of shnapps, you are making kiddush like a goy, and if you use a revi'is of shnapps, you are drinking like a goy.

I am machmir like the second opinion. BiKlal Maneh Ma'asayim.

In any case, YD 101:4 is the only place gribenes are mentioned in the shulchan aruch, TTBOMK.

Barzilai said...

Thank you for the Divrei Chaim, which I had never heard, although it's kind of a strong way of expressing his disagreement with the Taz.

TTBOMK2, although it's not fair that pashtida runs rampant through Shulchan Aruch.

Anonymous said...

For us uninformed Gribness are wat?

Barzilai said...


Basically fried onions and chicken skin.

Best Gribenes Story:
Reb Moshe once was in the Yeshiva of Staten Island for Rosh Hashanna, and his cardiologist, the head of cardiology at Maimonides, stayed at our house in order to be nearby in case he was needed. We sat down to eat, and my wife served a little plate of Gribenes. The doctor looked at them, and said, "What is that? Are those Gribenes? Do you realize that in the whole chicken there is one thin layer of cholesterol, just below the skin, and when you make gribenes you are concentrating the worst, most unhealthy part of the chicken??? Nobody eats gribenes now! I can't believe you still make them. I haven't seen gribenes since my grandmother passed away, and that was many years ago...I remember her gribenes, what a treat it was when she brought them to the table...I wonder if your gribenes taste like hers did...let me taste one...."

And he proceeded to eat them, one by one, until they were all gone.

This was not an individual's plate. It was the serving plate. It held the entire gribene stock for yomtov.

Anonymous said...

Re: pashtida. When the Shulchan Aruch was written, potatoes were unknown in the Eastern Hemisphere - first introduced to Europe in the 1530s. I am dan the rishonim and early acharonim l'kav z'chus (as if they needed it) and I am sure that they would be agreeable to my translation of pashtida as a stuffed potato kugel.
Very much as killing animals for food first became permitted after the dimunition of humanity in the Mabul, so did Hashem grant us potato kugel after the girush sfarad.

LkwdGuy said...

Reminds me of a great story.There was an oni going door to door. He knocked on one door and the elderly woman of the house shuffled to the door, opened it a crack and peeked out. In her shrill voice she yelled "what do you want". The oni started his pitiful tale of illness and poverty. The woman shouted "Go away, I don't even know you". After circling the block a few times the oni knocked again. The woman peeked out and screamed "Go away, I told you I don't know you". The oni responded "of course you know me, I was just here 15 minutes ago".

That is why we eat gribine in Elul.

Barzilai said...

Lakewood Guy, that is a fine story. I read it four times and I still can't figure out how it connects gribenes to ellul; but I'm working on it.

ProfK said...

Gribenes, also known as griven or grivalach, from the Yiddish/German for "ripped apart" as opposed to being cut into even pieces.

The recipe at epicurious isn't bad but heimishe grivalach from my area of Europe were not pan fried but deep fried--think boiled in melted shmaltz. And no onions or knobel as they would get burnt before the grivalach were crisp enough. Served as a forspeis in wealthier homes back then and as a main course in homes that couldn't afford meat the way we can today, and who did not waste any part of the chicken, almost bar none. The same people that made grivalach also served chicken feet and glinglach--cow lungs.

Anonymous said...

Important ELUL acronyms(;