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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recent comments to "Lentil Soup Is Not Red"

uh oh… here we go again...I am so glad that you found a satisfactory answer...phew

By it's me on 2008 11 25

Amazing it seems to me that this would match a rasha’s personality very well to do everything without getting the deeper meaning out of it it seems that this midda of Esav went so deep that it showed even in the way he ate his food without cooking it to let it be used to it’s full potential this horrible midda should make us see red as it can bring a person to unimaginable depth’s

By Sheldon on 2008 11 26

I’m curious as to why you’re digging your heels in against the possibility that the red lentils we eat today are different from the ones eaten thousands of years ago. Many grains, fruits and vegetables have been modified as farming progressed, why would it be so strange to think that lentils haven’t been?

By Devo K on 2008 11 27

I’m open to the idea that ancient, middle-eastern lentils were different but I have not been able to find any evidence at all. I inquired in several organic food stores and on the internet.

By Sender on 2008 11 27

I just received the following from Gil (along with a really nice note):
“By the way, Yaakov also never saw paprika either, another red coloring for soup, as it too is native to South America.”

By Sender on 2008 11 27

Rabbi Shalom Shwadron in Lev Shalom quotes this vort. R’ Gil - you’re in good company!

By Shlomo Fishelis on 2008 11 28

So I posted to several SCA groups I belong to ( and asked if anyone has any documentation regarding lentils and if they’ve been modified over the centuries. So far no one has provided any sources that the lentils have changed, but several people have suggested that it is our perception of color that has changed over the centuries. (BTW, to me ‘red’ lentils aren’t very red at all. I’d call them orange.)

Somone else said that often masoor dal, which is a red lentil dish from India often will look much redder than another red lentil dish. (And a quick Google of images shows that).

And finally, here is someone’s suggestion regarding color perception: It should also be considered that color words, while normally having a fairly well-defined “central” meaning, have boundaries that are extremely fuzzy and quite variable (both between languages and over time in a language). So while the color of cooked lentils may not be as central an example of the concept/word “red” as uncooked red lentils are, it’s quite plausible that cooked-lentil-color might be included in the larger conceptual space labelled as “red” within a particular language at a particular time. And, as the evolution of color language in Western society has generally tended towards more color terms with finer distinctions between them, it’s also quite plausible that the conceptual space covered by a word for “red” at the time this story was formulated was significantly larger than that covered by the same word today.

By Devo K on 2008 11 30

Thank You. I found your research both flattering and fascinating. The word Edom is used in reference to blood and wine, both of which are red by our definitions as well. The words for green and orange are less defined, leaving room for a wide spectrum of reds as you suggested. I’m not convinced, but I guess it is possible. All the best!

By Sender on 2008 11 30

Nice pshat.

I have a kashe, however, in comporting it with Rashi’s gloss on Esav’s name:

ויקראו שמו עשו: הכל קראו לו כן, לפי שהיה נעשה ונגמר בשערו כבן שנים הרבה

עָשׂוּי means “done”, so that might entail that indeed the RSL were infact “done” and not raw.

By rhayyim on 2013 11 01

Rabbi Haber, I had the exact same question.  Thanks for clarifying that for me.

By Shira on 2013 11 03

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