Some readers may remember Hananel my Moroccan son-in-law, but you don’t know that he really likes hamin, the Moroccan version of eastern European cholent. The idea of hamin is to assemble chickpeas, wheat, un-cracked eggs, pepper, beef, potatoes, and dates, stuff each in a bag, throw them all in a pot of boiling water with salt, paprika, and a lot of oil, and leave it on the special Shabbat hotplate overnight so you have something hot to eat after synagogue.
Early in Hananel’s marriage to my daughter, when I still thought it was okay to change the status quo a bit, I explained that my husband and I do not like hamin and would he please not make it at our house. While we were on the subject, would he please stop bringing Coca-Cola [please see previous posts on Coca-Cola] to our house and feeding it to our children and grandchildren?
Some people might call us ‘health nuts’. but for the last 20-odd years Nathan and I had banned from our kitchen anything that looked like greasy food in plastic bags overcooked in unfiltered sink water, which was just what Hananel liked to make.
For a while my son-in-law did refrain from cooking hamin at our house.
This soon fell apart, and that is the fault of a certain Hassidic rabbi [I'm sure he meant well] who, after receiving a small donation, blessed me that my house would be filled with joy [in Hebrew, simcha].
The first sign that the blessing worked happened when I bumped into a Breslev chassid named Nachman, who requested a small donation for Rabbi Eliezer Berland, shlita, and telephoned me later that the rabbi wanted to change my name from Elise to Alizah. In case you don't know, Alizah means ‘happy’ in Hebrew.
The second sign that the blessing worked happened when my daughter fell in love with Hananel, and I met his mother, who came to my house and whose name of course was Simcha, which you remember means joy.
A short time later, my younger daughter married another Moroccan, whose name Yitzchak means he will laugh, and Yitzchak's mother’s name is Alizah, which you already know means ‘happy’.
Anyway, because of this blessing, the simchas [joyful occasions] in my house tend to get out of hand.
Because whenever another simcha happens, people come to our house and Hananel cooks a very large pot of hamin.