Recently, I was able to access all of the e-mails stored since 2000 on my
busted laptop. Occasionally, there are requests for this classic, by Sarah
Meir. If she hasn't posted it in some form to her blogsite, she should. It
deals with one of the more important halachic issues Jews face here, the
Halacha of the Mangal. This is one of those issues where spreading heat is
as important as spreading light. The rabbanit speaks below in response to a
she'elah. The one asking the she'elah is b"h on his way here soon with his
family from Minneapolis.
>Someone brought up the question of BBQ grills, and I
>had a further question. Sorry if this is hopelessly naive.
Not at all. If you're going to be an Israeli, you have to understand the
central place the mangal (hibatchi-type barbeque grill) plays in our
national life (this is especially relevant since Independence Day is
near. We may not have the Bet HaMikdash currently, but on Yom Atzmaut the sweet
savor of innumerable burnt offerings wafts heavenwards as almost every
household barbeques in honor of the holiday)
> I know Israel is short of wood as a natural resource,
> and thus furniture is often made of chipboard (or is
> very expensive.) I'm guessing that charcoal is
> therefore a similarly scarce resource, whether
> briquettes or hardwood. Is that true?
Charcoal is readily available, but little or none of it is locally
produced. In recent years "fancy" briquets that are pre-treated for
instant lighting are available in Israel, but no true Israeli uses them.
Instead he buys bags of ordinary lumps, which must then be dowsed with
either kerosene or "special" charcoal lighting fluid (kerosene). There
are those who hold that it is permissible to use fire-lighting lumps which
are made of some porous substance impregnated with combustible stuff and put
under the mound of charcoal to be lit, but others do not allow themselves
Once the charcoal has had a match thrown on it, when the flames die down,
the true Israeli haredi(extremely pious) will tear a bit of cardboard off a carton and fan
the charcoal with it violently. There are (!) plastic "fans" one can buy
which imitate the cardboard, but the less observant will actually use
either an electric fan or a hair dryer (if they're barbeque-ing at home.
If you're in the woods, it's all elbow grease). Only the Reform will use
a (heaven forfend!) gas grill which takes all the fun out of the experience
(singed hair, burnt fingers, etc.)
The choice of grill is also extremely important. Americans have Webber
grills. Since all things American are regarded as superior in Israel,
you can actually buy a Webber grill in Israel, but I'll let you in on a
secret: they're never used. A consummate status symbol, they stand in a
of the patio, so all the neighbors can see how sophisticated you are. Ditto
gas grills (if you're an Israeli). What IS in daily use is the "mangal"
which is really just an open aluminum box with four 6" legs and a
removable grill on top. The lazy will put this device on a ledge but the
Israeli puts it on the ground so he has to squat, most uncomfortably,
near it, both to get the fire going and to cook the meat.
There is also halacha for the proper way to cook the meat. None of this
turning it over and over so the juices are sealed in and the meat tasty.
No, it should be charred on one side and THEN flipped over to char on the
other, the resulting food having the appearance and appeal of the sole of
an old shoe. I'll let you in on a secret that will impress all your
friends and family with your "klita" (absorption) into Israeli society: cut an onion
in half, stick a fork into the rounded side, and put it in a dish with some
oil. Before putting the meat on the grill, rub the grill with the oiled
onion and it won't stick. One of the great Israeli inventions.
Remember that no Israeli ever cooks anything but meat on the grill, and
always cooks far more than is needed. No "furrin" nonsense with veggies.