“No flour, no Torah; no Torah, no flour.” – Pirkei Avot 3:21
What is parve?
In the kosher kitchen, there are three general food categories – dairy, meat, and parve (or pareve). Parve ingredients include all fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, and eggs. Unlike meat and dairy, which cannot be mixed in the same dish or meal, parve foods may be combined with meat or dairy dishes and ingredients, as well as eaten on their own. Once parve ingredients, such as flour, are mixed with milk, cream, butter or cheese the resulting dish is dairy and cannot be served at a meal with meat. Baked goods made only from parve ingredients are the most versatile and the only (meatless) option for serving with meat.
Parve is a Yiddish adjective that literally means “neutral.” English speakers have adopted it from Yiddish. Modern Hebrew has its own term, stami.
What does “No flour, no Torah; no Torah, no flour” mean?
This ancient rabbinic teaching can be interpreted in multiple ways. The pshat, or plain meaning, is that by keeping our bodies nourished, flour makes it possible for us to learn Torah. Torah, in turn, guides not just how we obtain and treat this sustaining substance and the foods created from it, but how we understand and live in the world with others.
We may also understand ”No flour, no Torah; no Torah, no flour” as defining and even representing the relationship between God and Israel. The importance of flour in the lives of our ancestors is evidenced by the number and range of commandments related to the cultivation, harvesting, and use of domesticated grains. Indeed, the ability to sustain themselves by producing grain for their own use differentiates the Israelites’ status as slaves in Egypt – where their lives were embittered with all sorts of tasks in the field (Ex. 1:14) – and as wanderers in the wilderness – where God would rain down bread…from the sky (Ex. 16:4) – from their standing as stewards of the land they will settle as free men and women where they must set aside a loaf as a gift…like the gift from the threshing floor (Num. 15:19) for God.
The Parve Baker is a place where flour and Torah, Torah and flour consciously mingle. Inspired by this verse from Pirkei Avot, I welcome you to explore them with me.
Why don’t you post more vegan, nut-free, gluten-free, low-fat or low-carbohydrate recipes?
My general approach to baking is to use the freshest, best quality kosher ingredients with the fewest chemical additives available to produce desserts, breads, and other treats that are a pleasure to eat. The recipes that I share on The Parve Baker are ones that I know yield excellent results in a home kitchen. They also tend to be the ones that my family, friends and I most enjoy eating. Consuming them in moderation is key. That said, I know that even a small amount of some ingredients is too much for people who stringently avoid particular foods for health and other reasons. My hope is that everyone will find something new among the parve recipes collected here that will inspire them to head to the kitchen, turn on the oven, and enjoy some good baking sooner rather than later.
"The Torah begins and ends with acts of loving kindness."
– Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 14aTake me to the Torah Morsels Archive