Emor (Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23)

I first chanted Torah (leyned) from the scroll when I was 17, on the second day of Passover. This was the first time a woman did so at my synagogue. That was not my goal. A friend’s uncle had suggested I learn how after hearing me chant a haftarah elsewhere, and I was very suggestible. My mother convinced the rabbi to allow me to learn, so I did, along with maybe 4 12-year-old boys.  The instructor was very cute, which was both a plus (obviously) and a minus (distraction).  At the time, not only did I not own a tikkun, I didn’t know what one was. (It’s a book for preparing Hebrew readings (mainly Torah) to be chanted from a scroll. One side of each page has the text with the cantillation marks, vowels, and punctuation, while the other has the text as it appears in the scroll, with none of that.)  I did have a miniature Torah scroll, really a toy, with part of the text and very small print.  Luckily, it included Lev. 23:33 – 44, part of my assignment, which is included in this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Emor.

Leviticus 22:26 – 23:44 contains instructions for observing the “fixed times” of the year, the Sabbath and holidays.  Besides the normal weekly reading, it is read on the second day of Passover and the first two days of Sukkot, so it’s a good text for a prospective Torah reader to start with.  Our son’s Bar Mitzvah was on the first day of Sukkot, but I don’t recall if he has read his portion since then. For my class, the second day of Passover was also good because we had until spring to learn our parts.  Also, that day has famously low synagogue attendance, being right after the first seder’s four cups of wine, so few people were present to be annoyed by any newbie mistakes or offended by my presence. 

There are other texts in the Torah concerning the holiday and Sabbath observance, but Emor fleshes out (ha ha) the sacrificial offerings with additional commands for special times, like blowing the shofar, afflicting your soul, living in booths, etc.

Parashat Emor is in the middle of the Holiness Code (roughly Chapters 17-26 of Leviticus), so we’re still dealing with priests and ritual impurity.  Recall that
“purity” concerns boundaries and wholeness. A priest is not allowed to contract ritual impurity through contact with a corpse, except his parent, child, brother or virgin sister, and cannot marry a harlot or divorcee. The High Priest is not allowed to come into contact with any corpse, even close family, and must marry a virgin.  To offer the sacrifices, a priest must also be “perfect,” that is, physically undamaged (see 21:18-23). There are also offerings that only the priests and their households get to eat, so that too is strictly watched.

Emor ends with directions for kindling the lamps with pure olive oil and an incident of blasphemy. The blasphemer is stoned to death, so this leads into laws concerning capital punishment for blasphemy and for murder and restitution for assault, another statement of “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (24:20).

I like numbers, so here’s this from 2017: “How can the different parts of Emor be linked together?  The overall theme of holiness is highlighted by the number 7.  We are to eat matzah for 7 days and the 7th day of Pesach is designated a special day.  We live in huts during Sukkot for 7 days.  Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, occurs 7 weeks, each of which is 7 days, after a designated day of Pesach.  The day for blowing the shofar is the first day of the 7th month.  Shabbat is the 7th day of each week.  And the animal must be with its mother for 7 days, just as a boy must have lived at week before circumcision on the 8th day.  Maimonides explains 7 days as the time before viability is established, in other words, completion.  And (Lev. 8:33-35) the priests recently had a seven-day ordination.  Even the oil is linked to a 7 since there are 7 lamps to be lit.  Then the blasphemer is presented as the antithesis of being holy. So, all of Emor, through sevens, is part of a plan for wholeness and completion, in short, for holiness, something both priests and all the people are to strive for.”

Shabbat shalom,
Irene

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https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/perfection

Quotes about Perfection

  • Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. Vince Lombardi
  • Every particular in nature, a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing. You don’t have to do anything to earn it. Your shortcomings, your lack of self-esteem, physical perfection, or social and economic success – none of that matters. No one can take this love away from you, and it will always be here. Ram Dass

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https://womenonthefence.com/2014/09/24/wordless-wednesday-shana-tova/

tph boss synagogue

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https://www.rd.com/culture/number-7/

A different take on 7.

Here’s Why Your Favorite Number Is Probably 7 (abridged)
Brandon Specktor

You are a rugged individualist—and so is everyone else.

Author and mathematician Alex Bellos set out to find the world’s favorite number in a massive, public vote on his website. Bellos’ survey swiftly received more than 44,000 votes from numberphiles around the world.

In third place, number eight was rewarded for its lovely symmetry and associations with the Chinese character for prosperity. In second place, three took the prize for its many appearances in culture and nature. And, with nearly ten percent of the total vote, the world’s favorite number is… seven.

It turns out that seven’s triumph only reaffirms a human fascination that goes back thousands of years. Bellos points out that ancient Babylonian tablets were riddled with sevens. There are seven dwarfs, seven samurai, seven sins, seven seas. In nature, seven days of the week, seven continents, seven planets visible in the sky with the naked eye. But all of this, Bellos suspects, is the effect, not the cause of our sevenfold obsession.

The real reason people love seven: Seven is a stone-cold rebel that follows no rules but its own. Seven is the only number between two and ten that is neither a multiple nor a factor of the others. In this way, “lucky number seven” stands alone—and we grasp this implicitly.

“It’s unique, a loner, the outsider. And humans interpret this arithmetical property in cultural ways,” Bellos says. “By associating seven with a group of things, you kind of make them special too. The point here is that we’re always sensitive to arithmetical patterns, and this influences our behavior—even if we’re not conscious of it.”

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https://www.rd.com/funny/clever-light-bulb-jokes/

(4 of) 17 Light Bulb Jokes That Make You Sound Smart

  • How many polite New Yorkers does it take to screw in a light bulb? Both of them
  • How many fatalists does it take to screw in a light bulb? What does it matter? It’s just going to go out again anyway.
  • How many archaeologists does it take to screw in a light bulb? One team, but they’ll label every piece of the old one, mark its location in the room, and write a detailed description before determining that it was used to store cornmeal.
  • How many Chinese Red Guards does it take to screw in a light bulb? 100,000 – to give the bulb a cultural revolution.

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http://jokes.cc.com/funny-dark-humor/fr25ys/matt-iseman–death-penalty

MATT ISEMAN: DEATH PENALTY

There is nothing funny about the death penalty — except the name. Folks, death is not a penalty; 10 yards is a penalty.

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http://www.humorlinks.coython/scripts/LifeOfBrian.htm

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) – The Stoning Scene (or you can watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffwFXGPRDu4 ) [lightly abridged]


Mother: Ah, how I hate wearing these beards.

Brian: Why aren’t women allowed to go to stonings, mum?
Mother: It’s written, that’s why….
Beard and stone seller: Stone, sir?
Mother: No, they’ve got a lot there, lying around on the ground.
Beard and stone seller: Oh, not like these, sir. Look at this! Feel the quality of that, that’s craftmanship, sir.
Mother: Hmm…all right, we’ll have two with points and…a big flat one.
Brian: Could I have a flat one, mum?
Mother: Ssch!
Brian: Sorry! Dad!
Mother: Ehm…all right, two points, ahm…two flats and a packet of gravel.
Beard and stone seller: Packet of gravel. Should be a good one this afternoon.
Local boy.
Mother: Oh, good.
Beard and stone seller: Enjoy yourselves!…
Priest: Matthias, son of Deuteronomy of Gath…
Matthias: Do I say yes?
Guard: Yes.
Matthias: Yes!
Priest: …you have been found guilty by the elders of the town of uttering the name of our Lord, and so as a blasphemer…
Women disguised as bearded men: Ooh…
Priest: …you are to be stoned to death!
Women disguised as bearded men: Aah!
Matthias: Look, I’d had a lovely supper, and all I said to my wife was: “That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehova!”.
Women disguised as bearded men: Oooh!
Priest: Blasphemy! He said it again!
Women disguised as bearded men: Yeah! Yes! Yes!…
Priest: Very well. By virtue of the authority vested in me…
Rock thrown at Matthias: [Bladonk]…
Matthias: Oh, lay off! We haven’t started yet!

Priest: Come on! Who threw that? Who threw that stone? Come on!
Women disguised as bearded men: She did! She did! He did! He did! He did!
Woman: Sorry, I thought we’d started.
Priest: Go to the back!
Woman: Oh, dear…
Priest: Always one, isn’t there? Now, where were we?
Matthias: Look, I don’t think it ought to be blasphemy, just saying “Jehova”!
Women disguised as bearded men: Aiiih! He did!
Priest: You’re only making it worse for yourself!
Matthias: Making it worse? How could it be worse? Jehova, Jehova, Jehova!
Women disguised as bearded men: Aiiih!
Priest: I’m warning you! If you say Jehova once more…
Rock thrown at Priest: [Bladonk]
Priest: Right! Who threw that?

Matthias: Hehehe…
Priest: Come on! Who threw that?
Women disguised as bearded men: She did! She did! She did! Him! Him! Him!
Priest: Was it you?
Woman II: Yes.
Priest: Right…
Woman II: Well, you did say Jehova!
Women disguised as bearded men: Aiiih!
Rocks thrown at Woman II: [Multiple Bladonks]
Priest: Stop! Stop! Will you stop that! Stop it! Now, look! No one is to stone anyone until I blow this whistle! Do you understand? Even, and I want to make this absolutely clear, even if they do say Jehova!

Women disguised as bearded men: Aiiih!
Rocks thrown at Priest: [Multiple Bladonks]
Priest: Aaargh!

Large boulder crushing Priest: [Bladonk]
Woman III: Good shot!

Women disguised as bearded men: [Applause]

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Kedoshim (Leviticus 19:1 – 20:27)

(From 2016)  Last week’s Torah portion, Acharei Mot, was full of instructions for purification by means of atonement, sacrifices, and abstention from forbidden sexual contacts.  Now that everyone’s been purified and prepped, they are ready for the next stage: Holiness. Indeed, this portion is the heart of what is often referred to as the Holiness Code, Lev. 17-26 (maybe 27).   The theme of holiness is announced immediately:  19:2. “You shall be holy (“kedoshim”), for I, the Lord your God, am holy.”   That is the “why” (“Imitatio Dei,” imitating God), which is repeated over and over. What follows is the “how.”

I’ve read that, in only 64 verses, roughly half the length of a typical Torah reading, Kedoshim contains the 3rd highest number of laws of all the weekly Torah portions.  We’ve read a lot of them before, like observe the Sabbath, don’t worship idols, don’t steal, don’t swear falsely, don’t engage in certain sexual practices, and so on.  Many of the laws seem self-evident requirements for a functioning, ethical society: judge fairly, don’t lie, be honest, don’t gossip, respect the elderly, take care of the poor, don’t hold a grudge, don’t stand by while someone is being hurt, don’t take advantage of someone’s weakness (like orally insulting the deaf or putting a stumbling block in front of the blind), don’t insult your parents, don’t wrong the stranger, and so on.  In short, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (19:18)

Some of the laws seem specific to the times, like forcing a rape victim and rapist to marry, or to the place, like rounding the corners of one’s beard (19:27).  Then there are the “what on earth…” type of laws, like (19:19), don’t mix different kinds of cattle, seed, or wool-plus-linen textiles (shatnez).

What ties all of this together?  What is really meant by “holy”?  Merriam-Webster defines it using words like exalted, worthy of devotion, having a divine quality; sacred, and venerated.  In Judaism, “holy” (kadosh) means set apart as special, such as a bride for a groom in betrothal (kiddushin).  As I noted here last year, we find an even more basic and encompassing definition in Purity and Danger by Mary T. Douglas pp. 54-55:

“We can conclude that holiness is exemplified by completeness. Holiness requires that individuals shall conform to the class to which they belong. And holiness requires that different classes of things shall not be confused.… Developing the idea of holiness as order, not confusion, this list upholds rectitude and straight-dealing as holy, and contradiction and double-dealing as against holiness. …To be holy is to be whole, to be one; holiness is unity, integrity, perfection of the individual and of the kind.”

This is the holiness toward which the Israelites are commanded to strive, as a kingdom of priests and a holy people.  A very tall order, which, as we’ll see, was out of reach for too many of the newly freed slaves.

Shabbat shalom, 
Irene

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(2016) From Heat: A Mode of Motion, by John Tyndall (1868), page 109:

 “To many persons here present a block of ice may seem of no more interest and beauty than a block of glass; but in reality it bears the same relation to glass that an oratorio of Handel does to the cries of a marketplace.  The ice is music, the glass is noise; the ice is order, the glass is confusion.  In the glass, molecular forces constitute an inextricably entangled skein; in the ice they are woven to a symmetric web…”

I included that quotation on order and disorder in solids in the introduction to my dissertation, since it involved studies of glass and I like phrases like “inextricably entangled skein.”  IGP

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https://www.glasbergen.com/wp-content/gallery/lawyers/law27.gif

tph feeling ethical

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https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/wholeness

Quotes about Wholeness

The thing that grounds you, and the thing that really gives you a sense of wholeness, is your family, friends and your community. Those are the things that can mirror back to you what you’re experiencing, and can affirm to you that the stories you are telling are true. Dan Chaon

When you’re a kid you have this sense of wonder and wholeness and a strong sense of your own identity. Hugo Weaving

Rhyme is an attempt to reassemble and reaffirm the possibility of paradise. There is a wholeness, a serenity, in sounds coupling to form a memory. Derek Walcott

To drop into being means to recognize your interconnectedness with all life, and with being itself. Your very nature is being part of larger and larger spheres of wholeness. Jon Kabat-Zinn
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https://upjoke.com/beard-jokes

Beard Jokes

From my 8 year old son: What’s the beard’s favorite kind of nut?
Mustachios

I used to not like my beard
but it grew on me

My dad is always embarrassed about cutting himself while getting rid of his beard, so he locks himself in the bathroom…
I guess he’s just trying to shave face

My dad is a rugged ex-Marine with a salt-and-pepper beard…
He’s a seasoned veteran.

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https://www.rd.com/jokes/money/

Money Jokes

I had my credit card stolen the other day but I didn’t bother to report it because the thief spends less than my wife.

Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back.

I won $3 million on the lottery this weekend so I decided to donate a quarter of it to charity. Now I have $2,999,999.75.

Never lend money to a friend. It’s dangerous. It could damage his memory.

After hearing a sermon on Psalm 52:3-4 (lies and deceit), a man wrote the IRS, “I can’t sleep knowing that I have cheated on my income tax. Enclosed is a check for $150. If 
I still can’t sleep, I’ll send the rest.”

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http://www.stewardshipoflife.org/jokes/

A man visited the pastor, a woman well known for her charitable impulses.
“Pastor,” he said in a broken voice, “I wish to draw your attention to the terrible plight of a poor family in this neighborhood. The father is dead, the mother is too ill to work, and the nine children are starving. They are about to be turned into the cold, empty streets unless someone pays their rent, which amounts to $900.”
“How terrible!” exclaimed the preacher’s wife. “May I ask who you are?”
The sympathetic visitor applied his handkerchief to his eyes. “I’m the landlord,” he sobbed.

 

 

 

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Acharei Mot (Lev. 16:1 – 18:30)

First, a few notes from the calendar.  Then we get back to Leviticus.

The 8th day of Passover, which was on Shabbat this year, is not observed in Israel nor by Reform Jews.  In Israel, they simply went ahead last week with the weekly Torah reading, Acharei Mot and so are a week ahead of those of us in the diaspora, who read Acharei Mot this week. Reform Jews coped by splitting Acharei Mot into 2 parts, for last week and this week.  Eventually, we’ll all be in sync again. Until then, I invite my readers in Israel (yes, I do have some) to check out the archived Torah Portion Humor posts at https://igplotzk.wordpress.com/.

Further, this part of the Jewish calendar induces mood swings, + and -.  Passover, 15 to 21 or 22 Nisan, marks the Exodus from Egypt, a joyful occasion (+).  Then comes Yom Hashoah on 27 Nisan (May 1-2), Holocaust Remembrance Day (-), close to the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (+ and -), which started 15 Nisan (April 19, 1943).  This brings forth many emotions: sorrow, anger, depression, determination… Then there’s Rosh Chodesh Iyar this Sunday and Monday (so there’s a special haftarah Saturday about David and Jonathan, I Samuel 20:18 – 42), and starting a new month is a bit of an upper (+).  But a few days later, on 4 Iyar, is Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day for the fallen soldiers of Israel and victims of terrorism (-).  Definitely somber.  However, 5 Iyar, is Israel Independence Day (+) which was on May 14 in 1948, definitely a happy day in our calendar. 

Okay, back to Leviticus.

“Acharei Mot” means “after the death of,” here, Aaron’s two oldest sons, Nadav and Avihu, who were struck dead when they improperly offered incense a few portions back.  Logically, Aaron next receives detailed instructions
regarding entering the Holy of Holies, so as to prevent a fatal mishap. Next is a section we read on Yom Kippur, a description of Aaron’s Yom Kippur service, how he is to make expiation for himself, his household, and the Israelites. Then he purifies the Holy of Holies, the altar and the Tent of Meeting.  There are also two goats. One designated, by lot, for the Lord and is sacrificed as a sin offering.  The other is designated for Azazel:  

“Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities and transgressions of the Israelites, whatever their sins, putting them on the head of the goat; and it shall be sent off to the wilderness through a designated man. Thus the goat shall carry on it all their iniquities to an inaccessible region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness.” (16:21-22)

The rest of the portion concerns how the people are to be ritually holy, e.g., by offering sacrifices properly, by not eating blood, and by not eating animals that were torn or died naturally. The equivalence of blood with life will become the basic rationale for kosher butchering and removal of blood.   The people must also abstain from a long list of sexual couplings (mainly incest), “for it is by such that the nations that I am casting out before you defiled themselves.” (18:24) If the Israelites behave similarly, they too will be cast out. 

Next week: Kedoshim, or How to Behave

Shabbat shalom,
Irene

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https://www.pinterest.com/pin/AUt7tJATNQW_YIsapZoxSAKNAw7Q54d9fdpqMHtLylkAwz8Al_vzK08/

tph mood swing chains (3)

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I was looking at what I’ve written about Acharei Mot over the years and came across this about scapegoating from 2006.  Yes, I confess, I watched “The Apprentice” for its first five seasons.

“On ‘The Apprentice,’ a team in trouble invariably anoints a scapegoat, usually a genuine oddball, that they want to drive into the wilderness (aka the board room) to be sacrificed (aka fired).  This strategy sometimes works pretty well in eliminating the designated Azazel.  However, from my observations of the last 4 1/2 seasons, the candidates who actually make it to the final two or four are the ones who behaved more according to the commandments in Kedoshim.  They played fair.  They didn’t cheat or lie or indulge in backstabbing.  They stood up for people.  They did not hold grudges.  In short, they behaved ethically and treated each other with respect.  It’s amazing that otherwise bright, accomplished contestants haven’t figured that out yet.” 

The contrast between then and now is astounding. Then again, some things don’t change:

http://www.libertypost.org/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=136739

Last night on TV Moses and the Ten Commandments was on ABC competing with Donald Trump and “The Apprentice” on NBC. So a man who talked to God versus a man who thinks he’s God.  – Jay Leno

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http://www.jewishmag.com/137mag/yom_kippur_humor/yom_kippur_humor.htm

Humor for Yom Kippur (selected)
with thanks to George Relles

In anticipation of Yom Kippur, first we have a few thoughts on sinning and atonement:

“A sense of humor keen enough to show a man his own absurdities will keep him from the commission of all sins, or nearly all, save those worth committing.”
– Samuel Butler
* * * * *
“Sin is sweet in the beginning, but bitter in the end.”
– The Talmud
* * * * *
Sign on a synagogue just before Yom Kippur: “Your sins are not so many that you should stay out…
Or so few that you shouldn’t come in.”
* * * * *
“It ain’t no sin if you crack a few laws now and then, just so long as you don’t break any.”
– Mae West

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http://happylittlethings.com/showthread.php?t=46 [dead link]

Man buys ice cream to atone for theft 35 years ago – 01-22-2007, 06:08 PM :

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — A former La Crosse man ate some stolen ice cream 35 years ago — and the guilt’s been eating at him ever since.

So the Green Bay-area businessman decided to atone for his sin by returning to the scene of the crime – his former middle school – and treating students to an ice cream party.

The donor prefers to remain anonymous. But staff members at Lincoln Middle School in La Crosse appreciate his efforts.

Vice principal Jacque Durnford jokes that the man’s statute of limitations is up.

The man and a friend stole the ice cream from the school cafeteria when he was a student there.

Teacher Richard Stewart and the 40 or so students in his seventh-grade medical partnership class were the beneficiaries of the man’s donation.

Student Emily Paige Johnsrud says the lesson for her was clear – quote – “If you do something bad, you should try to give back.”

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http://www.bangitout.com/top-ten-kohain-gadol-pet-peeves/

Top Ten Kohain Gadol Pet Peeves
ADMIN — JULY 23, 2006

10.Still no temple parking spot reserved for Kohain Gadol (High Priest)
9.Two Words: “Ephod Rash”
8.No cell phone reception in desert Tabernacle
7.Constantly getting confused for KKK Grand Dragon
6.Had to take blood bath in Initial Public “Offering”
5.Small bells on garment ruin daily “Hide N’ Go Seek” Altar Game
4. Urim V’tumimwon’t pick lotto numbers
3.Wearing enough purple to be in a Prince Video
2.Mikvah prune hands
1.Ain’t no “Dress Down Fridays” in the Kodosh Kedoshim (Holy of Holies)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7th & 8th Days of Pesach

 

(Comments from 2016, edited) Yes, it is still Passover (Pesach).  It’s an 8-day holiday, 7 if you’re Reform or Israel.  We are still eating matzah and getting crumbs all over.  And there’s stuff left to do, besides starting to pack up the Pesach stuff.  For example, on the 2nd night, we began to count the Omer, which we will do daily for a total of 49 days, until the holiday of Shavuot.  This counting, known in Hebrew as Sefirot HaOmer, is done in commemoration of the Temple offerings of an “omer” of grain as commanded in Leviticus 23:15–16, which was in the 2nd day Torah reading.  To help you keep track, there are online Omer counters such as The Homer Calendar (which my husband uses – the site also has a lot on “all things Jewish and Simpsons”) as well as apps like Ultimate Omer 2 – The Sefira app you can count on.

Yes, there are more Torah readings.  Actually, as well as the 7th & 8th day holidays, the 4 intermediate days (chol hamoed, this year, 4/22-25) have their own Torah readings, which, since chol hamoed is almost over, you can read about here.

Here are the 7th and 8th day Torah and haftarah readings.  They concern redemption (Hebrews at the Sea, David from Saul, and everyone in the Messianic age) and the holidays:

April 26, 7th day Pesach Exodus 13:17-15:26 The splitting of the Re(e)d Sea, the Song at the Sea. Num. 28:19-25 The Passover sacrifice.  Same as first two days, minus verses 16-18. II Samuel 22:1-51 David’s song of thanks for rescue from Saul et al.  Also the Haftarah for Ha’azinu in the fall.  Contains Psalm 18.
April 27, 8th day Pesach Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17 Tithes. Sabbatical year. Levites. Slaves. Consecration of first born. Holidays: Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot. Num. 28:19-25 Same as 7thday Isaiah 10:32 – 12:6  Messianic vision, which we’ve been leading up to since Shabbat Shekalim. Imagery of animals lying down together and led by a small child.

Besides the Song at the Sea we read on the 7th day, it is customary to read the Song of Songs (Shir HaShirim, aka Song of Solomon,) on the intermediate Sabbath of Passover.  There isn’t one this year, so we could read it on the 8th day, but services are already long then, so we generally skip it.  That’s a pity, since it’s chanted to a lovely melody which evokes spring and perfume and young love:

‘For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.’

(2:11-12)

‘Turtle’ is Jacobean for turtledove.

There are also many, many musical settings of parts of the Song of Songs in various languages. A few examples of popular Hebrew songs are Dodi Li (verses 2:16, 3:6, 4:9, 4:16, music by Nira Chen), Kol Dodi (verse 2.8, folk melody), and El Ginat Egoz (6:11; 7:12-13: 4:16, Sarah Levi Tanai). Pablo Casals composed a lovely setting in Latin, Nigra Sum (1:4-5; 2:10b-12a). There are dozens and dozens of settings from the 12th to 21st centuries, especially the 16th, listed at http://www.grabinski-online.de/div/hoheslied.html.  Maybe I’ll take a look at some medieval or Renaissance ones someday.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

Chag sameach and Shabbat shalom,
Irene

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https://www.jewishpress.com/cartoons/red-sea-joke/

tph red-sea-joke

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https://www.israel21c.org/15-things-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-matzah/

(7 of) 15 things you always wanted to know about matzah | ISRAEL21c

By ISRAEL21c Staff  APRIL 5, 2017, 7:50 AM

1.Matza, matzah, matzo, matzoh … a food with many spellings thanks to its Hebrew origins and no direct English translation. Matzah is also called “poor bread” and “bread of affliction” in the Torah.

5.Each square of regular machine-made matzah packs 111 calories. There are 46 calories in one matzah ball.

8.1838: the year Frenchman Isaac Singer invented the first matzah dough-rolling machine. Rabbis weren’t all that keen on this innovation, but the idea was eventually accepted.

9.1888: the year Lithuanian immigrant Dov Behr opened the first matzah factory in Cincinnati, Ohio. Behr* took on the name Manischewitz and named his factory the B. Manischewitz Company.

*Actually, his original name was Dov Behr Abramson. According to his geni.com entry, “he purchased the passport of a dead man named Manischewitz to gain passage to America in 1888.” IGP

11.2008: the year competitive-eating champion Joey Chestnut ate 78 matzo balls in eight minutes, according to the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

12.2010: the year Chef Jon Wirtis of Shlomo and Vito’s New York Delicatessen in Tucson, Arizona, created the world’s largest matzah ball (kneidlin Yiddish). The 426-pound (193-kg) monstrosity – comprising more than 1,000 eggs, 125 pounds (57 kg) of matzah meal (finely ground matzah), 25 pounds (11 kg) of schmaltz (fat) and 20 pounds (9 kg) of potato starch – and was created for Tucson Jewish Food Festival.

13.2011: the year Manischewitz set a world record for largest matzah. In honor of the opening of its new headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, Manischewitz baked a 25-foot-1-inch (7.5-meter) long and 41.5-inch (a little over a meter) wide piece of matzah that weighed nearly 25 pounds (11 kilograms). That’s about 336 regular matzahs in one! Or over 37,000 calories…

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http://www.simpsonsarchive.com/episodes/AABF14.txt

A Simpsons Exodus (Last sent out in 2013.)

This is an excerpt of a “Simpsons” episode, “Simpsons Bible Stories,” written by Tim Long, Larry Doyle, and Matt Selman that aired on April 4, 1999, a version of the Exodus with Milhouse as Moses and Principal Skinner as Pharaoh.  At this point, Moses/Milhouse and Lisa have been imprisoned in a pyramid by Chief Wiggum.

 Milhouse and Lisa climb the spikes, like a ladder, until they reach the top of the pyramid.  They remove the capstone and slide down the side, blowing a rams’ horn.

“Our time has come!” Milhouse shouts.  “Follow me to freedom!”

Meanwhile, Bart is chiseling “I will not deface,” as a rebus, into the blackboard.  He hears the commotion and runs outside.

Wiggum runs into Skinner’s chamber to tell him the children of Israel are escaping.  Skinner is unconcerned until he is reminded that this would leave him without a labor force.

 Meanwhile, the children have reached the shore of the Red Sea.

Lisa:           Oh, we’ll never be able to swim that far.
[Skinner and his army of chariots appear on the horizon]

Bart:           Oy, caramba!

Milhouse: [throws down his staff] Screw this; I’m converting.  [to the sky] Save us, o mighty Ra!

Lisa:           Hey, cut that out!  I have an idea.
[shortly later, as clouds gather, the children are lined up at the latrines]
Okay, Moses — lead your people.

Milhouse:   Flush!
[the children do so, in unison.  The Red Sea is soon drained]
It’s a miracle!  I performed a miracle!  I’m a genius!

Lisa exhorts everyone to cross.  Skinner sees what has happened and commands his troops into the “temporarily dry sea.”  As soon as they are part of the way across, the water returns, swamping them all.  The men surface, and begin horsing around like kids in a pool.  Lou complains that Eddie is splashing him, but Wiggum just tells him to splash Eddie back.
Safely on the other side of the sea, the children cheer.

Milhouse:   Well, Lisa, we’re out of Egypt.  So, what’s next for the Israelites?  Land of milk and honey?

Lisa: [consulting a scroll] Hmm, well, actually it looks like we’re in for forty years of wandering the desert.

Milhouse: Forty years?  But after that, it’s clear sailing for the Jews, right?

Lisa: [nervously] Uh-huh-hum, more or less — hey, is that manna?  [the children cheer and run off into the distance]

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https://www.jweekly.com/2014/05/09/counting-the-omer-on-the-streets-of-san-francisco/

Counting the Omer on the streets of San Francisco (excerpts)

BY MAX A. CHERNEY | MAY 9, 2014

On the night of May 3, next to the roaring traffic on busy 19th Avenue in San Francisco, a dozen people gathered to tell a few jokes, sing songs and count the Omer.

Starting a few minutes late — the group was on “Jewish standard time” one of the participants joked — those assembled held a Havdallah service and then proceeded to count the 19th day of the Omer.

Counting the Omer is an injunction to count the number of each day out loud during the 49 days between the second day of Passover and Shavuot.

Coincidentally, San Francisco has 49 avenues, which led to the birth of the Omer Project last year after Yeashore Community maggid Jeff Haas and Reuben Politi put two and two together — or, more accurately, 49 and 49.

It’s an effort to get people to come together and publicly participate in the counting ritual, while also injecting a post-denominational spirit into the proceedings — meaning, according to the organizers, that they included a plurality of traditions.

“The Omer period connects between the move from slavery to freedom and the receiving of the Torah,” Rabbi Danny Gottlieb of San Francisco Congregation Beth Israel Judea explained to J. last year.

In addition to the ritual activities, some members of the group enjoyed telling jokes, which took the event a little bit in the direction of the popular Web series “Old Jews Telling Jokes.”

There was a sing-along component, too. Among other songs, organizers Haas and Politi penned original lyrics about the Omer, set to George Gershwin’s famous “Summertime” from the 1935 opera “Porgy and Bess.”

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https://www.successfulsinging.com/fun-stuff/singing-jokes/

A Choristers’ Guide To Keeping Conductors In Line (excerpts)

The following rules are intended as guides to the development of habits which will promote the proper type of relationship between singer and conductor.

3.Bury your head in the music just before cues.

5.Loudly clear your throat during pauses (tenors are trained to do this from birth). Quiet instrumental interludes are a good chance to blow your nose.

6.Long after a passage has gone by, ask the conductor if your C# was in tune. This is especially effective if you had no C# or were not singing at the time.

8.Wait until well into a rehearsal before letting the conductor know that you don’t have the music.

9.Look at your watch frequently. Shake it in disbelief occasionally.

10.When possible, sing your part either an octave above or below what is written. This is excellent ear-training for the conductor. If he hears the pitch, deny it vehemently and claim that it must have been the combination tone.

11.Tell the conductor, “I can’t find the beat.” Conductors are always sensitive about their “stick technique” so challenge it frequently.

13.Ask the conductor if he has listened to the von Karajan recording of the piece. Imply that he could learn a thing or two from it. Also good: ask, “Is this the first time you’ve conducted this piece?”

 

 

 

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First Two Days of Pesach

My dear husband, now retired, is shouldering a huge amount of the Passover preparation this year. He will get plenty of extra hugs.

Passover (Pesach) has become the most overwhelming holiday in the Jewish calendar, at least in the U.S.  It requires a whole lot of preparation, lasts 7 or 8 days (depending), and its highlight is a long ceremonial dinner (or two), the seder, with story-telling and ritual from a booklet called a haggadah, usually with a large number of people, especially family. So it’s a big deal, fitting for celebrating the Exodus from Egypt.

The focus of the preparation is getting rid of leavened foods, chametz.  I wrote here in 2017, “We are supposed to rid our abodes of chametz, which technically is “any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt that has come into contact with water and been allowed to ferment and ‘rise’.” Chametz is also symbolically linked to pride (being puffed up, get it?), so getting rid of chametz is a means of increasing your humility.  But trying to rid one’s house of all chametz can be carried to extremes if one conflates   chametz with schmutz (dirt). I have read of Legos placed in a mesh bag and laundered to get rid of possible crumbs on crevices.  In the last several years, however, I’ve seen articles encouraging a moderate approach.  An article in my own shul’s newsletter declared that if we’re spending more than a day getting rid of chametz, it’s too much.  Debra Nussbaum Cohen’s 2011 essay, The Passover Cleaning Season Is Upon Us, and the link there to advice from Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg are also worth looking at.”

There are a whole lot of haggadahs to choose from for your seder. See, for example, http://www.ifitshipitshere.com/the-ten-quirkiest-passover-haggadot/. Now you can even download them. Two examples:

1.     Explore the connections between the ancient Passover story and today’s refugees in the HIAS Haggadah

2.     The JewishGen Passover Companion 2019 contains inspirational vignettes about how Passover was observed in
various communities, along with first-hand accounts about the great
effort and personal risk (Mesirat Nefesh) Jews took to observe
Passover during the Holocaust….To read it online, please click here: http://bit.ly/JewishGen2019FS
To download the file to your computer (and for printing), please click
here: http://bit.ly/JewishGenPassoverDL

Since the sedarim are generally long and incorporate 4 cups of wine, attendance at services the first two days of Pesach is often light. My husband has to go the 2nd day this year because he’s doing some of the Torah reading. Here is my crib sheet in case you actually go or are just curious.

April 20, 1st day Pesach Exodus 12:21-51

The first Passover, the Exodus, and laws for future Passovers (duh).

Numbers 28:16-25

The Passover sacrifice (also duh).

Joshua 5:2-6:1, 27

[or 3:5-7; 5:2–6:1, 27] Circumcision of the males born in the wilderness.

April 21, 2nd day Pesach Leviticus 22:26-23:44

The holidays (“set times”).

Numbers 28:16-25

Same as the first day.

II Kings 23:1-25

or 23:1-9, 21-25] King Josiah’s religious revival.

But was there actually an Exodus from Egypt, as written in the Bible?  Were there 10 plagues?  Did the sea split? (That’s in the 7th day Torah reading.)  There are all sorts of opinions with varying levels of believability. Here are links to some of them:

Move Over, Moses: A Pharaoh May Have Created the Ancient Kingdom of Israel  New archaeological evidence and biblical scholarship suggest Shishak wanted to make Egypt great again – but may have inadvertently steered the Israelites into creating a great nation of their own.

Exodus: History or Mythic Tale?

(I haven’t yet read the 5 items below.)

1.ESSAY by JOSHUA BERMAN  March 2, 2015, professor of Bible at Bar-Ilan University and a research fellow at the Herzl Institute.   Was There an Exodus? A biblical scholar reviews the historical claims of the biblical book of Exodus.

Many are sure that one of Judaism’s central events never happened. Evidence, some published here for the first time, suggests otherwise.

To this day, no pulpit talk by a contemporary American rabbi has generated greater attention or controversy than a sermon delivered by Rabbi David Wolpe on the morning of Passover 2001. ‘The truth,’ Rabbi Wolpe informed his Los Angeles congregation, ‘is [that] the way the Bible describes the exodus [from Egypt] is not the way it happened, if it happened at all.’”

  1. RESPONSE How to Judge Evidence for the Exodus
  2. RESPONSE The Exodus: Case Not Proved
  3. RESPONSE Biblical Criticism Hasn’t Negated the Exodus
  4. LAST WORD Was Israel Taken out of Egypt, or Egypt out of Israel?

Actually, I react to all this with only academic interest.  The historicity of the Exodus doesn’t really matter to me. The story is a way of demonstrating, or at least introducing, the foundation and values and principles that define a people.

Shabbat shalom and a zissun (sweet) Pesach,
Irene

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https://www.pinterest.com/pin/77124212347795806/

tph pesadik lego

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For your amusement: A newly relevant rewrite of the discussion in the Haggadah about how to tell four sons/children about Passover,  How To Talk To Your Four Sons About The Mueller Report  Very clever! (thanks, Stanley)

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https://hookedonhouses.net/2008/03/09/sunday-funny-cleaning-is-futile/

tph babybluesblinds1tph babybluesblinds2

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http://www.bangitout.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Seder-Sidekick-2019-1.pdf

Top Ten Signs the Russians have Hacked your Seder

  1. The 4 glasses of wine suddenly 4 shots vodka
    9. Marror (bitter herb) sure smells a lot like ‘military-grade nerve agent’
    8. Hillel sandwich now includes beluga caviar
    7. The 4 sons now showing as 4 million sons on Facebook
    6. Yachatz (breaking the middle matza) done in Ivan Drago voice proclaiming” “I will Break You”
    5. Dtzach Adash Bachab mnemonic (for the 10 plagues in Hebrew) is now U.S.S.R
    4. Your drunk Uncle Rob keeps asking you to call him Boris
    3. Seder invitation begins “Whoever is Hungry, welcome to socialism”
    2. Anyone who discloses the location of the Afikomen gets shot
    1. Seder concludes with “Next Year in Crimea”

Really Really Bad Seder Jokes

● What army base is off limits on Passover? Fort Leavenworth
● What’s the difference between matzoh and cardboard?? Cardboard doesn’t leave crumbs in the rug
● What kind of shoes did the Egyptians where during the plague of Frogs? Open toad!
● What do you call someone who derives pleasure from the bread of affliction? A matzochist.
● Who is behind Pharaoh’s Evil Empire? Darth Seder
● What was the name of the Secret Spy for the Jews in Egypt? Bondage, James Bondage
● Q: What’s the best cheese to eat on Pesach? A: Matza-rella.
● How many Pharoahs does it take to screw in a light bulb? One, but he won’t let it go.

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http://www.jewishmag.com/142mag/humor/humor.htm

Moses’s Gift to the Auto Industry
My five-year-old daughter excitedly greeted her mother: “Guess what we made in Jewish school today, Mommy. We made unleaded bread!”

K’vetch, we need you!
Picture a nerdy looking man named Herbert sitting at the Passover seder table. He speaks: “Why do I hafta sit at the kids’ table? This stinks!! This really stinks!!”

Moral: . . . No seder would be complete without the bitter Herb.

 

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Metzora (Lev.14:1-15:33), Shabbat HaGadol

I have this nagging sense that we have entered an age of global isolationism and disaster. But outdoors, I see all these hopeful signs of spring, trees with pink and white blossoms and delicate green leaves, brilliantly yellow daffodils and forsythia, tulips with still-unopened buds.

This week’s Torah and haftarah readings combine isolation and stigmatization with reintegration into the community and hope for the future.  Metzora, even more than Tazria, which we read last week, is one of those Torah portions that make you want to turn the pages really quickly.  But its very high “ewww!” factor distracts the reader from what are profound teachings about community and stigma.

Last week, we learned how the priest diagnoses tzara’at, the skin ailment formerly thought to be leprosy, the isolation of the person who has it (the metzora) and how the metzora is found to be ready for ritual purification. We also learned that tzara’at can occur in cloth or leather, and this week we see it can also occur in houses; these are red or green streaks, probably some kind of mold or fungus.

This week, we read the details of the purification of the metzora. This involves a ritual with 2 birds, cedar wood, crimson thread, and hyssop, with sprinklings of a blood-water mixture. The metzora launders his clothing, shaves off all his hair (even eyebrows), and immerses in water. He stays outside his tent, though now in the camp, for 7 days. The laundering, shaving, and immersion are repeated on the 7th day, and on the 8th, now ritually pure, he offers sacrifices.

After the section on house tzara’at, we learn about ritual impurity and purification in connection with genital discharges: male and female, normal and abnormal.  Details are in Chapter 15.

A key verse concerning Tazria and Metzora is 15:31: “You shall separate the Children of Israel from their contamination; and they shall not die as a result of their contamination if they contaminate My Tabernacle that is among them.”  You have to be ritually pure to go to the Tabernacle (later, the Temple) and offer sacrifices, which is a major demonstration of being part of the community.  Since there is no Temple now, what remains active are the restraints on sexual activity derived from Chapter 15.

It is not surprising that a society will define certain people as “unclean” and “worthy of” separation or exile.  In some cases, quarantine may be warranted for medical reasons.  But often, even if what causes the “uncleanliness” is just a medical condition, stigma attaches to it.  Surely the victim must somehow have deserved this?  Tzara’at was later linked by the rabbis to slander.  Similar conclusions that the community or individual “deserved this” accompanied the Black Death in the mid-14th century, AIDS in our own day, and mental illness for millennia.  Even when a stigmatizing condition is vanquished or managed, the stigma might not go away, and the person may still be an outcast.  Someone who is treated successfully for, say, depression or ADHD does not get a Certificate of Sanity.

Yet separation is not the focus of Metzora, but rehabilitation. There is a well-defined process with a clear, official ending, after which stigma is absent. Rabbi Leonard A. Sharzer, MD, associate director for bioethics of the Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies, JTS, wrote in 2011, in Metzora: Disease or Dis-ease? “In the end, however, Parashat Metzora is less about separation, and more about reentry and reintegration. … If there is a lesson for us in this parashah, it is to remind us of the need for constant vigilance and for developing an awareness of our discomfort with difference, and of the way we marginalize others and often even stigmatize ourselves. It is not about the disease of the Metzora as much as it is about the dis-ease of the rest of us. Above all, we are reminded of the need to correct the injustice of the stigmatization we are all too quick to inflict.”

This is Shabbat HaGadol, the final Sabbath before Passover (Pesach).  Traditionally, it was one of only two times during the year that the rabbi gave a sermon. This one concerned the laws of Passover and was very long. There’s no additional scroll this week, but there is a special haftarah, Malachi 3:4-24.  It looks toward “the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord.” This will be a time of wholeness and reconciliation which will come only after Elijah specifically reconciles parents and children.

Next week: Passover!

Shabbat shalom,
Irene

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A540334

Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness [Judaicized version, sent out in 2005]

A rabbi, apparently fed up with all the excuses given over the years to why people don’t go to services, included this list in the synagogue bulletin.

TEN REASONS WHY I NEVER WASH:

1.       I was forced to as a child.
2.        People who wash are hypocrites — they think they are cleaner than everybody else.
3.        There are so many different kinds of soap, I can’t decide which is best.
4.        I used to wash, but I got bored and stopped.
5.        I wash only on special occasions, like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
6.        None of my friends wash.
7.        I’ll start washing when I get older and dirtier.
8.        I can’t spare the time.
9.        The bathroom is never warm enough in winter or cool enough in summer.
10.        People who make soap are only after your money.

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http://www.jokes4us.com/peoplejokes/shavingjokes.html

Shaving Jokes

  • Who shaves 10 times a day and still has a beard? The barber.
  • What do you call a group of men waiting for a shave? A barber-queue.
  • Dear Disney, why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?
  • Dear shaving commercials, stop shaving hairless legs. If you want to impress me shave a gorilla.
  • I mustache you a question, but I’ll shave it for later.
  • Little Willie asked his mother: “Mamma, don’t soldiers ever go to heaven?” “Of course they do!” protested his mother. “What makes you ask?” “There are so many soldiers with beards, but I never saw any pictures of angels with beards.” “Oh, that’s because most men who go to Heaven get there by a close shave.”

When I went to Boston for grad school, winter was continuously cold for several months. Since legs were covered up, there was no reason to shave them. I remember one of my roommates referred to our very infrequent shaves as “mowing the lawn.” IGP

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https://www.cybersalt.org/clean-jokes/signs-you-are-in-for-a-long-sermon

Top Ten Signs You Are in For A Long Sermon

10. There’s a case of bottled water beside the pulpit in a cooler.
9. The pews have camper hookups.
8. You overhear the pastor telling the sound man to have a few (dozen!) extra tapes on hand to record today’s sermon.
7. The preacher has brought a snack to the pulpit.
6. The preacher breaks for an intermission.
5. The bulletins have pizza delivery menus.
4. When the preacher asks the deacon to bring in his notes, he rolls in a filing cabinet.
3. The choir loft is furnished with La-Z-Boys.
2. Instead of taking off his watch and laying it on the pulpit, the preacher turns up a four-foot hour-glass.

And the Number One Sign You Are in For A Long Sermon

  1. The minister says, “You’ll be out in time to watch the Super Bowl” but it’s only September!

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https://www.coolpun.com/topic/funny+laundry

tph socks

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https://www.chabadnaples.com/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/715364/jewish/Jokes.htm

An Orphan

In the 1970’s, a Russian school inspector is questioning the children. He points to one of the boys and says, “Who is your father?”
The boy replies, “The Soviet Union.”
He then asks, “Who is your mother?”
“The communist party,” came the reply.
“And what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I want to be a Stankhanovite worker for the glory of the state and the party.”

The inspector then points to one of the girls and asks, “Who is your father?”
The girl answers, “The Soviet Union.”
“Who is your mother?” — “The communist party.”
“And what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“A heroine of the Soviet Union raising lots of children for the state and party.”

The inspector looks round and sees a Jewish boy tucked away at the back trying to look inconspicuous. He points and says, “What’s your name?”
The boy replies, “Mendel Abramovitch.”
“Who is your father?”
“The Soviet Union.”
“Who is your mother?”
“The communist party.”
“And what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Mendel replies, “An orphan.”

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https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/rehabilitation

Quotes about Rehabilitation

Restorative justice is not a replacement of retributive justice, but a complement. It seeks the rehabilitation of the wrongdoer and the repair of the victim’s injury. Lewis B. Smedes

The subject of criminal rehabilitation was debated recently in City Hall. It’s an appropriate place for this kind of discussion because the city has always employed so many ex-cons and future cons. Mike Royko

We have developed our own approach towards rehabilitating people, involving psychological rehabilitation, social rehab within families and of our Religious Rehabilitation Group. Tony Tan

Many years ago, when I was working on Broadway, I used to go to a drug rehabilitation centre on Sundays. I didn’t lecture them against the perils of drug-taking; I gave them drama therapy. Diana Rigg

 

 

 

 

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Torah Portion Humor – Tazria (Lev.12:1 – 13:59), Shabbat Rosh Chodesh (Num. 28:9 – 15), Shabbat HaChodesh (Ex. 12:1 – 20)

This week’s Torah portion, Tazria, delves further into causes of ritual impurity, not generally one’s favorite topic. At least it’s short.  It concerns ritual impurity associated with childbirth and with tzara’at, a skin affliction, formerly incorrectly identified with leprosy (Hansen’s disease), that the rabbis associate with slander.

It’s also Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, so there’s a second scroll reading, Numbers 28:9-15, about the prescribed new moon sacrifices.

But wait – there’s more!

There’s a third reading, Exodus 12:1-20, for Shabbat HaChodesh, the Sabbath of THE month, i.e., Nisan, which occurs on or right before (this year, on) Rosh Chodesh Nisan.  It’s the 4th of the four special Shabbatot with special readings in preparation for Passover.  The haftarah (Ezekiel 45:16-46:18, 45:18-46:13 for Sephardim), is a vision of Passover observance in messianic times.

That’s right, 3 readings from 3 books in 3 scrolls.

Back to Tazria an ritual purity.  The word “pure” evokes such nice images (setting aside “racial purity” of course): freshness.  cleanliness, innocence, simplicity, truth, a lack of contamination. Ritual purity and impurity mainly affect one’s ability to go to the sanctuary and to join the community in eating certain sacrifices.  The ritual purity we deal with in the Torah is assumed.  That is, the normal state is purity, until that is disturbed in specified ways.  Further, Ritual impurity (tumah) is contracted by 1) contact with certain animal remains, 2) childbirth, 3) tzara’at, 4) genital discharges, and 5) contact with a human corpse.  Tazria deals with 2) and 3).

Childbirth is dealt with in Chapter 12, a mere 8 verses. For seven days after the birth, a woman who has a boy cannot go to the sanctuary or have relations with her husband, and she makes objects impure by sitting or lying on them.  On the eighth day, the boy is circumcised.  After the first seven days, she is impure, but only with respect to the sanctuary, for an additional thirty-three days.  Then she brings a burnt offering and a sin offering to the sanctuary, the priest makes atonement for her, and she is declared “clean.”  The process is the same if the baby is a girl, except there is no circumcision and the time is doubled from seven and thirty-three to fourteen and sixty-six, a total of eighty days.

It is unclear, even to the rabbinic commentators over the centuries, why the time of impurity is doubled for a girl. Baruch Levine in the JPS Commentary on Leviticus suggests that the doubling reflects the daughter’s potential fertility; the mother, who bleeds, has produced someone else who will eventually bleed and give birth.  This seems to me the most reasonable explanation, though not entirely satisfactory.  Levine also notes that requiring a sin offering doesn’t mean the woman is at fault, just impure.  The sin offering then is to remove this impurity and restore her access to the sanctuary.  The burnt offering is then her first act of worship on being restored fully to the community.

The tumah associated with childbirth leads to profound considerations of life and death.  I wrote in 1997 (Sisterhood Shabbat 1997 Comments on Tazria), “In both the original text and the commentaries on this chapter, we find marked ambivalence.  …  The baby is ritually clean, and God has commanded that we be fruitful and multiply, and barrenness is regarded as a great sorrow.   Yet the mother is considered impure enough to be ritually separated from the community for several weeks ….  In Midrash Rabbah, the rabbis express awe at the miracles of conception, pregnancy, birth, and nursing and also disgust at what one rabbi refers to as nauseating substances that accompany the birth.” Childbirth, places in opposition miracle and filth, heaven and earthiness, purity (the baby) and impurity (the woman, as she recovers), life and death, resulting in the strongly positive and strongly negative vibes that come through in the rabbinical texts. 

The rest of the portion deals with diagnosing tzara’at, which must be done by a priest.  This concerns skin discoloration, odd white or yellow hairs, unexplained baldness, skin discolorations that are white or white streaked with red, and cloth or leather that has red or green streaks.  Purification requirements are given in next week’s portion.

An early Shabbat shalom,
Irene

(This is being sent out early in the week for scheduling reasons.)

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tph bargaining

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tph suspicious moles

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http://pregnancyhumor.com/blog/2013/07/31/is-it-ever-appropriate-to-ask-a-woman-if-shes-pregnant-cartoon/

tph asking-woman-if-shes-pregnant

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http://jokes.cc.com/funny-news—politics/4yhuzg/senate-slander

SENATE SLANDER

A member of the United States Senate, known for his hot temper and acid tongue, exploded one day in mid-session and began to shout, “Half of this Senate is made up of cowards and corrupt politicians!”

All the other Senators demanded that the angry member withdraw his statement or be removed from the remainder of the session.

After a long pause, the angry member acquiesced. “OK,” he said, “I withdraw what I said. Half of this Senate is NOT made up of cowards and corrupt politicians!”

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Quotes about Purity

Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind. Leonardo da Vinci

Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature. Thomas a Kempis

There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it. Unknown

An all-white space has a purity that is refreshing and serene. Mary Helen Bowers

It is astonishing what force, purity, and wisdom it requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods. Margaret Fuller

 

 

 

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