Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22), Shabbat Chazon, Tisha B’Av

This week: New book, old stories.

It is now the beginning of the eleventh month of the fortieth year.  The book of Deuteronomy (from the Greek for “second law,” I believe) is known in Hebrew as Devarim, “words” and there are a lot of them.  This is basically a month long sermon, from a guy who used to be “slow of tongue.”  First: reminders of the people’s past.  He starts not with Egypt, or the Exodus, or even the Ten Commandments, but with the beginning of their journey after the giving of the Ten Commandments.  Moses fills in items of particular pertinence to him, like the establishment of a hierarchical judicial system
Those who were children at the time of the Exodus may remember most of the journey, while the new generation may have only heard bits and pieces.  Yet Moses addresses the community as if they all had come out of Egypt (“You” did this).  This parallels what we are traditionally taught, that we must all feel as if we ourselves had come out of Egypt.  Moses moves pretty quickly to the debacle of the spies.  Then, he skips the next 38 years and describes their most recent exploits.  I’m always puzzled by the choice of topics and the relative weight given them in this portion.  Maybe next year I’ll remember to look up commentaries about that.

This Sabbath is called Shabbat Chazon (“vision,” as in vision of Isaiah) after the first word of the haftarah, Isaiah 1:1-27.  It is the last of the three Haftarot of Rebuke preceding Tisha B’Av (literally, the 9th of the month of Av) and is traditionally chanted at least in part using the melody that is used to chant the book of Lamentations (Eichah) on Tisha B’Av (this year, starting Monday night, July 19).  For more on the melody, there’s an article by Cantor Eugene Rosner at  .  Tisha B’Av commemorates all sorts of Jewish calamities, but particularly the destruction of the First and Second Temples.  It is known as the “black fast” in contrast to Yom Kippur (“white fast”), which is characterized by solemnity rather than mourning.  In addition to Lamentations, elegies (kinot, pronounced kee note) are read.  I totally ignored Tisha B’Av until it occurred while I was at Camp Galil.  There was a candlelight ceremony down by the pool, and I remember being so struck by everything that I was going to fast.  But a pre-camping trip exam the next morning indicated I was sick (fever, something growing on my throat), so they made me break my fast and stay home from the camp’s camping trip, which was just as well because they got rained out and had to come back early anyway.  Funny the things I remember.

An early Shabbat shalom,
My friend Stanley noted that many synagogues have special programs on Tisha B’Av, in which case, the guest is the kinot speaker.

And with that in mind, here are, in one person’s opinion at least, the

Top 10 Puns of All Time

The best puns of all time are:

1. A three legged dog walks into a saloon in the Old West. He slides up to the bar and announces: “I’m looking for the man who shot my paw.”

2. A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was a nurse said ‘No change yet’.

3. The butcher backed up into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

4. What’s the definition of a will? (It’s a dead giveaway).

5. She used to have a boyfriend with a wooden leg, but she broke it off.

6. Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I’ll show you A-flat minor.

7. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

8. Two silk worms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

9. A scientist doing a large experiment with liquid chemicals was trying to solve a problem when he fell in and became part of the solution.

10. Did you hear about the guy who emailed ten puns to friends, in the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh? Unfortunately, no pun in ten did.

—————————-  (The site also has links to Book-A-Minute Sci Fi/fantasy and Book-A-Minute Bedtime Stories)
The Ultra-Condensed Classic Books (just a few examples)

The Collected Work of Jane Austen
By Jane Austen
Ultra-Condensed by Christina Carlson and Peter da Silva

Female Lead
I secretly love Male Lead. He must never know.
Male Lead
I secretly love Female Lead. She must never know.
(They find out.)

The Canterbury Tales
By Geoffrey Chaucer
Ultra-Condensed by Brandon Sumner

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
A tale of a voyage long,
Of pilgrims headed ‘cross the land,
Nine and twenty strong.

The Knight was a most distinguished man,
The Skipper brave and sure,
The Doctor had a love for gold,
The Franklin was a whore.
The Franklin was a whore.

The travellers, they found an inn,
The Tabard was its name;
If not for the segues of the Host,
The story would be lame.
The story would be lame.

The pilgrims set out on their course,
St. Christopher they sought;
With the Wife of Bath,
The Miller too,
The Summoner,
And the Reeve,
The Pardoner, and the rest,
To Canterbury they go!

A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens
Ultra-Condensed by Samuel Stoddard and David J. Parker

Ebenezer Scrooge
Bah, humbug. You’ll work thirty-eight hours on Christmas Day, keep the heat at five degrees, and like it.
Ghost of Jacob Marley
Ebenezer Scrooge, three ghosts of Christmas will come and tell you you’re mean.
Three Ghosts of Christmas
You’re mean.
Ebenezer Scrooge
At last, I have seen the light. Let’s dance in the streets. Have some money.

By William Shakespeare
Ultra-Condensed by Adrien Arnold

Whine whine whine…To be or not to be…I’m dead.


Many of you are probably familiar with the Washington Post neologism contests for deriving new meanings  for old words (Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.) or making a new word by altering one letter of an existing word (Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the reader who doesn’t get it.)  But the Post also hosts weekly word-oriented invitationals, like the one below:

The Style Invitational By the Empress

Report from Week 858

in which we offered a list of very obscure words from the Oxford English Dictionary and asked you to produce fictional definitions for them. The real meanings — or one meaning per word — are listed here.

The winner of the Inker: Governail (actually a rudder): Pontius Pilate. (Mike Gips, Bethesda)

2. the winner of the book “The World’s Worst: A Guide to the Most Disgusting, Hideous, Inept, and Dangerous People, Places, and Things on Earth”: Effray: The invisible beam of pure malice emitted by a raised middle finger. (Andrea Kelly, Brookeville)

3 Exossation: Deterioration of the spine that often occurs following a wedding ceremony. (Kyle Hendrickson, Frederick)

4. Exerce: Minimal activity logged as a workout: “As I sat in the tub, I got some exerce by fighting the current as the bathwater drained.” (Drew Bennett, West Plains, Mo.)

Lexicontaminations: Honorable mentions [selected]

Ebulum: A single particle of ebullience. “His last ebulum disintegrated when the pretty woman replied, ‘Yes, I’d love to dance — do you know anyone?’ ” (Michael Reinemer, Annandale)

Ecod: Cache of the day. (Mike Gips)

Eglatere: A restaurant’s euphemism for an omelet that falls on the floor while being flipped. “The cook wiped off the dirt and droppings and sent the eglatere out to Table 3.” (Robert Inlow, Charlottesville)

Elatcha: An emotion that reporters feel when they gotcha. (Larry Yungk, Arlington)

Endship: Bogus camaraderie offered by someone who’s dumping you. “We can still have an endship.” (Russell Beland, Fairfax)

Festino: A zit that appears on the end of one’s nose at 6 p.m. on prom night. (Bob Reichenbach, Middletown, Del.)

Fibutor: The part of a Toyota engine, under the distributor cap, designed to obfuscate any errors in the electronic engine codes. (Peter Metrinko)

Governail: A fastener used to hold a politician’s feet to the fire. (Stephen Dudzik, Olney)

Hicket: A dense growth of rural necessities: “Surrounded by Bud’s Boot & Gun Emporium, A-1 Bail Bonds and a Waffle House, Thad realized too late he had driven straight into a hicket.” (Mark Gardiner, Faulkner, Md., just near those motels on Route 301)

Tom Davis’s Buzzword bingo

Tom Davis’s Buzzword Bingo is an excellent solution to long meetings. Just print up a few of these cards and take them with you to your next meeting. As your boss and coworkers utter these awful buzzwords, mark them off. When you get 5 in a row, be sure and stand up and yell “Bingo!” to announce the fact to all present at the meeting. We’ve been informed that this is an effective means of ensuring maximum meeting productivity.

This site is incredible!  You can generate many combinations for many bingo cards using canned buzzword lists (Generic BS Only or Generic BS & Tech BS) or create your own list for your own situation (work group, business, synagogue board meeting, etc.).  Here’s one using the Generic BS list:

Buzzword Bingo

state of the art
blows them away
do the right thing
horizontal market
bite the bullet
drop dead date
key players
reality check
take ______ off-line
scope out
stretch goal
sanity check
high-level vision
my people will talk to your people
incent (v.)
bleeding edge
impact (v.)
Five buzzwords in any row, column, or diagonal is “BINGO!”
Only mark off buzzwords uttered by others.
Baiting your coworker is allowed.
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