Behukkotai (Leviticus 26:3 – 27:34)

Note to new readers from Facebook: The jokes follow the commentary.  The commentary exists to justify the jokes.

This week, we complete our annual reading of the book of Leviticus.  The portion starts with a statement of what will happen if the Israelites do or do not obey the Lord’s laws.  Prof. Ze’ev Falk interprets the “if you do” versus “if you don’t” thusly, as cited by R. Matthew Berkowitz of JTS in this week’s A Taste of Torah: ‘If you follow my laws,’—the intent of this opening phrase is even if you only follow part of my laws. For it is simply not possible that there are righteous people in the land who never transgress!’ However, the curses are unleashed on the people only if they spurn God’s laws and reject all of the commandments.  

The overall reward for following (at least some of) the law is this: “12 I will be ever present in your midst: I will be your God, and you shall be My people,” manifested by fruitfulness, security, peace, comfort, etc.. That takes 11 verses.  Then we read what happens if the Israelites don’t obey.   That’s the next 30 verses.  [These verses are  referred to as the minor Tochecha (“rebuke” or “warning”) and are traditionally chanted hurriedly and in an undertone.]  There are a couple of possible reasons for the difference in length: (1) The rewards don’t need much description and include things that often happen normally, while the punishments include visions of disaster that can only be imagined, therefore need detail.  (2) The punishments are described in such graphic detail to scare the heck out of the people and so get them to obey.  (3) Unlike the rewards, the punishments are described in successive stages; i.e., the Israelites are to be given chance after chance to obey.  It’s not a one-shot deal.  I wrote 3 years ago, “But the warnings are presented as, if you don’t obey me (26:4), here’s Punishment #1.  If you still don’t obey (26:18), here’s a worse Punishment #2.  And so on, up through Punishments #3, #4, and #5.   And the punishments increase in severity .  If the mentions of “sevenfold” in 26:18, 21, 24 and 28 are compounded, then the horrors described in Punishment #5 are 2,401 times as awful as those described in Punishment #1. Since Punishment #1 is  misery, illness, infertility, paranoia, and defeat, and Punishment #5 is cannibalism, desolation, ruin, utter destruction, and exile, I’d say that 2,401 is a fairly accurate multiplier.  More importantly, this communicates that, while the punishments get increasingly horrific, there is an opportunity for repentance and return to good behavior at every stage.  Even after the worst punishment, the Israelites will be remembered by the Lord, and they can atone, even while in exile.”   So we read in verses 26:44 and 45:  “Yet, even then, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or spurn them so as to destroy them, annulling My covenant with them: for I the Lord am their God. 45 I will remember in their favor the covenant with the ancients, whom I freed from the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God: I, the Lord.”  

Leviticus then concludes with valuation factors for pledges people would make toward the upkeep of the tabernacle.  You could pledge, say, the value of your house, or of a goat, or other items that would be assessed by the priest on a case by case basis.  You could also pledge the value of a person at least one month old; this was fixed and set by the age and sex of the pledge and correlated with ability to do physical labor, so least “valued” was a female child under 5 (3 shekels) and most, a man between 20 and 60 (50 shekels).

Finally, Sunday is Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day of the counting of the omer (a measure of barley), which began with the second day of Pesach and will end with Shavuot.  In the Hebrew alphabet, lamed=30 and gimel=3, whence “Lag” for 33.  The period between Pesach and Shavuot is traditionally a semi-mourning period (no weddings or other celebrations, no hair cuts, etc.) reputedly instigated by a plague that killed thousands of students of Rabbi Akiba (at the time of the revolt against the Romans), which is said to have lifted on Lag b’Omer.  Thus, it is particularly a students’ holiday, and the one day of festivity during the 49 days.  It is customary to have picnics and is also associated with bows and arrows (how Akiba’s students were said to be armed).

Shabbat shalom,

My daughter is your reward

Once there was a millionaire, who collected live alligators. He kept them in the pool in back of his mansion. The millionaire also had a beautiful daughter who was single. One day he decides to throw a huge party, and during the party he announces, “My dear guests . . . I have a proposition to every man here. I will give one million dollars or my daughter to the man who can swim across this pool full of alligators and emerge alive!”

As soon as he finished his last word, there was the sound of a large splash!! There was one guy in the pool swimming with all he could and screaming out of fear. The crowd cheered him on as he kept stroking as though he was running for his life. Finally, he made it to the other side with only a torn shirt and some minor injuries. The millionaire was impressed.

He said, “My boy that was incredible! Fantastic! I didn’t think it could be done! Well I must keep my end of the bargain. Do you want my daughter or the one million dollars?”

The guy says, “Listen, I don’t want your money, nor do I want your daughter! I want the person who pushed me in that water!”


Reward Quotes

The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.
 Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes (AmericanPoet, Lecturer and Essayist, 18031882)

The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it.
 John Ruskin quotes (EnglishWriter and Critic of art, architecture, and society, 18191900)

If I have caused just one person to wipe away a tear of laughter, that’s my reward.
 Victor Borge quotes (Danish born AmericanComedian and Pianist, 19092000)


Funny Warning Labels [selected]

In case you needed further proof that the human race is doomed through stupidity, here are some actual label instructions on consumer goods.

On Tesco’s Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom) —
‘Do not turn upside down.’
(well…duh, a bit late, huh!)

On Sainsbury’s peanuts —
‘Warning: contains nuts.’
(talk about a news flash)

On Boot’s Children Cough Medicine —
‘Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking
this medication.’
(We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we
could just get those 5 year-olds with head-colds off those bulldozers.)

On Marks &Spencer Bread Pudding —
‘Product will be hot after heating.’
(…and you thought????…)

On a Sears hairdryer —
Do not use while sleeping.
(That’s the only time I have to work on my hair.)

On a bag of Fritos —
You could be a winner! No purchase necessary.
Details inside.
(the shoplifter special?)

On a bar of Dial soap —
‘Directions: Use like regular soap.’
(and that would be???….)

On some Swanson frozen dinners —
‘Serving suggestion: Defrost.’
(but, it’s just a suggestion.)

On packaging for a Rowenta iron —
‘Do not iron clothes on body.’
(but wouldn’t this save me time?)

On Nytol Sleep Aid —
‘Warning: May cause drowsiness.’
(..I’m taking this because???…..)

On most brands of Christmas lights —
‘For indoor or outdoor use only.’
(as opposed to what?)


Punishment – Air Force Style

A US Air Force C-141 is scheduled to leave Thule Air Base, Greenland at midnight. During the pilot’s pre-flight check, he discovers that the latrine holding tank is still full from the last flight. So a message is sent to the base and an airman who was off duty is called out to take care of it.

This guy finds that the latrine pump truck has been left outdoors and is frozen solid, so he must find another one in the hangar, which takes even more time. He returns to the aircraft and is less than enthusiastic about what he has to do.
Nevertheless, he goes about the pumping job deliberately and carefully (and slowly) so as not to risk criticism later.

As he’s leaving the plane, the pilot stops him and says, “Son, your attitude and performance has caused this flight to be late and I’m going to personally see to it that you are not just reprimanded but punished”.

Shivering in the cold, his task finished, he takes a deep breath, stands up tall and says,
“Sir, with all due respect, I’m not your son; I’m an Airman in the United States Air Force. I’ve been in Thule, Greenland, for 11 months without any leave, and reindeers’ asses are beginning to look pretty good to me. I have one stripe; it’s two-thirty in the morning, the temperature is 40 degrees below zero, and my job here is to pump s*#t out of an aircraft.

Now, just exactly what form of punishment did you have in mind?”

Punishment Quotes

 “When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.

 Oscar Wilde quotes (IrishPoet, Novelist, Dramatist and Critic, 18541900)

Punishment – The justice that the guilty deal out to those that are caught.

 Elbert Hubbard quotes (American editor, publisher and writer, 18561915)

I am the punishment of God…If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.

 Genghis Khan quotes


Tie Score

It’s very uncommon for two archers to have the same score.  
Everyone knows that bow ties went out of style years ago.

Shot With a Bow

Lawyer: “Now, would you please tell the Jury the truth. Why did you shoot your husband with a bow and arrow?”

Defendant: “I didn’t want to wake up the children.”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s