Yom Kippur (Lev. 16:1-34; Num. 29:7-11; Lev. 18)

        I’m usually thinking of something philosophically BIG to write about here as Yom Kippur approaches, like self-denial (2008), sin (2009), and Santa Claus (2010).  This year, I am so caught up in “small” things (how am I going to finish several office action responses and actually file some patent applications this month with all the holidays, who’s going to care for the cats while we’re on vacation in November, how on earth can I straighten up enough to enable someone to come in to care for the cats while we’re on vacation, how can I schedule Skype sessions with my daughter who’s in Hanoi for the year, etc.) that it is hard to think, period, let alone to think BIG.  Maybe next year.

         Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) begins tonight with an evening service highlighting Kol Nidre, a legal formula in Aramaic cancelling vows between a person and the Lord ; a brief history is at http://www.jta.org/news/article/2011/09/22/3088853/the-surprising-appeal-of-kol-nidre (The timing is unfortunate this year for Jewish Phillies or Cardinals fans, coinciding with a pivotal playoff game, whence the first two humor items below.)  Yom Kippur is a solemn fast day, but not mournful.  We spend most of the day in synagogue, praying for forgiveness with increasing intensity as sundown approaches and our fates are sealed (more or less) in the Book of Life for the coming year. The morning Torah readings deal with the High Priest’s duties on Yom Kippur  (Leviticus 16:1-34) and the Yom Kippur sacrifices (Numbers 29:7-11). The haftarah, Isaiah 57:14 – 58:14, in contrast, emphasizes that empty ritual is, well, empty unless it creates an awareness that leads to action (e.g., being hungry should inspire you to feed the indigent).  In ancient days, there was a pivotal moment when the High Priest came out of the Holy of Holies at which the Israelites were pronounced free from sin, and it was a time for announcing engagements, which is why the afternoon Torah reading, about forbidden sexual relationships, was chosen (Leviticus 18:1-30).  The afternoon Haftarah is the book of Jonah because of its focus on the efficacy of repentance.  Last year (https://igplotzk.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/yom-kippur-lev-161-34-num-297-11-lev-181-30/ ), I included some links to interpretations of Jonah as proto-neoconservative satire and/or slapstick.  This year, my friend Stanley sent me (thanks, Stanley) a novel interpretation of Jonah as a symphony ( “Jonah and the Music of Yom Kippur,” Michael Carasik, http://www.jewishideasdaily.com/content/module/2011/10/6/main-feature/1/jonah-and-the-music-of-yom-kippur ).

        While I have tried not to offend any of you in these weeklies over the past year, I recognize that it’s very difficult to not offend someone when writing about religious matters, Bible interpretations, or comedy, let alone all three.  But I do not mean to offend, and I ask your forgiveness if I have done so.  I also apologize for errors, both of content and typographical, and for an increased reliance on reruns.  I will continue to try to do better this year.

G’mar chatimah tovah* , an easy fast, and Shabbat shalom,

Literally: A good final sealing
Idiomatically: May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for Good




Top Ten Reasons Judaism is indebted to the game of Baseball

seth Posted: 07-15-2008(Viewed 1961 times)

10. Without baseball metaphors, rabbis would have to rely solely on humor to connect to their congregants 9. The most popular question asked in yeshivas worldwide: Who won the game?

8.  Baseball hats have hidden 90% of the World’s Chillul Hashems committed

7. Taught the world to take off work for Yom Kippur (why Koufax didn’t also mention Chol Hamoed is beyond me!?)

6. Shabbat Suits would just be plain dark, if not for the enhancement of the sharp Yankee Pinstripe

5. Keeps the yeshiva boys busy during the summer (preventing them from getting to 1st base)

4. It can bring all denominations together: Heck, i think it worked in “The Chosen”

3. Allows for all Jewish sizes (lanky, balding, cholent belly, nebbish) to fit right in

2. Investing 101: Work in diamonds, Buy commodities (Peanuts & crackerjacks), Save baseball cards

1. Appreciation of both stands on 2 things: 1) Study the statistics of the past  & 2) Practice



Oldie but highly pertinent  (slightly edited):

Sidney calls Rabbi Levy.
He says, “Rabbi, I know tonight is Kol Nidre night, but tonight the Phillies are in the playoffs. Rabbi, I’m a life long Phillies fan. I’ve got to watch the Phillies game on TV.”
Rabbi Levy replies, “Sidney, that’s what video recorders are for.”
Sidney is surprised. “You mean I can tape Kol Nidre”?



Super Bowl vs. Yom Kippur  (continuing my sports kick, and given that the Super Bowl never occurs anywhere near Yom Kippur)David Mamet said that there are really only two true religious holidays in America – The Oscars and the Super Bowl. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the Super Bowl compares with Yom Kippur, Judaism’s most holy day. NOTE: Yom Kippur = (YK): The Super Bowl = (SB)

YK – Millions of Jews attend services on this one day of the year.
SB – Millions of people watch football on this one day of the year.

YK – Proceeded by ten days of repentance, while you learn about the faults of people around you.
SB – Proceeded by two weeks of hype while you learn about the faults of obscure athletes.

YK – Fasting which purifies the soul.
SB – Snacking which clogs the arteries.

YK – Overpriced tickets.
SB – Overpriced tickets.

YK – Key prayers repeated and repeated and repeated.
SB – Key plays repeated and repeated and repeated in slow motion,

YK – Kol Nidre.
SB – Pre-Game Show.

YK – Carrying of any money is forbidden.
SB – Billions of dollars are gambled.

YK – Everyone wants to find out who shall be inscribed in the Book of Life.
SB – Everyone wants to find out who’ll be inscribed in the NFL Record Book

YK – Five services starting at 9:30 AM and ending at sunset.
SB – Pre-Game Show, followed by Game, followed by Post-Game Show, starting at 9:30 AM and ending at 10:00 PM .

YB – Dropping the Torah scroll = a 40 day fast.
SB – Dropping the football = 40 years as Super Scapegoat.

YK – Wearing leather shoes is forbidden.
SB – Holding a pigskin is encouraged.

YK – Wail in agony because of your misdeeds.
SB – Wail in agony because of the referee’s miscalls.

YK – The fast is broken with a glass of wine.
SB – The game is ended by pouring Gatorade over the head of the winning coach.

YK – Follows New Year.
SB – Follows New Year.

YK – Ends with a final blast of the shofar and a lame benediction by a Rabbi.
SB – Ends with the pop of champagne corks and a lame phone call from the President.

This article is Copyright 1992, 1995 by Noel Rappin and Ross Garmil. All Rights reserved. Do not reprint without this notice attached. Orignally printed in GRAVITY: The Humor Magazine of Brandeis University, Volume 3, Issue 1, December 1992.


Food for the Fast [lightly edited]

Rabbi to congregant: “Yes I understand that McDonalds calls it “fast food”…but you STILL can’t eat it on Yom Kippur!”


— Douglas Matook

En route to church to make his first confession, my nervous seven-year-old grandson asked me what he could expect.
“Confession is where you tell all the bad things you’ve done to the priest,” I told him.

He looked relieved. “Good. I haven’t done anything bad to the priest.”


Leviticus 16: Twas The Day Of Atonement [if you’d like something a little more rhythmic than the actual Torah reading]

        Posted by JBen in Blog and tagged with Aaron, atonement, day of atonement, humor, Leviticus, Poetry, yom kippur September 29, 2011

Twas the Day of Atonement, and all through the camp
Only Aaron was stirring, dressed like a champ.
He drew near the tent with his bull and his ram,
And a glistening butcher knife clasped in his hand.

The people entrusted two goats to his care,
In hopes that forgiveness soon would be theirs.
One would be slaughtered but one would escape
Bearing our trespasses, sins, and mistakes.

He casted the lots and arose such a clatter,
The goats had been chosen. It settled the matter.
Then toward the bull he turned in a flash
Tore open the jugular vein with a slash.

Now he was atoned for and free to proceed
Into the tent and we bid him Godspeed.
When, what to my wondering eyes should unfold,
But a handful of incense and a censer of coal.

From the bull and the goat, he gathered some blood,
And entered the tent as the law said he should.
We waited and waited but heard not a word,
Could Aaron survive in the tent of the Lord?

But much to our joy and utter delight,
He came out alive back into the light.
‘To the Altar!” He said, looking new and reborn
And put more of the blood on each of the horns

With flicks of his fingers in motions so small
He sprinkled the altar, seven times in all.
Now it was atoned for, hallowed and cleansed
From all our uncleanliness. All our offense

And then, to the goat, he turned and he set
Each hand on its head. You know, like a pet
He mumbled some words I couldn’t make out
And passed off the goat to a man heading out.

The goat was led out to the wilderness where
It would wander alone, our sin forced to bear.
The man will return but first he must bathe
To make himself clean. Do you think he will shave?

Then Aaron returned from a bath of his own
And readied more off’rings, us now to atone.
The fat of the animals to smoke were then turned
While the skin and the flesh were taken and burned

On day number ten in month number seven
The smoke of atonement rose up to heaven.
But Aaron exclaimed, ‘ere he walked out of sight,
“Forgiveness for all and all are made right!”



Forgiveness Quotes
The secret of forgiving everything is to understand nothing.
George Bernard Shaw

Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness, or else forgiving another.
 Jean-Paul Sartre

There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.
Josh Billings

The Book of Jonah on One Foot
        by S. Galena Posted: 07-11-2006(Viewed 1453 times)

Jonah Runs away  
Whale: Gulp
3 days later

Whale: Burp

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