Va’era (Exodus 6:2-9:35)

[Nobody answered my spoiler quiz from last week!  So if you want the answers, or to supply answers, you’ll have to email me.]

This week, we get deeper into our story.  The Lord reassures Moses and Aaron after their initial meeting with Pharaoh (Yes, I’ve really heard the Israelites’ suffering, I really will free them, etc.), and, after a textural pause in which their yichus (pedigree, parentage) is presented,  provides a little more “signs and wonders” training  . They go to meet with Pharaoh, where Aaron’s staff turns into a serpent and swallows the serpents the Egyptian magicians’ staffs had turned into.  And we get plagues 1 through 7, which are readily identifiable from the jokes, etc. below.  There are lots of analyses out there – plagues in groups of three, who carries them out, when are there warnings, can these be explained as natural phenomena, etc., etc.   In recent years, I have also seen kits of little toys representing the plagues to keep the little ones amused during the Passover seder.  Anyhow, with the frog plague (#2), Pharaoh starts negotiating – get rid of them and I’ll let you go sacrifice – but reneges.  Two plagues later, he offers to let them go into the wilderness to sacrifice, but not far away, and then reneges.  Three plagues after that, with Egypt largely in ruins and Pharaoh’s own magicians and courtiers begging him to give in, the same thing happens.  

Why plagues?  It’s not simply to punish the Egyptians for their treatment of the Israelites.  These extraordinary, unforgettable, stunning happenings make the point, that the Lord is God and is all-powerful, so emphatically in order to impress the Israelites as much as the Egyptians and the neighboring countries.  And the people are emotionally beaten down (6:9), so this grand display (I’m thinking FIREWORKS) should also raise their spirits.

Next week, the culmination of the Exodus saga.

Shabbat shalom,

What do vampires cross the sea in?
Blood vessels

A fellow walked into a doctor’s office and the receptionist asked him what he had.
He said, “Shingles.”
So she took down his name, address, medical insurance number and told him to have a seat.

A few minutes later a nurse’s aid came out and asked him what he had.
He said, “Shingles.”
So she took down his height, weight, a complete medical history and told him to wait in the examining room.

Ten minutes later a nurse came in and asked him what he had.
He said, “Shingles.”
So she gave him a blood test, a blood pressure test, an electrocardiogram, told him to take off all his clothes and wait for the doctor.

Fifteen minutes later the doctor came in and asked him what he had.
He said, “Shingles.”
The doctor said, “Where?”
He said, “Outside in the truck. Where do you want them?”


Frog Joke

A frog telephoned the Psychic Hotline and was told, “You are going to
meet a beautiful young woman who will want to know everything about
you.” The frog said, “That’s great! Will I meet her at a party, or
what?” “No,” said the psychic, “Next term–in her biology class.”

The Wizard

So there’s this Wizard who worked in a factory. Everything was satisfactory except that certain miscreants, taking advantage of his good nature, would steal his parking spot.

This continued until he put up the following sign:

“This parking space belongs to the Wizard. Violators will be toad.”


“Time’s fun when you’re having flies.”
   — Kermit the Frog


Selected from: HeadLiceCanBeFun!

What did the head lice say to the other head lice?    
You wait here – I’ll go on a head!

What do you call a lice on a bald person?    

What is the most famous battle in the history of head-lice ?    
The Charge of the Lice Brigade

What does a louse need to drive?            
A License

Why is the comedian with head lice more successful than all the other comedians?      
He’s got a million of ‘em!

What did the head lice say when their host went to the barber?    “There goes the neighborhood.”

Where do head lice plant  their crops?    
In corn rows!

What did the mother louse say to her misbehaving little nits?   “Don’t make me get the comb!”


William H. Swanson’s 33 (plus a few) Homespun Fly Jokes (selected)

3. What do you call a fly without wings?
A walk.

12.  What goes “Snap, crackle, and pop?”
A firefly with a short circuit!

15. Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.
Don’t say that, sir. Everyone will want one.

19. Two male flies are buzzing around, cruising for good-looking females. One spots a real cutie sitting on a pile of cow manure and dives down towards her. “Pardon me?” he asks, turning on his best charm, “but is this stool taken?”

29. Waiter, there’s a fly in my butter.
No there isn’t.
I tell you there is a fly in my butter!
And I tell you, there isn’t – it isn’t a fly, it’s a moth, and it isn’t butter, it’s margarine – So there!

What’s this spider doing in my soup?
I think he’s trying to catch the fly, sir.


Cow Jokes

Why does a milking stool have only three legs?
Because the cow has the udder.

A lady from the city and her traveling companion were riding the train through Vermont when she noticed some cows.
“What a cute bunch of cows!” she remarked.
“Not a bunch, herd”, her friend replied.
“Heard of what?”
“Herd of cows.”
“Of course I’ve heard of cows.”
“No, a cow herd.”
“What do I care what a cow heard. I have no secrets to keep from a cow!”


Leisure, Pleasure and Healing [Hardcover], pp. 236-237

Dvorjetski (Author), E. (Author)

This book deals with leisure, pleasure and healing at the spas in the eastern Mediterranean basin since the biblical era throughout the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and early Muslim periods.

The ancient sages were aware of the soothing and medicinal powers of mineral hot springs (both to immerse in and to drink) at least back to the time of the Second Temple.  One well-known spa at Hammei-Tiberias even found its way into the Talmud and Midrash, mainly concerning when one may bathe in it.  Sufferers from skin ailments, including boils, used the spa.  Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel described walking to Tiberias and, on the road, meeting a scholar who said there are identified 24 types of skin disease, but only one of these is harmful to sexual intercourse.  What this had to do with Rabban Gamaliel’s walking to Tiberias is not explained, though one can presume that he met people suffering from boils on the way,  presumably to be cured by the springs at Tiberias.


You might be a redneck if…
Hail hits your house and you have to take it to the body shop for an estimate.


From 2006:

My most memorable hailstorm came on the day of my high school graduation.  The tradition was, and still is, that the graduates wear white dresses (it was a girls’ school) rather than cap and gown.  It was understood they would be reasonably modest; a few years earlier, each girl had to come in with her dress and kneel in front of the vice principal, and if the hem did not touch the ground, it was too short.  My class was spared that.  We also each got a bouquet of red carnations.  Anyhow, we must have looked weird riding the subway on a weekday morning, all dressed in white, but somehow, I managed to keep the dress clean.  After we graduated, picked up our yearbooks, and collected the obligatory signatures, I took the subway and trolley back home.  However, a big storm came up, and I was pelted with hailstones as I ran the two blocks home from the trolley.  My yearbook, diploma, and I were all soaked.  Luckily, there was no real damage.  If fact, the diploma dried out to have a wavy look like old parchment.

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