I like to set aside vacation days so I can take Fridays off in the summer for a combination of miscellaneous errands, chores, and goofing off. Kind of like this week’s double Torah portion, Mattot-Mase’ei. This morning did not start well. I woke up with a headache, thought my purse had been stolen after I left it at the local bakery, and took a short cut to an errand that turned out to be a long cut. But I’ve noticed that when 3 things go awry first thing, the rest of the day turns out OK. So far, so good: my headache is gone, my purse was found intact, and the errands are done. And how is this like this week’s Torah reading?
The reading ends the book of Numbers, not very grandly, but with a combination of getting some miscellaneous chores and errands done (see?) and finishing up the final preparations for entrance into the Promised Land (OK, that doesn’t parallel my goofing off). And at the end, despite a few bumps, it looks like things are finally turning out OK for the Israelites.
Mattot begins with a section on vows and commitment, including a rule that a husband or father can nullify vows made by the wife or daughter; however, widows and divorcees are totally responsible for their own vows. The war, against Midian, announced in last week’s reading, is carried out. Bil’am (Balaam) is killed. The war is a combination of massacre and looting; in fact, Moses is angry that the army initially let the women and children live instead of only young female virgins. This is another one of those troubling episodes that is really difficult for us to explain or justify. Mattot ends with a deal made with the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh, who don’t want to cross over the Jordan because where they are looks really good for grazing cattle. Moses, who is probably gnashing his teeth at their casually turning down the one thing he can’t have, allows it as long as they send troops ahead to help conquer Canaan.
Mase’ei includes a summary of the Israelites’ itinerary for the 40 years since they left Egypt, a mini history lesson for this new generation. The boundaries of the Promised Land are set. The tribal chieftains are named. 48 towns are set aside for the Levites and 6 “cities of refuge” are established to protect those guilty of manslaughter (not murder). Finally, Zelophehad’s daughters show up again because a wrinkle has come up regarding inheriting their father’s portion (legal decisions always generate wrinkles afterwards): what happens to that land if they marry outside the tribe? It’s decided that they should marry within the tribe (according to the Talmud, this was just advice, not a command), and indeed, they marry their cousins.
We are now in the midst of a semi-mourning season, the 3 weeks before Tisha B’Av (see, e.g., Rituals and Customs Associated with Tisha B’av, “The Three Weeks” and Tu B’Av ), and the haftarah is the second of the three Haftarot of Rebuke, Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, 4:1-2 (those last few verses vary), which picks up where last week’s ended and rebukes Israel for disloyalty to the Lord. It’s also the second of 10 haftarot between now and Rosh Hashanah that are connected to the season, rather than the Torah reading. More on that next week.
Arizona Desert Tour Joke
We hired a tour guide to give us a tour of the deserts in Arizona. After we stopped for dinner, we realized we were really lost. “I thought you said you know Arizona deserts in your sleep!” we yelled at the guide. “I do!” he replied. “But I think we are in Mexico now!!!”
During the weeks before Amy’s wedding, she was terribly anxious about making some mistakes at the ceremony. The minister reassured her several times, pointing out that the service was not difficult and she will do just fine.
“All you have to remember,” he said, “is that when you enter the church you walk up the AISLE. The groom and best man will be waiting before the ALTAR. Then I shall request the congregation to sing a HYMN… then we shall get on with the ceremony. All you have to remember is the order in which those things happen and you can’t go wrong.”
The happy day finally arrived, and the bridegroom waited nervously for his bride to appear.
When she arrived and stood alongside him, he heard her quietly repeating to herself, “Aisle, altar, hymn, aisle, altar, hymn.” Or, as it sounded to him, “I’ll alter him!”
Parshas Mattos on 1 Foot
by S. Galena Posted: 07-09-2006(Viewed 873 times)
Reuven/Gad/.5 Menashe: Let’s move to the suburbs
Jews begin tradition of moving to the suburbs
Parshas Maasei on 1 Foot
by S. Galena Posted: 07-09-2006(Viewed 873 times)
Jews: Are we there yet?
“You seem to have more than the average share of intelligence for a man of your background,” sneered the lawyer at a witness on the stand.
“If I wasn’t under oath, I’d return the compliment,” replied the witness.
10 Famous People Who Married Their Cousins
In some places, marriage to the first cousin is illegal[my great-aunt and her first cousin had to get married in New Jersey instead of Pennsylvania] – in others it is advised! Through history there have been many famous people who, for reasons known only to them, have married within the family. This is a list of 10 of the most famous people who have done this. [a bit abridged – photos and more details are at the URL. Also, I have no idea what the 10 through 1 designations mean, if anything.]
10 Jesse James
Jesse James married his first cousin Zerelda “Zee” Mimms, who was named after Jesse’s own mother. They had two children and remained married until Jesse’s death in 1882 at the age of 34.
9 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Although they had met as children, they became reacquainted after a dinner at the White House in 1902 held by Eleanor’s uncle and Franklin’s fifth cousin, President Teddy Roosevelt.
8 Johann Sebastian Bach
In 1707 Johann Sebastian Bach married his second cousin on his father’s side, Maria Barbara Bach. She died in 1720.
7 H. G. Wells
H.G. Wells married his first cousin Isabel Mary Wells, whom he left after only three years. Wells was an English writer most famous today for his science fiction novels.
6 Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson married his third cousin Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson in 1772. They had six children together. Martha died in 1782. Jefferson never remarried.
5 Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein married his second cousin Elsa in 1919, not too long after his divorce from his first wife Mileva. Elsa died in 1936. Albert never remarried.
4 Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin married his first cousin Emma Wedgwood. They had ten children before he died in 1882.
3 Edgar Allan Poe
At the age of 20 poet Edgar Allen Poe moved in with his aunt, uncle, and seven year old cousin Virginia in Baltimore. He fell in love with Virginia and they married when she was only thirteen. She died eighteen years later in 1847, and Poe died in 1849.
2 Jerry Lee Lewis
In 1957 Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13-year-old cousin Myra, which almost ended his career and caused him to move from rock to a more country style. They had two children and divorced in 1970.
1 Rudy Giuliani
Governor Rudy Giuliani married a woman who he thought to be his third cousin, Regina Peruggi, in 1968. It wasn’t until many years later that they realized that they were actually second cousins. They divorced in 1982.
A Texan is in a Wisconsin bar and is telling a dairy farmer how large his ranch in Texas is. He tells the farmer his ranch is so large that if he gets into his pick-up truck and drives all day, he would not reach the other border of his ranch.
The Wisconsin dairy farmer thinks for a minute and then responds,” I used to have a truck like that