Emor (Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23)

Sunday is Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day of the 49-day counting of the omer (a measure of barley), which is done from the second day of Pesach and to Shavuot.  “Lag” is alphabetical shorthand for 33: lamed=30 plus gimel=3.  The period between Pesach and Shavuot is traditionally a semi-mourning period (no weddings or other celebrations, no haircuts, etc.) reputedly commemorating a plague that killed thousands of students of Rabbi Akiba during the ca. 135 C.E. rebellion against Rome.  The plague is said to have lifted on Lag B’Omer, so the semi-mourning restrictions are lifted for that day (so guys, you can trim your beard Sunday and get a haircut).  It is particularly a students’ holiday, and it is customary to have picnics and bonfires. It is is also associated with archery, in imitation of how the students were armed.  See, e.g., http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Shavuot/In_the_Community/Counting_the_Omer/Lag_BaOmer.shtml for more.

Parashat Emor begins with instructions for the priests. They must be ritually pure to offer sacrifices, and the sacrifices must be without defects. The priests themselves also must be physically perfect (i.e., without the defects listed at 21:18-21) in order to serve, though they can still eat from the sacrificial meat given to the priests.  The priests cannot come in contact with the dead, except for certain close relatives; the High Priest, not even those.  Marriage to harlots and divorcees is out, and the High Priest can’t even marry a widow; his wife must be a virgin.

This Torah reading will look familiar to synagogue regulars, since we just read part of it last month, on the second day of Pesach.  The same part (Leviticus 22:26-23:44) is also read on the first and second days of Sukkot.  It is one of the sections that contains instructions for observing the Sabbath (again) and holidays, i.e., “the appointed seasons.”  A Torah reader can get a lot of mileage out of it.  Speaking of seasons, although spring in Wilmington was late this year, I am enjoying how it is unfolding.  Last year, there were roses in April; this, we’re not up to azaleas and lilacs yet, and we’ve had crocuses, forsythia, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, magnolia and cherry blossoms in an orderly progression, slow enough that we can enjoy each for more than a few days.

The portion also includes other priestly duties, like taking care of lighting the lamps at the Tent of meeting and setting out the loaves of showbread each Shabbat.  According to Rabbi Dalia Marx, at http://www.reformjudaism.org/emor-5 (thanks to the two of you who sent me this link), there are interesting parallels between these and the duties of a housewife preparing for Shabbat (baking challah, lighting the candles).  It may be the priests who bake the loaves (Lev. 24:5) or maybe any skilled baker (Ex. 35:10-13).  All this sets up a correspondence between a humble Israelite’s home and the Tabernacle, a dwelling place for the Lord.

Shabbat shalom,


Lev.23:33-44 is the first aliyah I ever chanted (“leyned”).  I was 17, and it was thanks to my mother.

A gentleman at another shul had recently suggested I learn how to leyn Torah.  A class was soon announced at my newly-merged, non-egalitarian shul.  My mother went to the rabbi and told him I was interested, to which the rabbi responded uncomfortably (this rabbi was generally uncomfortable with my mother), something like, “Lillian, we don’t allow women to read Torah here.”  My mother looked at him and said, oh so innocently, “Rabbi, she wants to learn.”  How could he say no to that?  So, I joined a class of about four 12-year-old boys and we debuted that spring.  I read that aliyah again many years later, at my son’s Bar Mitzvah, on the first day of Sukkot; he read the rest of the portion.



One day a man came home from work to find total chaos in the house. The kids were laying outside in the mud, still in their pajamas, and empty food boxes were on the kitchen counter.  When he opened the door, he found an even bigger mess: dishes on the counter, dog food spilled on the floor, a broken glass under the table and a pile of sand by the back door.  The family room was strewn with toys, and a lamp had been knocked over.

He headed up the stairs, stepping over toys, to look for his wife.  He was becoming worried that she might be ill or that something terrible had happened to her.  He found her in the bedroom still in bed with her pajamas on, reading a book.

She looked up at him, smiled and asked how his day had gone. He looked at her, bewildered, and asked, “What happened here today?”  She again smiled and answered, “You know, every day, you come home from work and ask me what I did today.”  “Yes” was his reply.  She answered, “Well, today, I didn’t do it!”


tph cinco de mayo

Top Ten Reasons Lag B’Omer & Cinco de Mayo Belong Together

by Seth. Posted: 05-02-2007(Viewed 1938 times)

10. Both holidays are creatively named by…the date.

9. Bow & arrow excellent way to shoot down piñatas

8. All those tacos, fajitas, quesadillas and enchiladas are salsa hot! Like a bonfire!

7. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai definitely grew a handlebar mexi-mustache in his pueblo cave

6. Fiesta bonfire BBQ features salsa cholent

5. Mariachi band can sure add some rhythm to the tune “Bar Yochai”

4. Our Mexican brethren whom are follicly endowed could use a good Upsherin (haircut)

3. Both celebrate the cessation of death….with L’chaims of Cerveza.

2. The Zohar sounds like a good Mexican Wine

1. Tequila Sunrise at Meron


Canadian seasons

In Canada we have two Seasons…six months of winter and six months of poor snowmobiling.



Choices for retirement (selections)
You can live in Phoenix, Arizona where…..
1. You are willing to park 3 blocks away because you found shade.
6. The 4 seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot, and ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!

You can Live in California where…
2. The fastest part of your commute is going down your driveway.
4. You drive your rented Mercedes to your neighborhood block party.

You can Live in New York City where…
2. You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from
Columbus Circle to Battery Park, but can’t find Wisconsin on a map.
language makes you multi-lingual.
6. You think eye contact is an act of aggression.

You can Live in Maine where…
4. Sexy lingerie is anything flannel with less than eight buttons.
5. The four seasons are: winter, still winter, almost winter, and

You can Live in the Deep South where…
2. “y’all” is singular and “all y’all” is plural.
3. “He needed killin’ ” is a valid defense.

You can live in Colorado where…
2. You tell your husband to pick up Granola on his way home and he
stops at the day care center.
4. The top of your head is bald, but you still have a pony tail.

You can live in the Midwest where…
1. You’ve never met any celebrities, but the mayor knows your name.
3. You have had to switch from “heat” to “A/C” on the same day.

AND You can live in Florida where…
3. Everyone can recommend an excellent dermatologist.
6. The 4 seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot, and snowbirds.


From 2011 and 2003:

http://www.bethrishon.org/Relligious/Rabbi/perfect.htm (and several other sites)

This is an oldie-but-goodie:


The results of a computerized survey indicate the perfect rabbi:

Preaches exactly fifteen minutes.
He* condemns sin, but never upsets anyone.
He works from 8:00 a.m. until midnight and is also a janitor.
He makes $50 a week, wears good clothes, buys good books, drives a good car, and gives about $50 weekly to the poor.
He is 28 years old and has preached 30 years.
He has a burning desire to work with teenagers and spends all his time with senior citizens.
The perfect rabbi smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work.
He makes 15 calls daily on congregational families, shut-ins, and the hospitalized and is always in his office when needed.

If your rabbi does not measure up, simply send this letter to six other synagogues that are tired of their rabbi too. Then bundle up your rabbi and send him to the synagogue at the top of the list. In one week you will receive 1,543 rabbis, and one of them will be perfect. Have faith in this letter. One congregation broke the chain and got its own rabbi back in less than three months.

*From IGP: There are still those who think the perfect rabbi is “he,” unfortunately.  I note below additional requirements for the perfect female rabbi:

She is 28 years old and has been married for 30 years.
She has 3 children and has never having taken any maternity leave (giving birth on her day off, back at the synagogue the next day).
She is a properly subservient leader.
She is learned and never shows it.
She dresses in a style that is neither too feminine, too masculine, nor too neutral.
She has a soft voice that can be heard in the back of the auditorium.
She is an emotional, giving person who never cries or touches you.
She is always available to her children and husband at home and spends 7 am to 1 am at the synagogue.

Additions to this list, or the top one, would be appreciated!

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