B’Haalotekha (Numbers 8:1 – 12:16)

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  My Uncle Charles (aka Roger) participated as a paratrooper in the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division.  I heard about his WWII exploits from my mother but unfortunately never discussed them with him.  They just didn’t come up.

The heroism and resoluteness of those soldiers are not characteristics we find among the Israelites at this stage.  I do empathize with their crankiness, however, being rather grouchy and tired today (catching up on post-Shavuot, pre-Shabbat chores).  So I hope you will indulge me by reading my comments from 2011:

“The Israelites are almost ready march into the wilderness.  First, a few loose ends are taken care of. A gold, seven-branched, menorah is made, as are two silver trumpets for summoning the people.  The status of the Levites is formalized, as is their work life (25 to 50 years old). Also, those Israelites who hadn’t been allowed to eat the Passover sacrifice because of ritual impurity get another chance at a second Passover (Pesach sheni) a month later.  The order of march is reviewed.  Jethro thinks his son-in-law Moses has everything under control, so he returns to Midian.  And the Israelites set out for Canaan with much fanfare.

“But the text abruptly recounts that they start complaining.  The Lord is angry at this and sets fire to the outskirts of the camp.  The people cry to Moses, he prays to the Lord, and the fire dies down.  This is the first of many times (no, I haven’t counted them) we’ll see this pattern: the people do something bad, the Lord strikes them with some plague or fire or whatever, Moses prays on their behalf, the Lord relents.  We aren’t told the reason for the first complaints, but the next ones are mainly about the food.  Not the classic “it’s awful and the portions are too small,” but the lack of variety  in general (Yes, I know there are stories about manna tasting like whatever you want, like the schmoos in Li’l Abner.) and the lack of meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic in particular.  Even Moses complains of the burden, so the Lord has grants 70 elders the gift of ecstatic prophesy.  Then the Lord gives the people are meat in the form of a huge flock of quail, “until it comes out of (their) nostrils and becomes loathsome to (them)” (11:20); and they get sick (food poisoning?), and some die.  Everyone is tense and miserable.  Even Miriam and Aaron act up, slandering their younger brother Moses and gossiping about his marriage.   Miriam is punished with tzora’at (the skin affliction mistranslated as “leprosy,” translated as “scales” in the JPS version) but Aaron isn’t. The rabbis say this may have been because Miriam was the instigator; given their personalities, that’s not an unreasonable assumption.  The Lord chews out Miriam and Aaron, Moses prays “Oh God, pray heal her!” (12:13).   After a week’s banishment from the camp, while the people wait, she is healed.

“The Israelites are not an easy people to lead.  But consider their situation.  It’s a little over a year since they left Egypt.  They are no longer occupied with building the Tabernacle.  The Exodus and the Revelation at Mt. Sinai happened months ago.  They are still having difficulty with the idea of an all-powerful, invisible deity.  And they have no idea specifically where they are going, nor how long it will take them to get there (like children who whine “Are we there yet?” 5 minutes after the car has left home).  The text indicates that it is the “riffraff,” the non-Israelites who took advantage of the chaos to leave Egypt with the Israelites, whose craving triggers the complaints about the food (11:4-6).   The Israelites, unsettled and frightened, have to vent by complaining about something, and they fixate on their food because it’s visible and concrete.  Was the food really that good in Egypt? Probably not.  Do the Israelites want to be slaves once more?  Again, probably not, though there is some comfort in escaping from freedom (see Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm, 1941).   The past always looks rosier than the hard reality of the present and usually rosier than it really was.  That was a theme of several “Twilight Zone” episodes, like “Walking Distance” (1959) about a man who tries to escape back to his childhood, and “The Trouble with Templeton” (1960) about an aging actor who revisits his youth and lost love and friends.  In “A Stop at Willoughby,” (1959, Rod Serling’s purported favorite of the show’s first season) the hero is nostalgic for a past that isn’t even his, a small town in summer, 1888.  The nostalgia of the Israelites is an attempt to divert themselves from an uncomfortable, frightening present.   And the situation is not about to get much better. “

Shabbat shalom,


The problem with making jokes about lawyers is eventually you get sued for slander and you have to hire a lawyer to defend you.


tph mousetrap

http://www.funtrivia.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/1015818/Complaints_from_Travellers (selected)

A recent survey from /////////// and //// travel agencies reveals 20 of the most ridiculous complaints by holiday-makers, made to their travel agent.

My personal favourite is #13!

1. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”

3. “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food at all.”

5. A tourist at a top African Game Lodge over looking a water hole, who spotted a visibly aroused elephant, complained that the sight of this rampant beast ruined his honeymoon by making him feel “inadequate”.

6. A woman threatened to call police after claiming that she’d been locked in by staff. When in fact, she had mistaken the “do not disturb” sign on the back of the door as a warning to remain in the room.

7. “The beach was too sandy.”

8. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as yellow but it was white.”

9. A guest at a Novotel in Australia complained his soup was too thick and strong. He was inadvertently slurping the gravy at the time.

12. “No-one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled.”

13. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England it only took the Americans three hours to get home.”

15. “The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the accommodation’. We’re trainee hairdressers – will we be OK staying there?”

16. “There are too many Spanish people. The receptionist speaks Spanish. The food is Spanish. Too many foreigners now live abroad.”

19. “I was bitten by a mosquito, no-one said they could bite.”

20. “My fiancé and I booked a twin-bedded room but we were placed in a double-bedded room. We now hold you responsible for the fact that I find myself pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”



What did the underweight onion say to the garlic?   No more light bulb jokes!



Funny Coturnix (Quail) Eggs -UPDATE, the jokes on me

Been busy working outside today.  Collected eggs this morning when I “did chores”.  Came home for lunch, & found these.  They looked like marbles in the pen.  I know the birds have been under a little stress, as I sold 10 Tibetan (quail)s & 10 10 day olds this weekend, so I split them out to give more room.  Never seen this before though.

tph quail1

This is what I’ve been getting.

tph quail2


Ok, I come home & my wife has boiled some of my “good eggs” & is standing at the sink peeling them.  I say “hey, I have to show you what i got from my quail”, so I run downstairs & carefully bring them up to show her – being ever so gentle with them.  She takes one from me & washes it under the running water & plops it in her mouth.  I gross out & she starts laughing, saying “peppermint”.

I literally laughed so hard, my eyes started watering.

Edited by keckels – 1/16/12 at 3:39pm

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