Ah, yes. That’s better. Most of the white stuff has melted. We are indeed approaching spring. And tax return filing. And Pesach prep. And I like what I wrote 3 years ago, so I will indulge myself and repeat those comments.
(2012) This is the third of the special Sabbaths before Pesach, namely, Shabbat Parah. The reading from the second scroll concerns the red heifer (parah adumah) and ritual cleanliness, while the special Haftarah (Ezekiel 36:16-38) concerns spiritual cleanliness. This is to help us get into the mood for Pesach preparation – a reminder that Pesach is less than a month away. (AAAAAAARRRRGGGGH!!!!!)
With this week’s double portion, we close out the book of Exodus. The reading starts with yet another reminder of the importance of observing the Sabbath. This is followed by the description of the tasks required for constructing the Tabernacle. From the juxtaposition of these two items, Rashi and other commentators inferred that (1) observing the Sabbath trumps even building the Tabernacle (or later, the Temple) and (2) tasks involved in that construction are not allowed on the Sabbath. More specifically, creating something is not allowed, in the same way that the Lord rested after Creation. The rabbis identified 39 such types of forbidden creative “work” (“work” is really a misnomer, since the degree of effort is not determining).
Anyhow, Moses asks for donations of the required building and decorating materials and the people respond so enthusiastically that he has to tell them to stop (sounds like a bedtime fairy tale for fund raisers: “And they all gave so much to the building fund that the little fund raiser had so much more than he needed, that he was able to end the drive two weeks early…”). Led by master craftsman Bezalel and his assistant Oholiab, the people carry out their assigned tasks of cutting planks and carving wood, tanning hides, metal working, spinning, weaving, dyeing, embroidering and making incense and oil, each person according to his or her own special talent, a talent acknowledged here as bestowed by the Lord.
Moses keeps very careful accounts of all the gold, silver, and copper donated and used. The priestly vestments are made. The Tabernacle is ready to be assembled, and the Lord gives instructions concerning its consecration and the ordination of the priests. The consecration of the Tabernacle takes place on the first of Nisan, shortly before the first anniversary of the Exodus from Egypt. A cloud covers it by day, a fire by night, their movement indicating when it is time to decamp and move on.
You may be forgiven for a sense of déjà vu upon reading Vayak’hel and Pekudei. Yes, we read all these details just a few weeks ago. We are taught that nothing is repeated in the Torah without a reason, so naturally many commentators have scratched their heads over the meaning of so much repetition here. To Yehoshua Ibn Shoav, the repetition is simply to show that the work was done as instructed. Nachmanides (1194-1270) and Or Ha-Hayyim (1696-1743) explained that the description was something precious to the Lord, whence the lingering over details and their repetition. Ralbag (1288-1344) suggested that this was a stylistic literary device (i.e., “that’s how they told stories back then”). Interestingly, this view has become more popular more recently in the light of literary historical scholarship. Mendelssohn (1729-1786 – no, not that Mendelssohn, but his grandfather Moses) proposed that the listing and repetition of specific skills needed was to emphasis that such skills should indeed be used but within constraints, not overindulged. (Sources: Nehama Leibowitz, New Studies in Shemot, pp. 644-653 and A Daily Dose of Torah, Y. A. Weiss (ed.), vol. 6, p. 146)
My own feeling is that the description is repeated, but the mood is entirely different. Words of instruction have had life breathed into them, as if we’ve gone from a black & white TV to color (I’m dating myself). The people’s joy and sense of purpose are palpable. They have been forgiven for their recent transgressions, they have something tangible to work on, and they are doing the Lord’s bidding. And what they create is magnificent. Who wouldn’t linger over all the details of such a wonderful assignment?
You’ve probably heard of “deja vu,” the illusion of having previously experienced a situation that is happening now. Here are some related expressions (selected)
Feel like I’ve…
…milked this cow before: deja moo
…seen this strange animal before: deja gnu
…read this mystery book before: deja clue
…felt this bad before: deja rue
…felt this sad before: deja blue
…learned this stuff before: deja knew
…waited in line before: deja queue
…forgotten this your name before: deja who
…had this feeling of deja vu before: deja too
…felt this ill before: deja flu
…sat through this sermon before: deja pew
…admired this scenery before: deja ooo
…exposed the real facts before: deja true
Q: What do you get if you cross an angry sheep and a moody cow?
A: An animal that’s in a baaaaaaaad moooooood.
Q: Do you know why the cow jumped over the moon?
A: The farmer had cold hands.
Q: What do you call cattle with a sense of humor?
A: Laughing stock.
Q: What are a cow’s favorite subjects in school?
A: Moosic, psycowolgy, cowculus
Q: What do you call it when a cow jumps over a barbed wire fence
25 Jokes That Only Accountants Will Find Funny (not really – I’ve selected less insider-y ones. IGP)
To thank the pros who crunch the numbers so we don’t have to, we polled accountants and auditors and scoured the web to round up 25 jokes that only accountants will love.
- Welcome to the accounting department, where everybody counts.
- Where do homeless accountants live?In a tax shelter.
- A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
- How do you know you have a great CPA?He has a tax loophole named after him.
- An accountant is someone who solves a problem you didn’t know you had in a way you don’t understand.
- Why did the accountant cross the road?Because she looked in the files and did what they did last year.
- What do you call a financial controller who always works through lunch, takes two days holiday every two years, is in the office every weekend, and leaves every night after 10 p.m.? Lazy.
- Why do economists exist?So accountants have someone to laugh at.
- There are just two rules for creating a successful accountancy business:1. Don’t tell them everything you know. 2. [Redacted]
- Four Laws of Accounting a
1. Trial balances don’t.
2. Bank reconciliations never do.
3. Working capital does not.
4. Return on investments never will.
A laborer, a craftsman, an artist, and a doctor
The ancient adage says: The laborer works with his hands. The craftsman works with his hands and his brain. The artist works with his hands, brain, and heart. The surgeon works with his hands and your brain and heart.
Recently a guy in Paris nearly got away with stealing from the Louvre. However, after escaping with the goods, he was captured only two blocks away when his van ran out of fuel. When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied: “I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh.”
The last word however has to go to Picasso, as sharp as any stand-up confronting a heckler: During World War II an inquisitive German officer was harassing him in his Parisian apartment. Noticing a photograph of Guernica lying on a table he asked the artist “did you do that?” “No, you did,” responded Picasso.
A man walked into a doctor’s office and the receptionist asked him what he had.
He replied, “I got shingles.” She said, “Fill out this form and supply your name, address,
medical insurance number. When you’re done, please take a seat.”
Fifteen minutes later a nurse’s aide came out and asked him what he had.
He said, “I got shingles.” So she took down his height, weight, and complete medical history, then said, “Change into this gown and wait in the examining room.”
A half hour later a nurse came in and asked him what he had. He said, “I got shingles.”
So she gave him a blood test, a blood pressure test, an electrocardiogram, and told him to wait for the doctor.
An hour later the doctor came in and asked him what he had. He said, “Shingles.”
The doctor gave him a full-cavity examination, and then said, “I just checked you out thoroughly, and I can’t find shingles anywhere.”
The man replied, “They’re outside in the truck. Where do you want them?”
[Interior design goes back a long way. IGP]