Behar-Behukkotai (Leviticus 25:1 – 27:34)

[Yes, I know this is a week early, but I will be away next week, so you can read it now or save it until then.]

With this double portion, we close the book of Leviticus.  Starting next week: Numbers: less law, more action.

Behar (Lev. 25:1-26:2) includes instructions for the sabbatical, or shemitah (pronounced “shmeeta,” not “schmatta” (-;  ) year, the jubilee (yovel) and their economic and moral consequences (e.g., debts are cancelled at the 7th year, though we won’t read that until Deuteronomy).  25:23 is also where we get the words engraved on the Liberty Bell, “proclaim liberty (or ‘release’) throughout the land, to all the inhabitants thereof.” The yovel is the 50th year in the cycle, after completion of 7 x 7, so that means two fallow years in a row.  Lands are also returned to their original holdings; they must be redeemable. Thus, the yovel is sort of a reset button. 

The Israelites are to sow their crops for 6 years and let the land lie fallow during the 7th.  They are promised that the crop of year 6 will be extra large.  Interestingly, I just read (I think in A Daily Dose of Torah, vol. 8) that the crops in that region were normally planted on a shorter cycle, I think 3 years followed by a fallow one, so that the fertility of the soil in years 4, 5, and 6, never mind a bumper crop in year 6, was in itself a special divine gift.  But the land finally gets to rest in the 7th year.  Both the land and the people are to observe a Sabbath.  The importance of the shemitah year is underscored in Behukkotai (26:34, 35, 43) and in the writings of the prophets: if you don’t observe it now, the land will get a whole lot more rest to make up for it when you are conquered and removed from it.  In fact, the current year is a shemitah year and is observed in Israel.  The legal details can get very complex.  There’s also more interest in really experiencing the shemitah year as Sabbath, as “a collective break from the race of modern life – an entire year to focus on community, culture and spirit.” (“Shmita 5775 – Restoring the soul of an ancient tradition,” Einat Kramer, JPost, 2/18/14). Fittingly, Behar concludes with another reminder to observe the Sabbath.

Behukkotai (Lev. 26:3-27:34) starts off with a description of the good things that will happen if the people follow the laws: peace, fertility, and the presence of the Lord in their midst.  That takes up 11 verses.  Rewards are easy to describe.  Then we have warnings, five very detailed, series (26:16-17, 18-20, 21-22, 23-26, and 27-43) of progressively bad things that will happen if they disobey and keep ramping up their disobedience.  This takes up 29 verses and is referred to as the minor Tochachah (admonition); the major one comes in Deuteronomy.  Here, each series of punishments is supposed to be 7 times as bad as the preceding one, so the fifth series is 2401 times as bad as the first.  But there’s a chance at every stage to atone.

Leviticus concludes with more details on vows concerning offerings, partly in connection with the yovel.  Included are cases where a person, instead of pledging so many shekels, would pledge the “valuation of so-and-so,” which depended on so-and-so’s age and sex.  Why not just say how many shekels?  One commentator posits that this is a way of increasing the sanctity of the person whose valuation is pledged.

Shabbat shalom,


Funny Warning Labels [selected] Sent out in 2011

In case you needed further proof that the human race is doomed through stupidity, here are some actual label instructions on consumer goods.

On Tesco’s Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom) — 
‘Do not turn upside down.’ 
(well…duh, a bit late, huh!)

On Sainsbury’s peanuts — 
‘Warning: contains nuts.’ 
(talk about a news flash)

On Boot’s Children Cough Medicine — 
‘Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking 
this medication.’ 
(We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we
could just get those 5 year-olds with head-colds off those bulldozers.)

On Marks &Spencer Bread Pudding — 
‘Product will be hot after heating.’ 
(…and you thought????…)

On a Sears hairdryer — 
Do not use while sleeping. 
(That’s the only time I have to work on my hair.)

On a bag of Fritos — 
You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. 
Details inside. 
(the shoplifter special?)

On a bar of Dial soap — 
‘Directions: Use like regular soap.’ 
(and that would be???….)

On some Swanson frozen dinners — 
‘Serving suggestion: Defrost.’ 
(but, it’s just a suggestion.)

On packaging for a Rowenta iron — 
‘Do not iron clothes on body.’ 
(but wouldn’t this save me time?)

On Nytol Sleep Aid — 
‘Warning: May cause drowsiness.’ 
(..I’m taking this because???…..) 

On most brands of Christmas lights — 
‘For indoor or outdoor use only.’ 
(as opposed to what?)


Bank of America Issues Credit Card to Boy, Age 6

June 20, 2008 at 12:46 pm · [Note the 2008 date. I’m sure BofA has tightened up considerably. But, partly for nostalgia…IGP, 2010]

Kids do the darnedest things.

For example, six-year-old Bennett Christiansen of Aurora, Illinois, managed to get his own credit card from Bank of America.

Amy Christiansen, the child’s mother, said that all of her family members had been receiving offers of credit in the mail – including Bennett. For a bit of fun, she allowed Bennett to fill out and send in one of the applications addressed to him.

In a totally unexpected development, Bennett soon received a credit card with his name on it, even though he’d listed his birth date as 2002 and his income as $0. The child’s card carried a $600 credit limit.

Bank of America insists that they do not target or give credit to minors, but Mrs. Christiansen was understandably concerned about the ease with which her child obtained his first credit card. She’d better stay on her toes; Bennett’s 3-year-old sibling has also received offers of credit.

—————————- (2009)

The computer user’s reboot poem 

Don’t you wish when life is bad
and things just don’t compute,
That all we really had to do
was stop and hit reboot?

Things would all turn out ok,
life could be so sweet
If we had those special keys
Ctrl, Alt, and Delete

Your boss is mad, your bills not paid,
your wife, well she’s just mute
Just stop and hit those wonderful keys
that make it all reboot

You’d like to have another job
but you fear living in the street?
You solve it all and start anew,
Ctrl, Alt, and Delete 


tph water kills


Have you been thinking about putting yourself up for sale lately? Ever wonder how much money you could get on the open human market? This fun quiz will attempt to place a value on your life using a variety of criteria in 4 basic facets of life. Among the criteria used include athletic ability, education level, income, amount of exercise, weight, and sense of humor. This is obviously a very subjective survey and is not intended and does not claim to be scientifically accurate. The more honestly you answer the questions, the more realistic the dollar value returned will be.

I got $2.5 million.  IGP.


tph Wally's sabbatical

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