Ha’azinu (Deut. 32:1-52), Sukkot (Lev. 22:26 – 23:44; Numbers 29:12-16)

Well, I said I’d rely less on reruns.  This, however, is an exception since I wrote new TPH’s for Sep. 13, 18, and 21 and it is now only Sep. 24.  As it happens, I wrote the comments below in 2012 and the pertinent days of the week are the same.  We’re even using the same Tinkertoy type sukkah kit.  It is not yet up.  The humor items are different.  And I will be chanting the haftarah for Ha’azinu, which I hope will not put me to sleep, as I explain below. 

From 2012:

This is not good.  Only half way through the holidays, I am both totally zonked and wired.  I am more and more enamored of the suggestion I made last year: “There was in ancient times a ‘Pesach Sheni,’ (second Passover) a month after the first, for those who couldn’t share in the Pesach sacrifice because of ritual impurity.  Maybe we could have a Sukkot Sheni a month later, for those who suffer from ritual exhaustion at the ordained time?” [Actually, Chanukah was a kind of Sukkot Sheni, since the Temple’s state precluded celebration at the proper time.  Too cold for a Sukkah, though.  IGP]

But before Sukkot starts Sunday night, we read the portion of the Shabbat weekly cycle, Ha’azinu.  This is a short Torah portion (52 verses), 43 of which make up a long poem (or song) that is a distillation of the relationship between Israel and the Lord.  There’s more violence than one would expect in a valedictory (venom, disaster, swords devouring flesh, arrows drunk with blood), directed both at Israel when the people stray and at Israel’s enemies as vengeance.  The key point (32:39): “See, then, that I, I am He; There is no god beside Me. I deal death and give life; I wounded and I will heal: None can deliver from My hand.”  When Moses finishes, he told that it is now time for him to look at the Promised Land from afar, since he cannot enter it, and then “be gathered to his people.”

We haven’t read the haftarah assigned to Ha’azinu in four [now three, the last being 2012. IGP] years, because Ha’azinu was read between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, so the haftarah for Shabbat Shuvah was read instead.  This year, Ha’azinu is read after Yom Kippur, so we get to read II Samuel 22:1-51.  This also contains a long poem, found (more-or less) in Psalm 18 and also read on the 7th day of Pesach.  This is a psalm of thanksgiving and praise by David, addressed to the Lord “after the Lord had saved him from the hands of all his enemies and from the hands of Saul” (22:1), but I don’t recall the specific incident offhand, so you should look it up.  Actually, this might go over better read in English by a good actor, with its dramatic and vivid imagery. I found chanting it in Hebrew to be a chore because (1) it’s long, (2) the language is difficult, and (3) it’s musically boring. [It also tends to be a kitty lullaby. At least in our experience. IGP]

Ah yes, Sukkot, when we are commanded to be altogether happy (actually, that phrase will be read in the Shemini Atzeret Torah reading, but it’s about Sukkot. Deut. 16:13-15).  I’ll try.  Seriously, it’s a fun holiday, especially when kids get involved decorating the sukkah. One of mine pointed out the similarity to decorating a Christmas tree, which I enjoyed as a child. For neighbors’ trees. It’s also fun to parade around the synagogue with a bunch of people, each with a lulav and etrog.  And there’s a lot of socializing.  I have a slight phobia related to having people over (OK, I need to make the house presentable), but I hope to get over that by next Sukkot (yes, it will take that long to get things in order). For those long-time readers who are awaiting this year’s chapter in our Sukkah saga, last year’s pre-fab, metal tubular Tinkertoy version

tph sukkah canvas

The Tubular Sukkah:  Taking the Concept of Klutz-Proof to a New Level

worked out OK, so we plan to put that up again on Sunday, but this time using a level.  For high-concept New York sukkot, see http://www.jewishhumorcentral.com/2010/09/new-york-mayor-bloomberg-announces.html. And yes, there are Torah readings, the same for the first and second days, also read on the second day of Pesach (so my son got a decent amount of mileage out of his Bar Mitzvah reading, first day Sukkot, 13(!!) [now16] years ago):  Lev. 22:26 – 23:44 (holidays) and Numbers 29:12-16 (sacrifices).  There are different haftarot, though, Zechariah 14:1-21 on day 1 and I
Kings 8:2-21
second day, which each refer to Sukkot.

Wishing you Shabbat Shalom and (a bit early) Hag Sameach (happy holiday),

I have not forgotten about the historic visit to the area by Pope Francis.  It will slightly alter my route on Saturday.  Also, I have seen all sorts of commemorative items advertised (see, e.g., http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Aramark-Pope-Shop-325880011.html and http://time.com/money/4035261/pope-francis-america-merchandise/ ), like figurines, tee shirts, rosary beads, ornaments, bookmarks, mugs, dolls, four craft beers (including one called Holy Wooder, for holy water, get it?), a toaster that makes toast with the Pope’s face on it, and, my favorite, the Pope Francis bobblehead:


But, most of all, I am reminded of 1979, when Pope John Paul II visited Philadelphia (with a whole lot less hoopla).  My mother Lillian would try to brighten her 97-year-old mother Lizzie’s day by telling her interesting news of the day:

Lillian:  …and the Pope is coming to Philadelphia.

Lizzie:  The Pope?  (thoughtfully) That’s a great honor for the city, a great honor. (pause, then brightly) And good for business!!



Poetry Jokes (prepare to groan)

Question: What is the highest honor among Cowboy poets?
Answer: Poet lariat.

Question: Why didn’t the angry farmer divorce his wife when she traded their prize milking cow for a book of poetry?
Answer: Because he vowed to love her for butter or verse.

Question: What is a metaphor?
Answer: For grazin’ yer cattle.

Question: How does a poet sneeze?
Answer: Haiku!!!

Question: Why are poets always so poor?
Answer: Because rhyme doesn’t pay.

Question: Why did the traffic cop give the poet a ticket?
Answer: For driving without a poetic license.

Question: What do you get when you combine Robert Frost and James Bond?
Answer: The Road Not Shaken but Stirred.

Question: What’s big and gray and writes poetry?
Answer: T.S. Elephant.

Question: What’s a Grecian Urn?
Answer: About twenty thousand drachmas a year after taxes.

Question: Why was John Keats always hounded by creditors?
Answer: Because he Ode so much.

A nurse is giving a young medical intern a tour of the hospital.
The intern approaches one bedridden patient and asks, “Why are you here?” The
patient replies, “Wee sleket cowerin’ timrous beastie/O, what a panic is in thy breastie.”
The intern moves on to the next bed and asks the same question, “Why are you
here?” The patient answers, “O, my luv is like a red, red, rose that’s newly sprung in June.”
The intern moves on to a third bed and asks again, “Why are you here” to which
the third patient replies, “The best laid plans of mice and men, may often gang awry.”
At this the intern turns to the nurse and asks, “What ward is this anyway.” And
the nurse answers, “It’s the Burns Unit.”



Parshas Haazeinu On 1 Foot   JULY 9, 2006

Moshe sings about God’s greatness, in nature etc.

God: You shall see the land from a distance, but you shall not enter.

Moshe: Was it my voice?




October 09, 2009

My hut’s better than your hut: Patenting the Sukkah (excerpts)

Aaron R. Feigelson

While there are definite rules for a kosher sukkah, there is also a tremendous amount of creative space in which to satisfy those rules.  Thus, Sukkot gives the opportunity to design and build — and that means the opportunity to innovate.  For example, my sukkah is recessed in a garden level patio, with a frame made of 2 inch PVC pipe (inspired by Tinkertoys), and each year I try to make one improvement, Jepson style.  I’ve also heard of more than one geodesic dome sukkah.  And of course, there are a variety of pre-fab sukkah kits

There are at least seven issued patents on inventions contemplating embodiments clearly relating to a sukkah:

7,017,311 Panel for modular construction     6,024,153 Retractable Sukkah awning
5,884,647 Folding structure                            5,638,645 Skyhatch
4,677,797 Knockdown housing structure     4,676,039 Quick assembly and knockdown building structure  4,584,801 Temporary building structure

Two others are intriguing because on their face they appear to be directed to self-erecting tents: 5,645,096 and 5,407,291.  But these patents mark the instructions and website for a “popup” sukkah.  Takes a matter of seconds to assemble.  Cool.

As with any patent for religious rituals, you have to question just how big the market really is, and if it is worthwhile to pursue patent protection.  But for bragging rights in the synagogue, it’s tough to beat “My sukkah is patented — is yours?”

Last sent out in 2006:


Jewish comedienne Ellen Steigman began her routine by announcing that her mother is in her first year of rabbinical school.

“She’s all excited because now she gets a student discount,” Steigman said. “And by the time she gets out of rabbinical school, she’ll be eligible for a [senior] discount.”

Steigman incorporated the recent and upcoming Jewish holidays in her routine. For instance, she spoke of Sukkot, the autumn harvest festival during which Jews traditionally build a small shelter called a sukkah.

Steigman said she once worked at a school in New York where most of the students were Russian. She sponsored a Sukkot party, without knowing the Russian meaning of the word ‘sukkah.’

“I’d put posters everywhere that said, ‘What’s a sukkah? Come find out at the sukkah party!’” she said. “It turns out [sukkah] means b*tch. Which totally ruined my ad campaign… Tons of Russian guys showed up.”

Also sent out in 2006, an oldie but goodie.  This is a handy-dandy summary of the rules for next year if you build your own sukkah, assuming yours is finished for this year.  It came with numbered footnotes (mainly citing Maimonides (“RMBM”) Mishne Torah, Hilchot Succah), most of which I’ve removed for space limitations.  Send me an email if you want them. My added footnotes are unnumbered.

The Laws of the Succah according to Dr. Seuss

> > You can build it very small
> > You can build it very tall
> > You can build it very large (3)
> > You can build it on a barge
> > You can build it on a ship
> > Or on a roof but please don’t slip
> > You can build it in an alley
> > You shouldn’t build it in a valley
> > You can build it on a wagon*
> > You can build it on a dragon (9)
> > You can make the s’chach of wood**
> > Would you, could you, yes you should
> > Make the s’chach from leaves of tree**
> > You shouldn’t bend it at the knee
> > Build your Succah tall or short
> > No Succah is built in the Temple Court
> > You can build it somewhat soon
> > You cannot build it in the month of June
> > If your Succah is well made
> > You’ll have the right amount of shade
> > You can build it very wide
> > You cannot build it on its side
> > Build if your name is Jim
> > Or Bob or Sam or even Tim
> > Build it if your name is Sue (14)
> > Do you build it, yes you do!
> > From the Succah you can roam
> > But you should treat it as your home
> > You can invite some special guests***
> > Don’t stay in it if there are pests
> > You can sleep upon some rugs
> > Don’t you build it where there’s bugs
> > In the Succah you should sit
> > And eat and drink but never …
> > If in the Succah it should rain
> > To stay there would be such a pain (16)
> > And if it should be very cold
> > Stay there only if you’re bold
> > Make it large or make it small
> > Succah rules are short and snappy
> > Enjoy Succos, rejoice be happy.

* I have fond memories of the Chabad Sukkahmobile on Penn’s campus.

** Mmmm, s’chach

*** Ushpizin

  1. According to RMBM the Succah can be built to a width of several miles. Shulchan Aruch also says there is no limit on the size of the width.
  2. RMBM Hilchot Succah Chapter 4, Section 6. OK, RMBM says a camel but dragon rhymes with wagon a lot better, don’t you agree. Anyway, RMBM says you can build your Succah on a wagon or in the crown of a tree, but you can’t go into it on Yom Tov. There is a general rule against riding a beast or ascending into the crown of a tree on Yom Tov.
  3. Technically, women, servants and minors are exempt from the Mitzvah of Succah. In our day we hope we know better than to read out half the Jewish people from the observance of Mitzvot. Of course, that’s just a personal opinion of the author.
  4. RMBM ibid, Section 10. If it rains one should go into the house. How does one know if it is raining hard enough? If
    sufficient raindrops fall through the s’chach (roof covering) and into the food so that the food is spoiled – go inside!




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1 Response to Ha’azinu (Deut. 32:1-52), Sukkot (Lev. 22:26 – 23:44; Numbers 29:12-16)

  1. Pingback: Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah | Torah Portion Humor Weekly

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