Pinchas (Numbers 25:10 -30:1)

The ancient rabbis did not like vigilantism.  We see that in the story of Pinchas, the grandson of Aaron who skewers Cozbi (the Midianite princess) and Zimri (a chieftain of the tribe of Shimon), putting an abrupt halt to the plague and Israelite apostasy.  It’s split over 2 weeks, 9 verses each week, which breaks our attention.  In verse 25:12, about the pact of peace between the Lord and Pinchas, the letter vav in the word shalom (peace) is broken:   tph broken-vav And the haftarah assigned to this portion, about Elijah (another passionate lone actor) and the still small voice, is only read occasionally.  I think the next time will be 2035.  More about this season and its haftarot later.

Now that the latest (last?) plague is over, there’s another census, like farmhands anxiously counting chicks after the incubator fails to make sure they save them all (cf. Auntie Em and Uncle Henry).  The census is needed both for military reasons and for determining how the land is to be apportioned.  The overall number (men, aged 20 and up, not Levites) has barely changed since the last one, even though almost 40 years have passed, 601,730 now versus 603,550 then.  Levites (1 month and up) have increased a bit, from 22,000 to 23,000.  The tribal distribution has changed, however.  The tribe of Shimon lost over half its population and will eventually disappear.  The tribe of Manasseh, in contrast, up about 64%. 

Speaking of Manasseh, we are now introduced to Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah, the daughters of Zelophehad of the tribe of Manasseh.  Their father has died without sons, so they want his share of land when it is apportioned.  We may think this is a simple enough proposal, but Moses thinks it requires divine intervention.  The Lord agrees with the daughters and makes this a general rule: if there are no sons, the inheritance passes to the daughter(s), then to the fathers surviving male relatives.  A wrinkle will arise, as usually happens with laws, which we’ll read about next week.

Next, Moses is reminded that he will not enter the Promised Land and why.  (Does the Lord really need to rub this in?) Since his death is approaching, Moses and the Lord finalize their succession plan and present Joshua (really, who else?) to the people as their next leader.  Finally, remember all those second scroll readings for Rosh Chodesh (1st of the month) and holidays?  Here they are!  Sacrifices.  Lots of livestock. 

Last Saturday was the 17th of Tammuz in the Hebrew calendar.  That is designated as a fast day (just daytime), but, since we don’t fast on Shabbat, except for Yom Kippur, it was observed on Sunday.  It commemorates the breach of the walls of Jerusalem by the Romans that led to the destruction of the Temple three weeks later.  Thus, it ushers in “The Three Weeks,” a period of increasingly intense mourning that culminates in the fast day of Tisha B’AvDuring that time, we read three Haftarot of Rebuke, beginning this week with Jeremiah’s call to prophecy, Jeremiah 1:1 – 2:3.  After Tisha B’Av, we get seven Haftarot of Consolation (not a bad bargain), leading up to Rosh Hashanah.   More on those later.  Jeremiah 2:2 has become part of the Rosh Hashanah liturgy: “I remember for your sake the kindness of your youth, your love as a bride–How you followed Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.”  I immediately thought of that verse when my sister-in-law-to-be agreed to marry my brother, leave suburban Philadelphia, and move to Bloomsburg.

Shabbat shalom,


‘Maybe if you practice coloring this turtle, it will help you with your parking’: Vigilante fights bad drivers with this hilarious note (abridged)


PUBLISHED: 00:50 EST, 6 November 2015 | UPDATED: 05:13 EST, 6 November 2015

Bad drivers beware.

There’s a new vigilante in town and he threatening bad drivers with equally passive aggressive and cute coloring book pages featuring a turtle.

tph parking lines

American race car driver Bill Caswell is a ‘friend’ of the bad parking enforcer who he says keeps a few copies of the note in his glove box.

“We’ve all seen it. Some a***** thinks his car is nicer than everyone else’s car and takes up two spots to prevent his door from being dinged. There’s really nothing you can do… So here’s a better approach. My friend made this and keeps a few copies in his glove box. … (H)e leaves it under their windshield wiper” writes Caswell.

Caswell says that if someone has a better idea they should suggest it to him but in the meantime he posteddownloadable version of the turtle so that other vigilantes could spread the word on the street. 


April Fools’ jokes for 2010 Census form: What is your race? Vulcan.  (excerpts)

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer APRIL 1, 2010

ATLANTA — The Census Bureau should expect as much, scheduling the official Census Day on a day of April Fools’ jokes.

Ranging from the seriously silly to the dourly serious, Americans are playing around with Question 9 of the 2010 Census form: What is Person 1’s race?

The question includes the option: Some other race – print race. And that is where the shenanigans begin.  Census workers report literally thousands forms that include, well, creative self-identified races. They include Vulcan and Borg (nods to “Star Trek“), Cylon (for the “Battlestar Galactica” fans), and, yes, NASCAR. (Get it? Race?)

Kirk Lyons, founder of the Southern Legal Resource Center, put out a YouTube video urging Southerners to write in “Confed Southern Am” on Question 9 “to start the process of giving the Southern community here in America a voice again, so our concerns will be heard.”  Mark Krikorian, the director of the Center for Immigration studies, urged Americans to check “other race” on Question 9 and write in “American”.

The original census separated “free whites” and “slaves,” and later ones differentiated between blacks, whites, Chinese, mulattoes, and Indians.  With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, ensuing census cycles allowed Americans to self-identify their race.

So what happens if you self-identify in non-traditional ways? In the case of “Confed Southern Am”, census workers will likely change those to white. In other cases, census workers will determine if a respondent is, in fact, from the planet Vulcan.  If worse comes to worse, a recalcitrant Vulcan could face fines of up to $500 for wrongful disclosure.


10 Unbelievable Inheritance Stories  1/20/2010 (Updated 09/26/2010) by Marite

5.  The waitress who inherited a little fortune from a customer

In 1992, Cara Wood was 17 and working at Drin’s Colonial Restaurant in her hometown of Chagrin Falls, about 15 miles east of Cleveland. She was a good employee – bright, friendly and helpful. One customer, Bill Cruxton, liked her so much that he always sat in her section. A widower with no children, he went daily to the restaurant for his meals and some company, so they became friends. In addition to being his regular waitress, she helped him around the house and ran errands for him. Wood became so important to Cruxton that he rewrote his will, making her the main beneficiary. Cruxton, 82, died of heart failure in November 1992 and left her half a million dollars. (Source)


tph succession plan


tph cow caffeine

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