Tetsaveh (Exodus 27:20 – 30:10), Shabbat Zachor (Deut. 25:17-19), Purim

It’s still February.  I’ve already watched my February movie (Enchanted April, 1991) and it helped for several hours.  But that was a few days ago.  And this idiotic talk about arming teachers with guns is particularly irritating.  Some people have seen too many movies about quick-draw artists who never miss.  They should watch Dodge City (1939), in which one gunfight that brought about one child’s death led Errol Flynn to take over as sheriff and ban guns north of a particular street.  They were checked at the jail, like coats.

Mainly from various past comments: Purim starts next Wednesday night, on which we read the Book of Esther, exchange food gifts (Shalach Manot), give to the poor, eat hamantaschen, drink, dress up in costumes, and noisily blot out the name of Haman (the villain) during the reading.  This story includes murder plots, eunuchs, courtesan training, a nice Jewish girl “passing” as Persian, a king who chooses his queen by trying candidates out every night, and a narcissistic, megalomaniacal villain who wants to kill all the Jews because one won’t bow down to him.  Not really G-rated.

This Sabbath is Shabbat Zachor (“Remember!”), the second of the 4 special Sabbaths before Passover having a second scroll reading.  It’s the Sabbath right before Purim. The added reading (Deut. 25:17-19) instructs us to remember Amalek, who perpetrated a sneak attack on the weak rear guard of the Israelites.  It ties in with Purim in that Haman is traditionally understood to be a descendant of Amalek and Mordechai, a descendant of Saul.  The special haftarah, Samuel 15:1-34 (Ashkenazim begin at 15:2 for some reason), concerns Saul’s loss of Divine favor because of his inability to carry out the Lord’s command to completely destroy the Amalekites, including their king, Agag.  It’s very dramatic.  When Saul pulls on Samuel’s robe, begging the prophet to return with him, the robe tears and Samuel says, “The Lord has this day torn the kingship over Israel away from you and has given it to another who is worthier than you.” (15:28) My daughter chanted this haftarah and a chunk of the Torah reading for her Bat Mitzvah. 

The main Torah portion includes instructions for Moses (the “you” – his name isn’t mentioned) concerning the menorah; the duties, vestments, and ordination procedures for the priests; and the altar for burning incense.   The garments for the priests (Aaron’s sons) include fringed linen tunics, linen headdresses (turbans?), embroidered sashes, and, for modesty and decorum, linen breeches.   As High Priest, Aaron has additional vestments: a breastplate, an ephod, and a robe.  The breastplate is to include 12 gemstones, with the name of each tribe carved on a gemstone.  The ephod is ‘a covering for the back and breast, held together on the shoulders by two clasps or brooches of onyx stones set in gold, and fastened by a girdle of the same stuff as the ephod. The ephod for the priests was of plain linen; that for the High Priest was richly embroidered in colors. The breastplate of the High Priest was worn upon the ephod in front.’ (from http://www.lexic.us)


tph High Priest Vestments

The robe is to be blue and include alternating golden bells and “pomegranates” (pom-poms) of blue, purple, and crimson yarn on its hem. The bells were my daughter’s favorite part of the uniform, the gemstones the least (difficult Hebrew).  Mine is the Urim v’Thumim (literally, lights and completeness).  The breastplate is folded in half to form a pocket. The High Priest would insert in the pocket a sheet of parchment with the Lord’s name written on it and ask a question.  Letters would then light up on the gemstones and be decoded by the High Priest.  Like a Biblical “Magic 8-Ball” (registered trademark, Tyco Toys, Inc).

The High Priest’s elaborate garments clearly contributed to the aura of holiness in the Tabernacle service.  The Maharal of Prague (apparently one of my ancestors) also noted that the Hebrew words for “heavy” and “honor” have the same root.  Thus, the substance (weightiness) of the vestments symbolized the degree of honor accorded him  [From A Daily Dose of Torah, Y. A. Weiss general editor]. 

I’m part of a Facebook group set up for my high school class.  A recent discussion concerned when we were first allowed to were slacks (not jeans) to school. It was the middle of junior year.  By graduation, slacks had become the new “normal” to the extent that it was actually a shock to see everyone in dresses (white dresses, not cap and gown). 

When I was a child, on Fridays, I wore a dress to school, play clothes afterwards, and a slightly dressier dress for services.  The particular clothes worn clearly marked off segments of time.  Nowadays, casual clothing (even pajama bottoms instead of slacks) appears to be the rule, or the desire, everywhere and all the time.  This can be economical, but it also reinforces the regrettable tendency for time and corresponding identities to blur.  In my opinion, special times and places, like Shabbat synagogue services, deserve special clothing.  

Shabbat shalom,


(selections with editing for clarity)

Magic fortune telling ball is a toy used for fortune-telling or seeking advice. Shake it, turn it with the viewing window down, then ask a yes/no question and turn it over. A die with the message floats up to the window and displays the answer, typically something like: Absolutely, Can’t Say Now, Chances Aren’t Good, Consult Me Later, Don’t Bet On It, Focus And Ask Again, Looks Like Yes, No, No Doubt About It, Prospect Good, and so on.

It’s also available in Chinese, Russian, and Spanish. And you can tailor the answers to relate to a specific area of interest, like the financial market (Bear Market Ahead, Bull Market Ahead, Buy Now, Buy Pork Bellies, One Word: Plastics, Out to Lunch, etc).

Or you may want a particular tone, like sarcastic:  As If, Ask Me If I Care, Dumb Question Ask Another, Forget About It, Get A Clue, In Your Dreams, Not, Not A Chance, Obviously, Oh Please, Sure, That’s Ridiculous, Well Maybe, What Do You Think?, Whatever, Who Cares?, Yeah And I’m The Pope, Yeah Right, You Wish, You’ve Got To Be Kidding… 

Think of the possibilities!



tph diamond pressure



My memory has gotten so bad it has actually caused me to lose my job. I’m still employed. I just can’t remember where.

Patient to friend: “I saw the doctor to day about my loss of memory.” Friend: “What did he do?” Patient: “He made me pay him in advance.”

A scientist tells a pharmacist, “Give me some prepared tablets of acetylsalicylic acid.” “Do you mean aspirin?” asks the pharmacist. The scientist slaps his forehead. “That’s it!” he says. “I can never remember the name.”



tph plastic vestments



Top Ten Reasons for Celebrating Purim

   by Kenneth Goldrich

  1. Making noise in shul is a MITZVAH!!
  2. Levity is not reserved for the Levites
  3. Nobody knows if you’re having a bad hair day. You can tell them it’s your costume
  4. Purim is easier to spell than Chanukah, I mean Hanukah, I mean, KHanukah, I mean Chanuka, I mean the Festival of Lights.
  5. You don’t have to kasher your home and change all the pots and dishes.
  6. You don’t have to build a hut and live and eat outside (but you could volunteer to build a new Purim booth for next year’s Carnival)
  7. You get to drink wine and drink wine and drink wine and you don’t even have to stand for Kiddush (I guess you can’t!)
  8. You won’t get hit in the eye by a lulav
  9. You can’t eat hamantaschen on Yom Kippur
  10. Mordecai – 1 ; Haman – 0 !!!!


https://forward.com/backward/backward-2017/365464/being-white-was-fun-while-it-lasted/?attribution=articles-article-listing-5-headline (Purim spoof issue)

Editorial  – Being ‘White’ Was Fun While It Lasted (abridged)

Well, we had a great run there. It was probably too good to last forever – downright ahistorical, when you come right down to it. But someday in the future, as we huddle together for safety, we’ll tell our children tales of that brief shining moment when we Jews were white….

And I’m not gonna lie – it was nice. Really nice…. It’s not that being white means people are throwing money at you or anything gauche like that. It’s just so unharried. So smooth. So easy and natural.

But the good times don’t last forever. And we’ve got a lot of adjustments to make. All these other groups we’re gonna be fighting for the leftover scraps – they’re battle-tested, they’ve still got their street smarts. Us, we’ve gone soft, getting into all the best neighborhoods, the best schools, best jobs.

And look, progressive parenting styles and fair-trade organic foods aren’t really gonna cut it when our kids have to face down anti-Semitic street gangs. Tough love is going to be making a big comeback. And possibly the funny pointed hats, we don’t know…..

I’m not bitter. And I’m not mad at white America – the real ones. They brought us in, showed us around, let us feel like we really belonged. Of course we didn’t really. But for a glorious instant, it felt like we did.


https://forward.com/backward/backward-2017/365466/local-milk-merchant-accused-of-contact-with-russians/?attribution=articles-article-listing-10-headline (Purim spoof issue)

Local Milk Merchant Accused of Contact with Russians

By Ian Fist  Mar 7, 2017  Anatevka

The FBI yesterday revealed covert photographs of a villager known as Tevye colluding with Russian diplomats. Little is known of the conversation — which Tevye initially denied ever happened. He is suspected of discussing how he might be made “a rich man” and of concealing the conversation by having a violinist play loudly on top of his house.



Quotes about Clothes

I think fashion is a lot of fun. I love clothes. More than fashion or brand labels, I love design. I love the thought that people put into clothes. I love when clothes make cultural statements and I think personal style is really cool. I also freely recognize that fashion should be a hobby. Anne Hathaway

Lingerie is my next love after clothing; I think it is what is worn underneath that really inspires a woman to feel beautiful in her clothes – that inner, secret glamour. Alice Temperley

I wasn’t really naked. I simply didn’t have any clothes on. Josephine Baker

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1 Response to Tetsaveh (Exodus 27:20 – 30:10), Shabbat Zachor (Deut. 25:17-19), Purim

  1. Miriam says:

    A lot of stuff here! Thanks!

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