Pekudei (Exodus 38:21 – 40:38)

I was wearing a comfy flannel nightgown. As I recall, it was blue, with stripes, a bit of lace, and lots of little flowers. I was in my college dorm, in the hallway. As I headed toward the communal bathroom, I saw another girl wearing the same nightgown.  We laughed, recognizing the trope of two women being mortified at wearing the same outfit at an event.  When I emerged a few minutes later, I saw she had changed into a different nightgown.

The irony of clothing.  We want both to stand out and to blend in, but not stand out nor blend in too much. 

Once, at work, I was told I had been picked to be in a focus group meeting with the CEO.  After my initial reaction (“omigodomigodomigod!”), my first thought was, “What shall I wear?”  It was summer, too warm for my suits.  I settled on a two-piece, silk-like, jacketless outfit.  At the meeting, I sat at the far end of the table from the CEO.  There was another employee not far away, an Asian woman wearing a similar outfit.  During the discussion, it became clear that the CEO had trouble telling us apart, even though we addressed completely different subjects.

Clothing has long been a powerful tool of identity.  That’s why Joseph’s brothers were upset at his coat; it designated him as future leader of the family. That’s why there were sumptuary laws in the Middle Ages (e.g., the English Sumptuary Law of 1363) that dictated what you were allowed to wear based on your social class.  

In this week’s Torah portion, the priestly vestments we read about a few weeks ago are made, and their design goes far beyond simple identity.  According to Dr. Baruch J. Schwartz, in “The ‘Garments’ of the High Priest: Anthropomorphism in the Worship of God,” the elements of the High Priest’s outfit are much more like ritual objects than parts of a garment.  For example, the breastplate includes 12 gemstones, each carved with the name of one of the 12 tribes, showing explicitly that the High Priest represents the entire people.

The rest of the articles for the Tabernacle are made as well, under the direction of Bezalel and Oholiab. There is a detailed accounting of all the silver, gold, and copper collected and used. The directions Moses received on Sinai are followed to the letter, emphasized both by the detailed repetition of the text from Tetzaveh and the recitation of the phrase, “as the Lord commanded Moses” ca. 19 times.  Everything is brought to Moses, and he assembles the Tabernacle and its contents on the first day of Nisan, just short of a year after the Exodus from Egypt.  Instructions are given are for the priests’ upcoming ordination.  A cloud covers the Tabernacle and will continue to do so by day, as will a fire by night (glowing cloud?).  The cloud’s movement is a sign that it is time for the people to decamp and continue their journey.

So ends the book of Exodus. The Israelites are now ready to proceed onward to the Promised Land.  Or are they?

Next week: Leviticus.

Shabbat shalom,


Accounting Jokes

  • Did you hear about the cannibal CPA? She charges an arm and a leg.
  • What do you call an accountant who is seen talking to someone? Popular
  • An accountant is having a hard time sleeping and goes to see his doctor. “Doctor, I just can’t get to sleep at night.” “Have you tried counting sheep?” “That’s the problem – I make a mistake and then spend three hours trying to find it.”
  • Budget: An orderly system for living beyond your means.
  • What did the accountant say when he got a blank check? My deductions have at last caught up with the salary.


The Tailor
Tailor: Problem?

Customer: Frayed sew.
Tailor: Sew it seems!

An ancient Greek walks into his tailor’s shop with a pair of torn pants
“Euripides?” says the tailor.

“Yeah, Eumenides?” replies the man.

Why did the FDA close down the convent’s tailor shop?
Because it was found to be habit forming.

It was just another day in the jungle, and the little tailor store was open as usual.
*ting a-ling-ting* The door jingles open and in walks a flea, a spider and a rat.  They all ask to be measured up and fitted for suits. 

“Step this way”, says the tailor and begins measuring up the flea with his tiny teeny tape measure. “You’re pretty fat for a flea”, he says, as he finishes his measurements.  The flea steps back, slightly disheartened, and the tailor starts measuring the spider. 

“Wow, your legs are laughably short for a spider”. He says, as he finishes sizing him up. The spider steps aside unhappily, and he measures up the rat. 
“Your teeth are disgustingly yellow”, he tells him as he finishes up the job.

Disgruntled, the three of them walk out of the store, empty handed. 

A few months pass and the amount of small jungle creatures coming to the store gets smaller by the day. 
“I just don’t understand”, the tailor says to his shop assistant, “it seems I am no good at this anymore”.

The shop assistant replies, “Well, maybe you need to quit critter sizing”.


tph ikea furniture kit cropped


DIY Help From Your Cat 

tph DIY cat help


Quotes about Clothing

  • The finest clothing made is a person’s own skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this. Mark Twain
  • I grew up in the age of polyester. When I got to touch real silk, cotton and velvet, the feel of nonsynthetic fabrics blew me away. I know it’s important how clothing looks, but it’s equally important how it feels on your skin. Colleen Atwood
  • Be in the habit of experimenting with your clothing so that you don’t get stuck for life with a self-image developed over the course of high school. Marilyn vos Savant
  • The language of clothing is high symbolism and we all, in moments where we need to know this, realize it. Judith Martin
  • I am not really interested in clothing as a conceptual art form. Issey Miyake


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