7th & 8th Days of Pesach


(Comments from 2016, edited) Yes, it is still Passover (Pesach).  It’s an 8-day holiday, 7 if you’re Reform or Israel.  We are still eating matzah and getting crumbs all over.  And there’s stuff left to do, besides starting to pack up the Pesach stuff.  For example, on the 2nd night, we began to count the Omer, which we will do daily for a total of 49 days, until the holiday of Shavuot.  This counting, known in Hebrew as Sefirot HaOmer, is done in commemoration of the Temple offerings of an “omer” of grain as commanded in Leviticus 23:15–16, which was in the 2nd day Torah reading.  To help you keep track, there are online Omer counters such as The Homer Calendar (which my husband uses – the site also has a lot on “all things Jewish and Simpsons”) as well as apps like Ultimate Omer 2 – The Sefira app you can count on.

Yes, there are more Torah readings.  Actually, as well as the 7th & 8th day holidays, the 4 intermediate days (chol hamoed, this year, 4/22-25) have their own Torah readings, which, since chol hamoed is almost over, you can read about here.

Here are the 7th and 8th day Torah and haftarah readings.  They concern redemption (Hebrews at the Sea, David from Saul, and everyone in the Messianic age) and the holidays:

April 26, 7th day Pesach Exodus 13:17-15:26 The splitting of the Re(e)d Sea, the Song at the Sea. Num. 28:19-25 The Passover sacrifice.  Same as first two days, minus verses 16-18. II Samuel 22:1-51 David’s song of thanks for rescue from Saul et al.  Also the Haftarah for Ha’azinu in the fall.  Contains Psalm 18.
April 27, 8th day Pesach Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17 Tithes. Sabbatical year. Levites. Slaves. Consecration of first born. Holidays: Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot. Num. 28:19-25 Same as 7thday Isaiah 10:32 – 12:6  Messianic vision, which we’ve been leading up to since Shabbat Shekalim. Imagery of animals lying down together and led by a small child.

Besides the Song at the Sea we read on the 7th day, it is customary to read the Song of Songs (Shir HaShirim, aka Song of Solomon,) on the intermediate Sabbath of Passover.  There isn’t one this year, so we could read it on the 8th day, but services are already long then, so we generally skip it.  That’s a pity, since it’s chanted to a lovely melody which evokes spring and perfume and young love:

‘For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.’


‘Turtle’ is Jacobean for turtledove.

There are also many, many musical settings of parts of the Song of Songs in various languages. A few examples of popular Hebrew songs are Dodi Li (verses 2:16, 3:6, 4:9, 4:16, music by Nira Chen), Kol Dodi (verse 2.8, folk melody), and El Ginat Egoz (6:11; 7:12-13: 4:16, Sarah Levi Tanai). Pablo Casals composed a lovely setting in Latin, Nigra Sum (1:4-5; 2:10b-12a). There are dozens and dozens of settings from the 12th to 21st centuries, especially the 16th, listed at http://www.grabinski-online.de/div/hoheslied.html.  Maybe I’ll take a look at some medieval or Renaissance ones someday.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

Chag sameach and Shabbat shalom,



tph red-sea-joke



(7 of) 15 things you always wanted to know about matzah | ISRAEL21c

By ISRAEL21c Staff  APRIL 5, 2017, 7:50 AM

1.Matza, matzah, matzo, matzoh … a food with many spellings thanks to its Hebrew origins and no direct English translation. Matzah is also called “poor bread” and “bread of affliction” in the Torah.

5.Each square of regular machine-made matzah packs 111 calories. There are 46 calories in one matzah ball.

8.1838: the year Frenchman Isaac Singer invented the first matzah dough-rolling machine. Rabbis weren’t all that keen on this innovation, but the idea was eventually accepted.

9.1888: the year Lithuanian immigrant Dov Behr opened the first matzah factory in Cincinnati, Ohio. Behr* took on the name Manischewitz and named his factory the B. Manischewitz Company.

*Actually, his original name was Dov Behr Abramson. According to his geni.com entry, “he purchased the passport of a dead man named Manischewitz to gain passage to America in 1888.” IGP

11.2008: the year competitive-eating champion Joey Chestnut ate 78 matzo balls in eight minutes, according to the International Federation of Competitive Eating.

12.2010: the year Chef Jon Wirtis of Shlomo and Vito’s New York Delicatessen in Tucson, Arizona, created the world’s largest matzah ball (kneidlin Yiddish). The 426-pound (193-kg) monstrosity – comprising more than 1,000 eggs, 125 pounds (57 kg) of matzah meal (finely ground matzah), 25 pounds (11 kg) of schmaltz (fat) and 20 pounds (9 kg) of potato starch – and was created for Tucson Jewish Food Festival.

13.2011: the year Manischewitz set a world record for largest matzah. In honor of the opening of its new headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, Manischewitz baked a 25-foot-1-inch (7.5-meter) long and 41.5-inch (a little over a meter) wide piece of matzah that weighed nearly 25 pounds (11 kilograms). That’s about 336 regular matzahs in one! Or over 37,000 calories…



A Simpsons Exodus (Last sent out in 2013.)

This is an excerpt of a “Simpsons” episode, “Simpsons Bible Stories,” written by Tim Long, Larry Doyle, and Matt Selman that aired on April 4, 1999, a version of the Exodus with Milhouse as Moses and Principal Skinner as Pharaoh.  At this point, Moses/Milhouse and Lisa have been imprisoned in a pyramid by Chief Wiggum.

 Milhouse and Lisa climb the spikes, like a ladder, until they reach the top of the pyramid.  They remove the capstone and slide down the side, blowing a rams’ horn.

“Our time has come!” Milhouse shouts.  “Follow me to freedom!”

Meanwhile, Bart is chiseling “I will not deface,” as a rebus, into the blackboard.  He hears the commotion and runs outside.

Wiggum runs into Skinner’s chamber to tell him the children of Israel are escaping.  Skinner is unconcerned until he is reminded that this would leave him without a labor force.

 Meanwhile, the children have reached the shore of the Red Sea.

Lisa:           Oh, we’ll never be able to swim that far.
[Skinner and his army of chariots appear on the horizon]

Bart:           Oy, caramba!

Milhouse: [throws down his staff] Screw this; I’m converting.  [to the sky] Save us, o mighty Ra!

Lisa:           Hey, cut that out!  I have an idea.
[shortly later, as clouds gather, the children are lined up at the latrines]
Okay, Moses — lead your people.

Milhouse:   Flush!
[the children do so, in unison.  The Red Sea is soon drained]
It’s a miracle!  I performed a miracle!  I’m a genius!

Lisa exhorts everyone to cross.  Skinner sees what has happened and commands his troops into the “temporarily dry sea.”  As soon as they are part of the way across, the water returns, swamping them all.  The men surface, and begin horsing around like kids in a pool.  Lou complains that Eddie is splashing him, but Wiggum just tells him to splash Eddie back.
Safely on the other side of the sea, the children cheer.

Milhouse:   Well, Lisa, we’re out of Egypt.  So, what’s next for the Israelites?  Land of milk and honey?

Lisa: [consulting a scroll] Hmm, well, actually it looks like we’re in for forty years of wandering the desert.

Milhouse: Forty years?  But after that, it’s clear sailing for the Jews, right?

Lisa: [nervously] Uh-huh-hum, more or less — hey, is that manna?  [the children cheer and run off into the distance]



Counting the Omer on the streets of San Francisco (excerpts)


On the night of May 3, next to the roaring traffic on busy 19th Avenue in San Francisco, a dozen people gathered to tell a few jokes, sing songs and count the Omer.

Starting a few minutes late — the group was on “Jewish standard time” one of the participants joked — those assembled held a Havdallah service and then proceeded to count the 19th day of the Omer.

Counting the Omer is an injunction to count the number of each day out loud during the 49 days between the second day of Passover and Shavuot.

Coincidentally, San Francisco has 49 avenues, which led to the birth of the Omer Project last year after Yeashore Community maggid Jeff Haas and Reuben Politi put two and two together — or, more accurately, 49 and 49.

It’s an effort to get people to come together and publicly participate in the counting ritual, while also injecting a post-denominational spirit into the proceedings — meaning, according to the organizers, that they included a plurality of traditions.

“The Omer period connects between the move from slavery to freedom and the receiving of the Torah,” Rabbi Danny Gottlieb of San Francisco Congregation Beth Israel Judea explained to J. last year.

In addition to the ritual activities, some members of the group enjoyed telling jokes, which took the event a little bit in the direction of the popular Web series “Old Jews Telling Jokes.”

There was a sing-along component, too. Among other songs, organizers Haas and Politi penned original lyrics about the Omer, set to George Gershwin’s famous “Summertime” from the 1935 opera “Porgy and Bess.”



A Choristers’ Guide To Keeping Conductors In Line (excerpts)

The following rules are intended as guides to the development of habits which will promote the proper type of relationship between singer and conductor.

3.Bury your head in the music just before cues.

5.Loudly clear your throat during pauses (tenors are trained to do this from birth). Quiet instrumental interludes are a good chance to blow your nose.

6.Long after a passage has gone by, ask the conductor if your C# was in tune. This is especially effective if you had no C# or were not singing at the time.

8.Wait until well into a rehearsal before letting the conductor know that you don’t have the music.

9.Look at your watch frequently. Shake it in disbelief occasionally.

10.When possible, sing your part either an octave above or below what is written. This is excellent ear-training for the conductor. If he hears the pitch, deny it vehemently and claim that it must have been the combination tone.

11.Tell the conductor, “I can’t find the beat.” Conductors are always sensitive about their “stick technique” so challenge it frequently.

13.Ask the conductor if he has listened to the von Karajan recording of the piece. Imply that he could learn a thing or two from it. Also good: ask, “Is this the first time you’ve conducted this piece?”




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First Two Days of Pesach

My dear husband, now retired, is shouldering a huge amount of the Passover preparation this year. He will get plenty of extra hugs.

Passover (Pesach) has become the most overwhelming holiday in the Jewish calendar, at least in the U.S.  It requires a whole lot of preparation, lasts 7 or 8 days (depending), and its highlight is a long ceremonial dinner (or two), the seder, with story-telling and ritual from a booklet called a haggadah, usually with a large number of people, especially family. So it’s a big deal, fitting for celebrating the Exodus from Egypt.

The focus of the preparation is getting rid of leavened foods, chametz.  I wrote here in 2017, “We are supposed to rid our abodes of chametz, which technically is “any food product made from wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt that has come into contact with water and been allowed to ferment and ‘rise’.” Chametz is also symbolically linked to pride (being puffed up, get it?), so getting rid of chametz is a means of increasing your humility.  But trying to rid one’s house of all chametz can be carried to extremes if one conflates   chametz with schmutz (dirt). I have read of Legos placed in a mesh bag and laundered to get rid of possible crumbs on crevices.  In the last several years, however, I’ve seen articles encouraging a moderate approach.  An article in my own shul’s newsletter declared that if we’re spending more than a day getting rid of chametz, it’s too much.  Debra Nussbaum Cohen’s 2011 essay, The Passover Cleaning Season Is Upon Us, and the link there to advice from Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg are also worth looking at.”

There are a whole lot of haggadahs to choose from for your seder. See, for example, http://www.ifitshipitshere.com/the-ten-quirkiest-passover-haggadot/. Now you can even download them. Two examples:

1.     Explore the connections between the ancient Passover story and today’s refugees in the HIAS Haggadah

2.     The JewishGen Passover Companion 2019 contains inspirational vignettes about how Passover was observed in
various communities, along with first-hand accounts about the great
effort and personal risk (Mesirat Nefesh) Jews took to observe
Passover during the Holocaust….To read it online, please click here: http://bit.ly/JewishGen2019FS
To download the file to your computer (and for printing), please click
here: http://bit.ly/JewishGenPassoverDL

Since the sedarim are generally long and incorporate 4 cups of wine, attendance at services the first two days of Pesach is often light. My husband has to go the 2nd day this year because he’s doing some of the Torah reading. Here is my crib sheet in case you actually go or are just curious.

April 20, 1st day Pesach Exodus 12:21-51

The first Passover, the Exodus, and laws for future Passovers (duh).

Numbers 28:16-25

The Passover sacrifice (also duh).

Joshua 5:2-6:1, 27

[or 3:5-7; 5:2–6:1, 27] Circumcision of the males born in the wilderness.

April 21, 2nd day Pesach Leviticus 22:26-23:44

The holidays (“set times”).

Numbers 28:16-25

Same as the first day.

II Kings 23:1-25

or 23:1-9, 21-25] King Josiah’s religious revival.

But was there actually an Exodus from Egypt, as written in the Bible?  Were there 10 plagues?  Did the sea split? (That’s in the 7th day Torah reading.)  There are all sorts of opinions with varying levels of believability. Here are links to some of them:

Move Over, Moses: A Pharaoh May Have Created the Ancient Kingdom of Israel  New archaeological evidence and biblical scholarship suggest Shishak wanted to make Egypt great again – but may have inadvertently steered the Israelites into creating a great nation of their own.

Exodus: History or Mythic Tale?

(I haven’t yet read the 5 items below.)

1.ESSAY by JOSHUA BERMAN  March 2, 2015, professor of Bible at Bar-Ilan University and a research fellow at the Herzl Institute.   Was There an Exodus? A biblical scholar reviews the historical claims of the biblical book of Exodus.

Many are sure that one of Judaism’s central events never happened. Evidence, some published here for the first time, suggests otherwise.

To this day, no pulpit talk by a contemporary American rabbi has generated greater attention or controversy than a sermon delivered by Rabbi David Wolpe on the morning of Passover 2001. ‘The truth,’ Rabbi Wolpe informed his Los Angeles congregation, ‘is [that] the way the Bible describes the exodus [from Egypt] is not the way it happened, if it happened at all.’”

  1. RESPONSE How to Judge Evidence for the Exodus
  2. RESPONSE The Exodus: Case Not Proved
  3. RESPONSE Biblical Criticism Hasn’t Negated the Exodus
  4. LAST WORD Was Israel Taken out of Egypt, or Egypt out of Israel?

Actually, I react to all this with only academic interest.  The historicity of the Exodus doesn’t really matter to me. The story is a way of demonstrating, or at least introducing, the foundation and values and principles that define a people.

Shabbat shalom and a zissun (sweet) Pesach,



tph pesadik lego


For your amusement: A newly relevant rewrite of the discussion in the Haggadah about how to tell four sons/children about Passover,  How To Talk To Your Four Sons About The Mueller Report  Very clever! (thanks, Stanley)



tph babybluesblinds1tph babybluesblinds2



Top Ten Signs the Russians have Hacked your Seder

  1. The 4 glasses of wine suddenly 4 shots vodka
    9. Marror (bitter herb) sure smells a lot like ‘military-grade nerve agent’
    8. Hillel sandwich now includes beluga caviar
    7. The 4 sons now showing as 4 million sons on Facebook
    6. Yachatz (breaking the middle matza) done in Ivan Drago voice proclaiming” “I will Break You”
    5. Dtzach Adash Bachab mnemonic (for the 10 plagues in Hebrew) is now U.S.S.R
    4. Your drunk Uncle Rob keeps asking you to call him Boris
    3. Seder invitation begins “Whoever is Hungry, welcome to socialism”
    2. Anyone who discloses the location of the Afikomen gets shot
    1. Seder concludes with “Next Year in Crimea”

Really Really Bad Seder Jokes

● What army base is off limits on Passover? Fort Leavenworth
● What’s the difference between matzoh and cardboard?? Cardboard doesn’t leave crumbs in the rug
● What kind of shoes did the Egyptians where during the plague of Frogs? Open toad!
● What do you call someone who derives pleasure from the bread of affliction? A matzochist.
● Who is behind Pharaoh’s Evil Empire? Darth Seder
● What was the name of the Secret Spy for the Jews in Egypt? Bondage, James Bondage
● Q: What’s the best cheese to eat on Pesach? A: Matza-rella.
● How many Pharoahs does it take to screw in a light bulb? One, but he won’t let it go.



Moses’s Gift to the Auto Industry
My five-year-old daughter excitedly greeted her mother: “Guess what we made in Jewish school today, Mommy. We made unleaded bread!”

K’vetch, we need you!
Picture a nerdy looking man named Herbert sitting at the Passover seder table. He speaks: “Why do I hafta sit at the kids’ table? This stinks!! This really stinks!!”

Moral: . . . No seder would be complete without the bitter Herb.


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Metzora (Lev.14:1-15:33), Shabbat HaGadol

I have this nagging sense that we have entered an age of global isolationism and disaster. But outdoors, I see all these hopeful signs of spring, trees with pink and white blossoms and delicate green leaves, brilliantly yellow daffodils and forsythia, tulips with still-unopened buds.

This week’s Torah and haftarah readings combine isolation and stigmatization with reintegration into the community and hope for the future.  Metzora, even more than Tazria, which we read last week, is one of those Torah portions that make you want to turn the pages really quickly.  But its very high “ewww!” factor distracts the reader from what are profound teachings about community and stigma.

Last week, we learned how the priest diagnoses tzara’at, the skin ailment formerly thought to be leprosy, the isolation of the person who has it (the metzora) and how the metzora is found to be ready for ritual purification. We also learned that tzara’at can occur in cloth or leather, and this week we see it can also occur in houses; these are red or green streaks, probably some kind of mold or fungus.

This week, we read the details of the purification of the metzora. This involves a ritual with 2 birds, cedar wood, crimson thread, and hyssop, with sprinklings of a blood-water mixture. The metzora launders his clothing, shaves off all his hair (even eyebrows), and immerses in water. He stays outside his tent, though now in the camp, for 7 days. The laundering, shaving, and immersion are repeated on the 7th day, and on the 8th, now ritually pure, he offers sacrifices.

After the section on house tzara’at, we learn about ritual impurity and purification in connection with genital discharges: male and female, normal and abnormal.  Details are in Chapter 15.

A key verse concerning Tazria and Metzora is 15:31: “You shall separate the Children of Israel from their contamination; and they shall not die as a result of their contamination if they contaminate My Tabernacle that is among them.”  You have to be ritually pure to go to the Tabernacle (later, the Temple) and offer sacrifices, which is a major demonstration of being part of the community.  Since there is no Temple now, what remains active are the restraints on sexual activity derived from Chapter 15.

It is not surprising that a society will define certain people as “unclean” and “worthy of” separation or exile.  In some cases, quarantine may be warranted for medical reasons.  But often, even if what causes the “uncleanliness” is just a medical condition, stigma attaches to it.  Surely the victim must somehow have deserved this?  Tzara’at was later linked by the rabbis to slander.  Similar conclusions that the community or individual “deserved this” accompanied the Black Death in the mid-14th century, AIDS in our own day, and mental illness for millennia.  Even when a stigmatizing condition is vanquished or managed, the stigma might not go away, and the person may still be an outcast.  Someone who is treated successfully for, say, depression or ADHD does not get a Certificate of Sanity.

Yet separation is not the focus of Metzora, but rehabilitation. There is a well-defined process with a clear, official ending, after which stigma is absent. Rabbi Leonard A. Sharzer, MD, associate director for bioethics of the Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies, JTS, wrote in 2011, in Metzora: Disease or Dis-ease? “In the end, however, Parashat Metzora is less about separation, and more about reentry and reintegration. … If there is a lesson for us in this parashah, it is to remind us of the need for constant vigilance and for developing an awareness of our discomfort with difference, and of the way we marginalize others and often even stigmatize ourselves. It is not about the disease of the Metzora as much as it is about the dis-ease of the rest of us. Above all, we are reminded of the need to correct the injustice of the stigmatization we are all too quick to inflict.”

This is Shabbat HaGadol, the final Sabbath before Passover (Pesach).  Traditionally, it was one of only two times during the year that the rabbi gave a sermon. This one concerned the laws of Passover and was very long. There’s no additional scroll this week, but there is a special haftarah, Malachi 3:4-24.  It looks toward “the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord.” This will be a time of wholeness and reconciliation which will come only after Elijah specifically reconciles parents and children.

Next week: Passover!

Shabbat shalom,



Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness [Judaicized version, sent out in 2005]

A rabbi, apparently fed up with all the excuses given over the years to why people don’t go to services, included this list in the synagogue bulletin.


1.       I was forced to as a child.
2.        People who wash are hypocrites — they think they are cleaner than everybody else.
3.        There are so many different kinds of soap, I can’t decide which is best.
4.        I used to wash, but I got bored and stopped.
5.        I wash only on special occasions, like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
6.        None of my friends wash.
7.        I’ll start washing when I get older and dirtier.
8.        I can’t spare the time.
9.        The bathroom is never warm enough in winter or cool enough in summer.
10.        People who make soap are only after your money.



Shaving Jokes

  • Who shaves 10 times a day and still has a beard? The barber.
  • What do you call a group of men waiting for a shave? A barber-queue.
  • Dear Disney, why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?
  • Dear shaving commercials, stop shaving hairless legs. If you want to impress me shave a gorilla.
  • I mustache you a question, but I’ll shave it for later.
  • Little Willie asked his mother: “Mamma, don’t soldiers ever go to heaven?” “Of course they do!” protested his mother. “What makes you ask?” “There are so many soldiers with beards, but I never saw any pictures of angels with beards.” “Oh, that’s because most men who go to Heaven get there by a close shave.”

When I went to Boston for grad school, winter was continuously cold for several months. Since legs were covered up, there was no reason to shave them. I remember one of my roommates referred to our very infrequent shaves as “mowing the lawn.” IGP



Top Ten Signs You Are in For A Long Sermon

10. There’s a case of bottled water beside the pulpit in a cooler.
9. The pews have camper hookups.
8. You overhear the pastor telling the sound man to have a few (dozen!) extra tapes on hand to record today’s sermon.
7. The preacher has brought a snack to the pulpit.
6. The preacher breaks for an intermission.
5. The bulletins have pizza delivery menus.
4. When the preacher asks the deacon to bring in his notes, he rolls in a filing cabinet.
3. The choir loft is furnished with La-Z-Boys.
2. Instead of taking off his watch and laying it on the pulpit, the preacher turns up a four-foot hour-glass.

And the Number One Sign You Are in For A Long Sermon

  1. The minister says, “You’ll be out in time to watch the Super Bowl” but it’s only September!



tph socks



An Orphan

In the 1970’s, a Russian school inspector is questioning the children. He points to one of the boys and says, “Who is your father?”
The boy replies, “The Soviet Union.”
He then asks, “Who is your mother?”
“The communist party,” came the reply.
“And what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I want to be a Stankhanovite worker for the glory of the state and the party.”

The inspector then points to one of the girls and asks, “Who is your father?”
The girl answers, “The Soviet Union.”
“Who is your mother?” — “The communist party.”
“And what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“A heroine of the Soviet Union raising lots of children for the state and party.”

The inspector looks round and sees a Jewish boy tucked away at the back trying to look inconspicuous. He points and says, “What’s your name?”
The boy replies, “Mendel Abramovitch.”
“Who is your father?”
“The Soviet Union.”
“Who is your mother?”
“The communist party.”
“And what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Mendel replies, “An orphan.”



Quotes about Rehabilitation

Restorative justice is not a replacement of retributive justice, but a complement. It seeks the rehabilitation of the wrongdoer and the repair of the victim’s injury. Lewis B. Smedes

The subject of criminal rehabilitation was debated recently in City Hall. It’s an appropriate place for this kind of discussion because the city has always employed so many ex-cons and future cons. Mike Royko

We have developed our own approach towards rehabilitating people, involving psychological rehabilitation, social rehab within families and of our Religious Rehabilitation Group. Tony Tan

Many years ago, when I was working on Broadway, I used to go to a drug rehabilitation centre on Sundays. I didn’t lecture them against the perils of drug-taking; I gave them drama therapy. Diana Rigg





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Torah Portion Humor – Tazria (Lev.12:1 – 13:59), Shabbat Rosh Chodesh (Num. 28:9 – 15), Shabbat HaChodesh (Ex. 12:1 – 20)

This week’s Torah portion, Tazria, delves further into causes of ritual impurity, not generally one’s favorite topic. At least it’s short.  It concerns ritual impurity associated with childbirth and with tzara’at, a skin affliction, formerly incorrectly identified with leprosy (Hansen’s disease), that the rabbis associate with slander.

It’s also Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, so there’s a second scroll reading, Numbers 28:9-15, about the prescribed new moon sacrifices.

But wait – there’s more!

There’s a third reading, Exodus 12:1-20, for Shabbat HaChodesh, the Sabbath of THE month, i.e., Nisan, which occurs on or right before (this year, on) Rosh Chodesh Nisan.  It’s the 4th of the four special Shabbatot with special readings in preparation for Passover.  The haftarah (Ezekiel 45:16-46:18, 45:18-46:13 for Sephardim), is a vision of Passover observance in messianic times.

That’s right, 3 readings from 3 books in 3 scrolls.

Back to Tazria an ritual purity.  The word “pure” evokes such nice images (setting aside “racial purity” of course): freshness.  cleanliness, innocence, simplicity, truth, a lack of contamination. Ritual purity and impurity mainly affect one’s ability to go to the sanctuary and to join the community in eating certain sacrifices.  The ritual purity we deal with in the Torah is assumed.  That is, the normal state is purity, until that is disturbed in specified ways.  Further, Ritual impurity (tumah) is contracted by 1) contact with certain animal remains, 2) childbirth, 3) tzara’at, 4) genital discharges, and 5) contact with a human corpse.  Tazria deals with 2) and 3).

Childbirth is dealt with in Chapter 12, a mere 8 verses. For seven days after the birth, a woman who has a boy cannot go to the sanctuary or have relations with her husband, and she makes objects impure by sitting or lying on them.  On the eighth day, the boy is circumcised.  After the first seven days, she is impure, but only with respect to the sanctuary, for an additional thirty-three days.  Then she brings a burnt offering and a sin offering to the sanctuary, the priest makes atonement for her, and she is declared “clean.”  The process is the same if the baby is a girl, except there is no circumcision and the time is doubled from seven and thirty-three to fourteen and sixty-six, a total of eighty days.

It is unclear, even to the rabbinic commentators over the centuries, why the time of impurity is doubled for a girl. Baruch Levine in the JPS Commentary on Leviticus suggests that the doubling reflects the daughter’s potential fertility; the mother, who bleeds, has produced someone else who will eventually bleed and give birth.  This seems to me the most reasonable explanation, though not entirely satisfactory.  Levine also notes that requiring a sin offering doesn’t mean the woman is at fault, just impure.  The sin offering then is to remove this impurity and restore her access to the sanctuary.  The burnt offering is then her first act of worship on being restored fully to the community.

The tumah associated with childbirth leads to profound considerations of life and death.  I wrote in 1997 (Sisterhood Shabbat 1997 Comments on Tazria), “In both the original text and the commentaries on this chapter, we find marked ambivalence.  …  The baby is ritually clean, and God has commanded that we be fruitful and multiply, and barrenness is regarded as a great sorrow.   Yet the mother is considered impure enough to be ritually separated from the community for several weeks ….  In Midrash Rabbah, the rabbis express awe at the miracles of conception, pregnancy, birth, and nursing and also disgust at what one rabbi refers to as nauseating substances that accompany the birth.” Childbirth, places in opposition miracle and filth, heaven and earthiness, purity (the baby) and impurity (the woman, as she recovers), life and death, resulting in the strongly positive and strongly negative vibes that come through in the rabbinical texts. 

The rest of the portion deals with diagnosing tzara’at, which must be done by a priest.  This concerns skin discoloration, odd white or yellow hairs, unexplained baldness, skin discolorations that are white or white streaked with red, and cloth or leather that has red or green streaks.  Purification requirements are given in next week’s portion.

An early Shabbat shalom,

(This is being sent out early in the week for scheduling reasons.)


tph bargaining


tph suspicious moles



tph asking-woman-if-shes-pregnant




A member of the United States Senate, known for his hot temper and acid tongue, exploded one day in mid-session and began to shout, “Half of this Senate is made up of cowards and corrupt politicians!”

All the other Senators demanded that the angry member withdraw his statement or be removed from the remainder of the session.

After a long pause, the angry member acquiesced. “OK,” he said, “I withdraw what I said. Half of this Senate is NOT made up of cowards and corrupt politicians!”



Quotes about Purity

Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind. Leonardo da Vinci

Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature. Thomas a Kempis

There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it. Unknown

An all-white space has a purity that is refreshing and serene. Mary Helen Bowers

It is astonishing what force, purity, and wisdom it requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods. Margaret Fuller




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Shemini (Lev. 9:1 – 11:47), Shabbat Parah (Num. 19:1-22)

From 2016, edited a bit.

This week: a stupendous ceremony that ends tragically, clean and unclean animals, and an extra portion about a red-haired young cow.

We begin with the ending.  Tomorrow is Shabbat Parah, the third of four Shabbatot before Passover on which we read from a second scroll.  This reading is Numbers 19:1-22, about the totally red heifer that is sacrificed and burned with a few added ingredients to make ashes that are dispersed in water and sprinkled for use in ritual purification.  The special haftarah, Ezekiel 36:16-38, uses this sprinkling as an analogy for the Lord’s purification of Israel.

Back to the weekly reading.  As Shemini  begins, it is the eighth day of the ordination period, Aaron’s debut  as High Priest.  He offers a series of sacrifices, performing flawlessly.  There’s a spectacular finish:

9:23 And Moses and Aaron went into the Tent of Meeting. Then they came out and blessed the people, and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. 24And fire went forth from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fats upon the altar, and all the people saw, sang praises, and fell upon their faces.


In the very next verse, Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu deviate from the script, make their own offering of incense, and are consumed by fire.  Aaron is stunned into silence while Moses does damage control.  Tradition has it that either the sons were disrespectful and maybe drunk, or they were overcome by ecstasy and couldn’t help themselves.    I think they were a little let down by their minor role, giving Aaron blood to dash against the altar, and decided to throw in a little incense.  They clearly didn’t get the importance of following the Lord’s detailed instructions precisely as given.

The rest of Shemini is taken up with clean and unclean animals and the concepts of purity and impurity.  Purity and impurity figure greatly in the next couple of portions (as well as in the readings for Shabbat Parah this week), so this week let’s consider kosher and unkosher animals.

There have been lots of suggestions over the millennia as to the sources of the laws of kashrut (“kosher-ness,” if you will).  A few of the summaries of various approaches include Chapter 3 of Purity and Danger by Mary T. DouglasClean and Unclean Animals by Emil G. Hirsch et al., Dietary Laws by Solomon Schechter et al., and Studies in Vayikra by Nehama Leibowitz, vol. 1, pp. 144-155.   Here are a few:

  1. Physical health.Maimonides likes this one.  And Philo writes (Douglas, op. cit., p. 45), ‘The lawgiver sternly forbade all animals … whose flesh is the finest and fattest, like that of pigs and scaleless fish, knowing that they produced gluttony. And we’ve all heard about pigs and trichinosis.  However, Abravanel objects that many poisonous creatures are not explicitly forbidden, and  Isaac ben Moses Arama (Akedat Yitzhak) notes non-Jews eat non-kosher animals with no adverse physical effects.
  2. Spiritual health.Nachmanides: predators are not spiritually good to eat.  Abravanel stresses that the Torah calls unkosher animals “unclean,” not poisonous or harmful, pointing to a spiritually-based prohibition.
  3. Separation from idolaters and idolatry. Some outlawed animals figured in idolatrous practices, and certainly kashrut laws of food enforced separation of Jews and non-Jews socially.
  4. Local non-Hebrew influences.Schechter et al. ( cit.) write about the similarity of unkosher animals to animals prohibited to priests in ancient Hindu, Babylonian, and Egyptian laws.  Zaehner suggests that the Jewish abomination of creeping things may have been taken over from Zoroastrianism.  However, those unclean animals were to be hunted down and destroyed, an approach not found in Leviticus.

Mary Douglas notes (p. 44) that most interpretations “fall into one of two groups: either the rules are meaningless, arbitrary because their intent is disciplinary and not doctrinal, or they are allegories of virtues and vices.  She rejects these and goes back to square one: The Biblical texts (p. 50-58).  The laws are intended to bring order to chaos and, particularly in Leviticus to promote holiness: “To be holy is to be whole, to be one; holiness is unity, integrity, perfection of the individual and of the kind. The dietary rules merely develop the metaphor of holiness on the same lines… To grasp this scheme we need to go back to Genesis and the creation.”  There are three basic elements: earth, the waters, and the firmament.  In Leviticus, proper (“clean”) animals are basically those that live and move about in one of these elements.  “Leviticus takes up this scheme and allots to each element its proper kind of animal life. In the firmament two-legged fowls fly with wings. In the water scaly fish swim with fins. On the earth four-legged animals hop, jump or walk. Any class of creatures which is not equipped for the right kind of locomotion in its element is contrary to holiness.”

I think that’s more than enough food for thought for you for now.

Shabbat shalom,



Sometimes, it’s good to ad lib.

50 Famous Movie Lines That Were Ad-Libbed (selections)

“I’m king of the world”
The most famous like from Titanic wasn’t even in the script. When Leonardo DiCaprio got on the ship for the first time, he shouted the phrase, and James Cameron liked it so much that he put it in the movie.

“Here’s looking at you, kid”
This classic line from Casablanca wasn’t in the original script. Rather, it was something Humphrey Bogart said to Ingrid Bergman when he was teaching her how to play poker offscreen, and he brought it into the film.

“Are you talking to me?”
Robert DeNiro‘s famous scene with himself in Taxi Driver was entirely improvised. The script merely said that he “speaks to himself in the mirror.”

 “And what did that produce? The cuckoo clock”
Orson Welles made up this little speech in The Third Man,which kind of makes sense. After all, you’d basically have to be Orson Welles to have the courage to mess with a script written by Graham Greene, who is widely considered one of the great writers of the 20th century.

“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli”
Actor Richard Castellano‘s original line in The Godfather was simply “leave the gun.” Castellano decided to have a little fun and added on “take the cannoli,” and in doing so, he created one of the most popular lines from the film.

“I didn’t know you could read” 
Tom Felton made up this little insult in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and it stayed in the final cut, helping to paint a picture of Draco Malfoy as a little bully.



Quotes about Silence

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph. Haile Selassie

We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Elie Wiesel

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. Helen Keller

Much talking is the cause of danger. Silence is the means of avoiding misfortune. The talkative parrot is shut up in a cage. Other birds, without speech, fly freely about. Saskya Pandita

In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood. Henry David Thoreau



(12 of) 30 Things Only Redheads Will Understand

By Grace Noles – 26 Mar 2018

We’re here to educate everyone who may not know on the daily ups and downs of living on the “strawberry blonde” side of life.

2.Every time you meet someone new you get asked if your hair is “real?”

3.“You’re good looking for a ginger” is the easiest way to spot a douchebag.

8.Making sure you’re clothed head-to-toe whenever you step into the sunlight.

9.Being covered head-to-toe in sunburn and freckles despite #8.

10.Being asked if you’re a Weasley whenever any Harry Potter movie is mentioned.

16.People constantly say you look like Lindsay Lohan/Prince Harry/Amy Adams/literally any other redheaded celebrity.

18.Bees love you.

20.People mistaking you for other redheads they know. This is weird. I don’t mistake you for another brunette person who looks nothing like you whatsoever.

23.People keep tagging you in those “gingers are going extinct” Facebook articles.

25.You were stoked when you found out gingers have genetic super powers. (Creating our own vitamin D? Having a higher pain tolerance? Just being funnier and more popular overall? That’s us!)

26.Making eye contact with another red head in public and feeling a sense of comradery.

30.Hating your hair as a child but now that you’ve grown up and ~matured~ you can appreciate how awesome and unique your hair colour is.



Why Eating Meat Was Banned in Japan for Centuries (abridged as noted)

The reasons were both religious and practical.


ON FEBRUARY 18, 1872, A group of Japanese Buddhist monks broke into the Imperial Palace to seek an audience with the emperor. In the ensuing fight with the guards, half of them were killed. … A few weeks earlier, the emperor had eaten beef, effectively repealing a 1,200-year-old ban on consuming animals. The monks believed the new trend of eating meat was “destroying the soul of the Japanese people.”

…(T)he Japanese mostly avoided eating meat for more than 12 centuries. Beef was especially taboo…Japan’s shift away from meat began with the arrival of Buddhism from Korea in the 6th century… Buddhism teaches that humans can be reincarnated into other living beings, including animals. Meat eaters run the risk of consuming their own reincarnated ancestors: not a very palatable thought. …

In 675 A.D., Emperor Tenmu issued the first official decree banning consumption of beef, horse, dog, chicken, and monkey…from April to September.  As time went on, the practice would be … expanded into a year-round taboo against all meat eating.

But the meat ban also had secular roots. … Japan has always relied on fish and seafood as staples. Additionally, writes historian Naomishi Ishige, “protein was ingested from rice rather than from meat or milk.” …

(E)ating wild animals wasn’t completely unheard of. Plus, the Japanese aristocracy never completely gave up the practice. … Meat … was often treated as a special food with medicinal properties. … In the 18th century, the Hikone Clan sent their annual gift of beef pickled in sake to the shogun in packages labeled as medicine.

Some mammals were more forbidden than others. According to Ishige, “the Buddhist concept of the transmigration of souls and the taboo on mammal meat became linked, and the belief spread that a person who ate the flesh of a four-legged animal would after death be reincarnated as a four-legged animal.” …

Portuguese missionaries …in Japan in the early 16th century were able to spread some of their cuisine to the locals, including… beef…Dietary customs began to change faster in the late 19th century. …(M)any believed “that one reason why the Japanese had poor physiques compared to Westerners was that they did not eat meat or dairy products,” writes Ishige.

In the end, the wishes of the Emperor prevailed. …Today, the Japanese eat almost as much meat as they do seafood… (M)eat is now as much a part of Japanese cuisine as sushi.

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Tzav (Lev. 6:1 – 8:36)

This week: a coveted cleaning job, the “why” of sacrifices, and the ordination of Aaron and his sons.  First, more on the olah, the burnt (totally) offering. After it burns overnight, only ashes remain. The priest, dressed in linen ritual garments, removes the ashes, placing them next to the altar. Then he changes into something more suitable for taking out the trash and takes the ashes outside the camp.  This, according to the Mishnah, was a highly sought-after job, so much that, after a priest broke his leg when pushed by another racing to claim the honor, a formal rotation was set up (Yoma 3:1). It was even claimed in later commentaries that one priest had actually killed another in such a race (Reuven Hammer, A Year with the Sages: Wisdom on the Weekly Torah Portion (2019), p. 228).

This week, we get more into the details associated with the various sacrifices. In the back of ArtScroll’s Stone edition of the Chumash, there are several pages of tables summarizing how, what, when, where, and by whom each type of sacrifice should be offered.  You also learn where an animal is slaughtered; how
blood is applied to the altar, where specifically, and how many times; and what happens to the meat: if it’s eaten, where, when, and by whom.  After years of doing this, a priest would probably have internalized the details, but I think it would have been useful to have a condensed crib sheet nearby.  Note that, while the Torah presents mechanics, the rabbis in the Mishnah are concerned with the priest’s intent during the process; wrong intent means invalid sacrifice.   

Finally, Aaron and his sons are ordained by Moses, in front of the assembled people.   Moses washes Aaron and his sons with water, dresses Aaron in High Priest garb, sprinkles anointing oil on the Tabernacle and everything in it and the altar, and then on Aaron, and dresses Aaron’s sons.  Then, Moses sacrifices a bull (sin offering), a ram (burnt offering), and a second ram (ordination offering). Other elements of the ordination involve blood dashing and dotting, unleavened bread, fat, and more anointing oil, detailed in the rest of Chapter 8.  The ordination is not simply a celebration, but a period of expiation for Aaron and his sons as well (8:34). It takes seven days, during which Aaron and his sons remain on guard at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.

One musical note (pun probably not intended): The slaughter of the second ram, the ram of ordination, is marked in the text by a shalshelet, a cantillation sign which occurs only 4 times in the Torah and which is a sign of hesitation.  Is Moses hesitant about giving up the priestly duties? Or maybe he’s hesitant about giving them up to Aaron and his sons per se?  We shall see if concern is justified.

Shabbat shalom,



When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

Selected answers:

  • Just invite them over for the barbecue and they will forgive you.
  • I think that smiting is not in fashion any more. I smite be wrong, but unlikely.
  • Yes, with fire and brimstone preferably. (This one’s my favorite. IGP)
  • Only if you really, really like them. Because remember that if you smite them, they will be, by definition, smitten. So only smite the cute ones.


(Judaized. Dead link – I’ve sent this out a couple times before.)
Ten reasons why men should not be ordained as rabbis 
1. Men are too emotional. Their conduct at sporting events proves this. 
2. A man’s place is in the military. 
3. Some men are so handsome, they will distract female worshipers. 
4. Male physiology indicates that men are more suited to tasks like chopping down trees, unearthing rocks, and wrestling with wild animals. It would be “unnatural” for men to do other forms of work. 
5. In the Bible, the male Israelites persist in losing faith and disobeying God.  Indeed, the phrase “Children of Israel” is more accurately translated “Sons of Israel.”  Their poor judgment and lack of faith represent the character of their gender. This justifies the subordinate position all men should take in matters of spiritual formation. 
6. Men are overly prone to violence. “Real” men prefer to settle disputes with immature displays of prowess and domination. Thus, they make poor role models and are dangerously unstable in positions of leadership. 
7. To be an ordained pulpit rabbi today is to nurture the congregation. Nurturing is not a traditional male role. Through all history, women have proven more skilled at nurturing and more naturally attracted to it. This makes women the obvious choice for ordination. 
8. In Genesis, man was created before women, obviously as a prototype.  Thus, men represent an experiment. Women represent the crowning achievement of creation, a more perfect image of God’s intent for humanity. 
9. For men who have children, the rabbinic duties may distract them from their responsibilities as fathers. 
10. Men can find meaningful and satisfying roles in synagogue activities without being ordained. They can still sweep sidewalks, repair the roof, and maybe even lead portions of worship services on Father’s Day. By embracing such traditional roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the synagogue. 


Personal note from 2008: Note that Moses had to wash Aaron and his sons before anointing them. I remember when my husband and I decided that one of his child care duties was to bathe our infant daughter nightly. Problem: she didn’t like it.
It reached a point where he was concerned that she would not be able to
relate to him well because she would associate him primarily with
something she strongly disliked. Then he put her little bathtub on top of
the bathroom counter and she was entranced, because the way the mirrors
met at the corner of the bathroom allowed her to see three Rozzies.
Problem solved!


From 2014: Ashes: Shirley Temple and Marsha Mae Jones

Speaking of ashes – Because Shirley Temple died recently, Turner Classic Movies showed several of her movies last Sunday in her memory.  There was also a clip of Marsha Mae Jones (1924-2007), who had co-starred with her in “Heidi” (as nice rich girl Klara, with Mary Nash as the nasty housekeeper) and then in “The Little Princess” (as mean rich girl Lavinia, with Mary Nash as the nasty headmistress).  As the adult Marsha Mae recalled, the two girls had been very friendly during “Heidi,” so she didn’t want to be Lavinia.  For her part, Shirley had no trouble adjusting.  After a scene in which Shirley (as Sara Crewe) dumped a whole coal scuttle full of ashes on Lavinia’s head, the moppet asked the director, “Can we do that again?”



‘Clearly the smartest kid in the class’: Student brings massive cheat sheet to exam after professor didn’t specify ‘inches’ for the 3×5 card each student was allowed

PUBLISHED: 09:32 EDT, 22 September 2017 | UPDATED: 07:07 EDT, 23 September 2017

It was the first test day of the semester on Tuesday for assistant college professor Reb Beatty and his accounting class at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Maryland. 

‘First test day of the semester and as always, I allow a 3×5 notecard,’ Beatty wrote.

‘Today, a student (identified as Elijah Bowen) shows up with this.

tph cheat sheet

‘Sure enough, it is 3×5… feet. As precise as I am, apparently I never specified inches and therefore yes, it was allowed. 

‘Well played and lesson learned for me.’ 

The photo was first posted to Instagram before being shared on Facebook where it’s received more than 20,000 ‘reactions’ and been shared more than 17,700 times.

Social media users praised the student’s ingenuity in outwitting the professor.

‘This student has an eye for detail… That’s an excellent quality in accounting,’ wrote one user.

‘Clearly the smartest kid in class,’ commented another.

One user joked: ‘I would like to interview this person for [a] future position [with] my company.’

(I had a calculus teacher who also allowed a 3×5 card, but I think he did specify inches.  I managed to cover both sides with the semester’s material in such tiny print that I marveled at it.  I kept the card for years. I don’t think I’d be able to read it today.  IGP)

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Torah Portion Humor, sort of – Purim Edition

Purim: What it is and how to observe Read the Book of Esther; it’s not that long and reads like a novel, which it may well be. [Quick scorecard: Mordechai is the hero and the uncle of Esther, a nice Jewish girl who “passes” and marries the somewhat dim-witted Persian king, Achashveirosh (or Ahashuerus or… probably Xerxes) in place of his uppity wife Vashti. The villain is Haman, a courtier who wants to kill all the Jews.] Eat hamantaschen, get drunk (safely), give to the poor.  If you visit Iran as a tourist someday, Susa (aka “Shushan”) is where the Biblical action is set (“Site-Seeing: Surprising Susa” by Todd Bolen in Bible History Today, 03/18/2019).  You can still see the site of the palace built there by Darius in the 6th century BCE, consisting of a private residence of 9 acres and a public audience hall (apadana) of 3 acres.

On a more philosophical note, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wrote that, in addition to the holiday of Purim, this whole month of Adar is supposed to be joyful and therapeutic (The Therapeutic Joy of Purim). Indeed, in the Talmud we read, Mishe-nichnas Adar marbim be-simcha: ‘From the beginning of Adar, we increase in joy.”

“On Purim the Final Solution was averted. But it had been pronounced. Ever afterward, Jews knew their vulnerability. The very existence of Purim in our historical memory is traumatic.

“The Jewish response to trauma is counterintuitive and extraordinary. You defeat fear by joy. You conquer terror by collective celebration. You prepare a festive meal, invite guests, give gifts to friends. While the story is being told, you make a rumbustious noise as if not only to blot out the memory of Amalek, but to make a joke out of the whole episode. You wear masks. You drink a little too much. You make a Purim spiel.

“Precisely because the threat was so serious, you refuse to be serious – and in that refusal you are doing something very serious indeed. You are denying your enemies a victory. You are declaring that you will not be intimidated.”

Happy Purim,



Top Ten Status Updates on Facebook for Purim

10.Jews of Shushan plan on attending “Achashveirosh Gone Wild” 
9.  Vashti and Achashveirosh are no longer in a relationship.
8. Esther was tagged in an album “Shushan’s Next Top Maidel” 
7. Esther removed ‘Jewish’ from her profile status
6.Bigson/Teresh’s* wall-to-wall conversation was read by Mordechai
5.Haman created a new group “Kill all 600,000 Jews on Facebook”
4. King Achashveirosh updated his status: ‘Still can’t sleep!’
3. Haman built a killer ‘Gallow’ application
2. Haman pokes Esther; Haman’s profile is removed due to abuse
1.Everyone’s current status: Any good costume ideas?

*Two men who plotted to assassinate the king and were exposed by Mordechai.



tph purim scared



Purim Shpiel: Megillat Esther Alternative Names (2014) (selections, v. lightly edited)

Abbot: “Ready for Megillat Esther?” (the “scroll of Esther”)

Costellowitz: “Well actually where I come from, well – we call that book different things”

Abbot: “Like what?”

Costellowitz: “Well – say the guy who is reading is laughing and joking the whole time –   We called that Megillat Jester”

If he is from Mexico, Megillat Siesta

If the reader has a scarlet letter A –   Megillat Hester

If you accidentally read the megillah a day early, it’s called Megillat Yester

If you let that Purim story seep in so it affects your whole being, it’s called Megillat Fester

Now, if your sister reads the megillah for you, it’s called Megillat Schvester

If you read the megillah in a cheap shirt, it’s called Megillat Polyester

If you’re pregnant, it’s called Megillat Trimester

If you’re ever stuck in a courtroom and have to read the megillah, it’s Megillat Sequester

If you read the megillah on a college campus, it’s Megillat Semester

If you read the megillah with an annoying relative, it’s Megillat Pester



J Street Protests Purim; Claims Haman Was ‘Misunderstood’ (2011)

Washington, D.C. — J Street, the pro-Israel, pro-peace, propane and pro-forma lobby, announced today that the observance of the ancient Jewish holiday of Purim only serves to further alienate Jews from their Iranian and Arab enemies who seek to destroy them.

“Jews should not be reveling in the deaths of Persians that took place thousands of years ago,” Jeremy (Uncle) Ben asserted. “After all, how would Jews like it if Arabs reveled in their misfortunes?”

Informed that many Arabs do revel in Jewish misfortunes, he replied: “Oh,” and later said he never claimed otherwise.

Uncle Ben explained that J Street specifically sought to ban the wearing of Purim costumes by Jewish children, as well as the general spirit of gleefulness demonstrated by Jewish adults.

“Our official Purim policy is Don’t Mask, Don’t Kvell,” he insisted.



Top Ten Reasons the NCAA Tournament Needs to be on Purim

10.Stomping/Air Horns/ when hearing opponents name is normal
9.Queen Esther taught us when entered into a contest, never doubt the underdog
8.64 different uniforms make for a good costume party
7.The tourney feels as long as the megillah
6.Binge drinking every round now a mitzvah
5.Will definitely invest your Matanos Levyonim* cash into a NCAA pool
4.Sitting on your couch for 3 hours with friends, over-drinking/eating, screaming, making jokes…sounds like an awesome NCAA/seudah (festive meal) to me
3.On Purim, all your prayers are answered, including ones involving St. Joseph’s going all the way
2.Somebody will get unseated, dethroned, upset.
1.Misha Nichnas March, Marbim B’Madness

* the mitzvah of giving at least one gift to two different poor people on Purim day

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