First Two Days of Pesach

In case you were curious, “paschal” is indeed etymologically linked to “pesach,” i.e., Passover:

paschal (adj.)  early 15c., “of or pertaining to Easter,” from Old French paschal (12c.) and directly from Late Latin paschalis, from pascha “Passover, Easter,” from Greek pascha “Passover,” from Aramaic (Semitic) pasha “pass over,” corresponding to Hebrew pesah, from pasah “he passed over.” (see Passover). Pasche was an early Middle English term for “Easter” (see Easter).

Progress!  The carpets are being cleaned as I type, I’ve vacuumed my car, my husband and I have done most of the Pesach shopping, the tax info is ready for tomorrow’s meeting with the accountant, the stove will be repaired tomorrow, my husband is duly practicing his 2nd day Torah reading and has finalized the menu for the Seder (same for Friday and Saturday) to be prepared here and transported to the Greenwald homestead in Merion, and finishing the kitchen prep, even cleaning the refrigerator looks to be a tad easier than usual.

In case you haven’t guessed, I have mixed feelings about Passover/Pesach.  Once the holiday starts, I’m fine.  My husband and I totally share getting ready, and the tasks involved with getting ready could be a lot more onerous – for example, my mother, as a small child, had to stay up very late chopping fish to help her mother make gefilte fish for all the aunts, uncles, and cousins.  And there are always foods we could, but don’t, eat at other times during the year.  And, if we wanted to, we could have or find a big Seder instead of our lightly-populated ones.  But that wouldn’t banish my sense of being surrounded by the ghosts of a lost past.

From 2016, lightly edited, with 2003 nested therein:

I realize you are more likely to be recovering from the sedarim, either from preparation or overindulging, this Saturday and Sunday morning.  Are you really interested in a discourse on the Torah readings …?  Me neither.  But here’s my handy-dandy crib sheet:

March 31, 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 1, 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.

I wrote this in 2003:

“… The seder provokes reminiscing as effectively as Proust’s madeleine.  Some of my own memories:  the 1959 seder that was cancelled because I came down with scarlet fever that afternoon.  1972, subjecting my then-college classmate (future husband) Rich to the scrutiny of 21 of my relatives (my four little cousins, aged 1 to 5, provided a bit of welcome distraction).  1989: passing on the Ma Nishtana baton to daughter Roz (I transliterated it for her) after decades of my being the youngest at the table, along with the strangeness of a seder without my father.  And then there are the treasured objects: Great-uncle Mitchell’s wine glass, the coin silver spoons and Cup of Elijah from Poland, the haggadah with my brother’s adolescent smart alecky scribblings in it.  How appropriate this all occurs at a season when we celebrate life and renewal.”

That was 13 (now 15) years ago.  I have other memories from childhood Passovers that are as clear, like the year I put together a little model of a seder table with 18 place settings (that year’s attendance) that included 18 little aluminum foil kiddush cups.  Or the year I got the mumps after the seder but during the holiday.  But the last 13 years are more of a blur as I look back.  I remember enlarging the pages of the haggadah so my mother could follow along.  I remember the year she was in Lankenau or rehab and we transmitted the seder to her by phone until she dozed off.  As years went by, my mother became increasingly confused about the calendar and what had happened to whom when, often conflating incidents.  One manifestation was her anxiety about the seder, starting months ahead of time: Who’s doing what?  Was there anything she needed to do?  What about the (fill in the blank)?  And our responses were 1) Everything is or will be taken care of and 2) The seder isn’t for another 8 months anyway.  But one thing she never became befuddled about was who we were, and for that I am grateful.

I wish you all a “zissun Pesach” (sweet Passover) and Shabbat Shalom.



This is also from 2003/2016, passed along in 2003 by Arlene M-S:

Alert: New Psychiatric Disorder added to DSM-IV-R

PPCD: Pre-Pesach Cleaning Disorder This is a recently discovered disorder, recognized as a seasonal disorder, usually appearing in early spring. It is characterized by obsessive thinking about cleanliness, far out of normal proportions. It is distinguished from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 300.3 by several symptoms:

  • Obsessive focusing on small particles of food throughout the house, to the extent of climbing onto bookshelves and behind toilets to ferret out particles smaller than the eye can see. Compulsive washing of objects that are ostensibly clean (e.g., one Patient was found putting her children’s Legos into a sock bag and washing them. This was discovered by a disturbed neighbor who couldn’t figure out what could possibly be banging so loudly and incessantly in the dryer. The patient, when confronted said, “Well, what did you expect– for me to put them in the toy box wet!”)
  • Incessant moving of common objects from their normal places (e.g., dishes, silverware, etc. are wrapped up and/or banished from their normal shelves and drawers.)
  • Talking with friends and acquaintances about topics formerly of no interest (e.g., effectiveness of different oven cleaners, location of most pungent horseradish.)

This disorder seems to occur in a social context. Frequently, groups of women experience PPCD simultaneously.

Presumptive symptoms: Spring time frame. Patient is a woman, although entire households can be affected. Patient reports insomnia. Patient has red hands. Patient has a heavy odor of cleaning substances. Patient does not have time to talk about it.

Treatment: This disorder has a guarded prognosis. Although patients uniformly recover within several weeks, they tend to relapse around the same time each year.*

*There are reports of cessation of symptoms if they are taken away to a hotel for a week each year.


tph easter bunny at the seder


Some people enjoy a really, really, long seder, far into the night, with lots of people, singing, and discussion. Others just want a skeletal outline and the meal, whence the two-minute Haggadah below. There’s a 10-minute version if you want it short but kosher i.e., including everything that must be included.

The Two-Minute Haggadah – A Passover service for the impatient.

By Michael Rubiner (2006)

tph seder woodcut

Opening prayers:
Thanks, God, for creating wine. (Drink wine.)
Thanks for creating produce. (Eat parsley.)
Overview: Once we were slaves in Egypt. Now we’re free. That’s why we’re doing this.

Four questions:
1. What’s up with the matzoh?
2. What’s the deal with horseradish?
3. What’s with the dipping of the herbs?
4. What’s this whole slouching at the table business?

1. When we left Egypt, we were in a hurry. There was no time for making decent bread.
2. Life was bitter, like horseradish.
3. It’s called symbolism.
4. Free people get to slouch.

A funny story: Once, these five rabbis talked all night, then it was morning. (Heat soup now.)

The four kinds of children and how to deal with them:
Wise child—explain Passover.
Simple child—explain Passover slowly.
Silent child—explain Passover loudly.
Wicked child—browbeat in front of the relatives.

Speaking of children: We hid some matzoh. Whoever finds it gets five bucks.

The story of Passover: It’s a long time ago. We’re slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh is a nightmare. We cry out for help. God brings plagues upon the Egyptians. We escape, bake some matzoh. God parts the Red Sea. We make it through; the Egyptians aren’t so lucky. We wander 40 years in the desert, eat manna, get the Torah, wind up in Israel, get a new temple, enjoy several years without being persecuted again. (Let brisket cool now.)

The 10 Plagues: Blood, Frogs, Lice—you name it.

The singing of “Dayenu”:
If God had gotten us out of Egypt and not punished our enemies, it would’ve been enough. If he’d punished our enemies and not parted the Red Sea, it would’ve been enough.
If he’d parted the Red Sea— (Remove gefilte fish from refrigerator now.)
Eat matzoh. Drink more wine. Slouch.
Thanks again, God, for everything.

Seder pickup lines: (selected)

  • Let’s make this night really different from all others nights
  • What’s a girl like you doing at a seder like this?
  • If 600,000 people can get taken out, one more couldn’t hurt
  • I hear that horseradish is an aphrodisiac
  • Did that just say we were in bondage?
  • I could never Pass you Over…
  • We were strangers…. emphasis on “were”
  • I’m going to have to search you for chometz
  • How’s about we go re-live the “Darkness” plague up in my room.
  • I’m like one of the four sons; let me show you how wicked I can be.


Hmmm…Next year – Zombie or Hogwarts?

 tph 10-quirky-passover-haggadot-IIHIH





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Tzav (Lev. 6:1 – 8:36), Shabbat HaGadol


From 2015 (lightly edited)

This week’s portion, Tzav (“command,” verb, imperative) gets more into the nitty gritty of the rituals of the burnt offering, the meal offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the offering of well-being, the sacrifice of well-being, and the offerings for the upcoming ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests.  This time, the emphasis is on what gets eaten by whom, when, and in what form.  Most of the fat and all of the blood is not eaten.

Now Moses takes Aaron along with his sons and carries out an elaborate ritual involving anointing Aaron, his sons, their vestments, and Tabernacle, and its contents; sacrificing two rams and a bull; and dotting each new priest’s right ear, right thumb, and right big toe with ram’s blood, all in front of the entire community.  The new priests then must stand guard at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting for seven days to complete their ordination.  A note from 2014: “(I)n verse 8:23, when Moses slaughters the second ram, the word for “slaughter” has the rare shalshelet cantillation sign  tph shalshelet for tzav  above it which is a sign of hesitation.  Is Moses hesitant about turning the priestly responsibilities over to Aaron and sons because of a lack of confidence in them?  Does he have a sense of foreboding about what’s going to happen … after the ordination ceremonies are completed?”

This is Shabbat HaGadol, “the great Sabbath,” which occurs right before Passover.  There’s no second scroll reading, but there is a special haftarah, from the last chapter of Prophets: Malachi 3:4-24, which looks toward messianic times, whose arrival apparent is contingent upon the reconciling parents and children (3:24).  Shabbat HaGadol was also traditionally one of only two times a year when the rabbi gave a sermon, to teach the laws of Passover observance.  Since Shabbat HaGadol occurs one week or less before the holiday, we learn from this that the people were not expected to spend weeks or months in preparation and/or that their lives used to be simple enough that only a few days’ prep was necessary.

One tie-in between Tzav and our modern holiday observance is found in 6:3-4, about the remnants of the burnt offering: “3 The priest shall dress in linen raiment, with linen breeches next to his body; and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and place them beside the altar. 4 He shall then take off his vestments and put on other vestments and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place.”  Yes, cleaning.  Note that the ashes are removed carefully, even reverentially.  In fact, we read in the Mishnah (Yoma 2:1-2)) that priests would fight over the honor of removing the ashes.  We don’t fight today over who gets to clean out the chametz (specified leavened foods, crumbs) and schmutz (dirt) in preparation for Passover; indeed there are services for this in New York (see “Crumb Busters!”) but not in my neck of the woods.  But perhaps this section of Torah will inspire us at least to clean mindfully as well as thoroughly, ever aware of why we are doing this.  That should make it a lot less irritating.

Shabbat shalom,


Welsh pub renames beer after seminarian mix-up (excerpts)

CARDIFF, Wales – How does a pub make up for mistakenly trying to kick out a group of celebrating seminarians? By naming a beer after them and calling it the “Thirsty Priests.”

Tim Lewis is the PR Manager for Brains, the company which owns the City Arms Pub in Cardiff, Wales.

 “We wanted to do something as a ‘thank you’ to the priests for taking the misunderstanding in such good spirits,” said Lewis, according to Wales Online.

Described as a “rich, warming ale with a clean, rewarding finish,” The Rev James beer was renamed the “Thirsty Priests,” with the added slogan “saving souls and satisfying thirsts.”

While celebrating the July 29 ordination of Father Peter McClaren, a group of seminarians dressed in their cassocks entered the City Arms Pub, only to be turned away by staff members who mistook them for a bachelor party.

“The staff thought they were a stag. We do have quite a few issues on the weekends with parties wearing fancy dress so it is our policy to turn them away,” said assistant manager Matt Morgan, according to the BBC.

But as the seminarians were about to leave the bar, the manager overheard them praying, and, realizing the establishment’s mistake, invited the men back in for a round of beers on the house.

The seminarians took the error in good humor, and were warmly received by staff and customers for the rest of their time at the pub.


Fat Free

  • Diet Day #1 – I removed all the fattening food from my house. It was delicious.
  • I don’t buy fat-free milk because I don’t want to contribute to cows having body issues.


Sermon Humor

One beautiful Sunday morning, a pastor announced to his congregation:   “My good people, I have here in my hands three sermons…a $1000 sermon that lasts five minutes, a $500 sermon that lasts fifteen minutes, and a $100 sermon that lasts a full hour. “Now, we’ll take the collection and see which one I’ll deliver.
A flat-lander was invited to preach in a mountain Baptist church. He was worried, remembering that they eschewed educated preachers and were known for their fundamentalism and simplistic approach to the gospel. He preached with masterful command of allegory and hard truths veiled in simile. At the close of his message he gave the expected invitation and just one old gentleman in starched overalls responded. He came forward and whispered in the minister’s ear, “Young feller, I want you to know that I know that just because the water’s muddy, don’t mean it’s deep!”
A pastor was preaching on the Minor Prophets…all twelve of them in one sermon. After two hours he was only half-way through his message. Everyone was getting
restless. Most had stopped paying attention. After four hours, to everyone’s relief, he said “Finally…”. It was almost over, they thought. Then to their horror, the Pastor said, “Oh my, I forgot about Micah…what shall we do with Micah?”. One old lady sitting right in front could take no more. She stood up and said, “Hey, preacher! Micah can take my seat…I’m going home!”


Love Passover Cleaning

tph passover cleaning ocd


tph taking trash out


From 2014. Speaking of parents, children, and the coming of the Messiah: (abridged)

AP February 4, 2014, 4:04 PM
NEWPORT, Tenn. – An East Tennessee magistrate has been replaced months after ordering a baby’s name changed from Messiah to Martin because she believes Messiah is a title held only by Jesus Christ.

Lu Ann Ballew was a child support magistrate.  Judge Duane Slone terminated Ballew on Friday and appointed a new magistrate.   Ballew, an attorney, still faces a March 3 hearing on accusations that her order to change Messiah’s name violated Tennessee’s Code of Judicial Conduct.  Ballew has denied that her ruling was a violation.

The name change happened in August, when Jalessa Martin and Jawaan McCullough appeared before Ballew at a child support hearing in Newport about their 7-month-old son Messiah Martin. As part of the hearing, the father requested the baby’s last name be changed to McCullough.

Ballew surprised both parents by ordering that the baby’s name change to Martin McCullough. Her written order stated that “Labeling this child ‘Messiah’ places an undue burden on him that as a human being, he cannot fulfill.”  She also said that the name would likely offend many residents of Cocke County, with its large Christian population.

Ballew’s decision was overturned in chancery court a month later, and both parents agreed to name the baby Messiah McCullough.

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Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26), Rosh Chodesh (Num. 28:9-15), Shabbat HaChodesh (Ex. 12:1-20)

I am so very tired of this cold, damp weather.  Spring comes March 20, but that’s just what they say (fake astronomy?).   Perhaps the fact that Passover (Pesach) is approaching should make me feel “spring-ier,” but I’m still in denial about the holiday’s being only two weeks away.

This Shabbat we have a triple header – readings from three Torah scrolls!  First, we have the weekly reading, the start of Leviticus.  Then, since it is Rosh Chodesh (head of the month, new moon), we read Num. 28:9-15, on the Sabbath and Rosh Chodesh sacrifices, from a second scroll.  But wait, there’s more!  It’s also Shabbat HaChodesh (Sabbath of THE Month, THE month being Nissan), the fourth of the four special, pre-Passover Sabbaths with an added Torah reading, so we read Ex. 12:1-20, instructions for observing the first Passover, from a third scroll. [I will give a shout-out next week to the first of you to identify the other Sabbath during the year on which there may be readings from three scrolls.] The haftarah for Shabbat HaChodesh is Ezekiel 45:16-46:18 (45:18-46:13 for Sephardim), a vision of Passover observance in messianic times.  Some congregations have the custom of chanting Isaiah 66:1, 24 as well, taken from the usual Shabbat Rosh Chodesh haftarah, Isaiah 66:1-24.  By the way, since it’s Rosh Chodesh, there are other changes to the service, including  a Chatzi Hallel, Psalms 113-118 minus the first 11 verses of Psalm 115 and Psalm 116. Not a short service.

Back to the regular reading.   It is largely a training and reference manual for priests concerning offerings: In ArtScroll’s Stone edition of the Torah readings, there are about 9 pages of tables in the back organizing this: what is to be offered, why, when, by whom, is it obligatory or voluntary, what happens to the offering (Totally burned? Partly eaten? If so, by whom?), and so on.  [One can imagine all this captured on a set of laminated cards near the altar for easy reference.] A summary of this week’s offerings is provided by Robert Tornberg in Looking through the Smoke: A Transparent Message, to which I’ve referred before (thanks, Stanley), here further summarized:

  • The olah or “elevation,” a voluntary burnt offering of an animal to bring the offerer closer to God.
  • The minchah, a usually voluntary offering made of flour and oil, much more inexpensive than an animal offering and so could be brought by the poor (Leviticus 2:1-16)
  • The zevach sh’lamim, an offering of wellbeing or thanksgiving (Leviticus 3:1-17).  Sort of a celebratory barbecue. Like giving a donation of money today in honor of someone.
  • The chatat, a “sin offering” (Leviticus 4:1-35; 5:1-13), given to atone for unintentional sin.  This could involve a personal or communal sin.
  • The asham, “reparation or guilt offering” (Leviticus 5:14-26), typically by someone who had stolen property.  In addition to making restitution, a 20% penalty was included.  That would make it up to the victim, and the sacrifice was intended to atone separately to God.

Let’s consider, in turn, why offerings at all, why animal sacrifices in particular, and why do we have to read about this?  Though today we don’t donate burnt offerings (not deliberately, anyway), we still make donations of time, money, and items to religious organizations, for many of the same reasons as for ancient offerings: to support the building and its staff, in thanksgiving for something good that has happened, in celebration, to say you’re sorry (e.g., the proverbial flowers and candy), and so on.

Why animal sacrifices in particular?  Several positions are summarized by Nehama Leibowitz in New Studies in Leviticus, pp. 1-22 (1996).  For example, Maimonides (1138-1204) saw worship as progressing from idolatry through animal sacrifices to prayer. Suddenly would have been too big a shock for the Israelites, and they would revert to idolatry. Nachmanides (1194-1270) attacked this view (“His statements are preposterous,” cited by Leibowitz, op cit., p. 7), pointing out that in the Torah, sacrifices predate idolatry (e.g., Cain and Abel), so idolatry is irrelevant.  Instead, Nachmanides finds intrinsic value in the details of the sacrifices as symbolism, in which a person offers an animal in place of himself.  

And why are we subjected to all these details? The Lord indeed does call (Vayikra, whence the name of the portion and book) upon Moses in Lev. 1:1-2 to tell all this to all the Children of Israel, even details of rituals which only the priests need to know?  Tornberg (op cit.) provides one answer: “(I)f only the priests knew what happened during the rituals, not only would the general population be behind a screen of smoke, but they also would be in total darkness. The Torah ensures that Judaism is not a secret religion run by priests who know more “truth” than anyone else. It is, instead, open and accessible.”  It’s all there, for anyone who cares to learn it.

Shabbat shalom,


Teenage Daughter Owner’s Manual (excerpts) (Geoffrey Kidd)

Congratulations! You are now the proud new owner of a teenaged daughter. Please read this manual carefully.

IF YOU FEEL YOU HAVE RECEIVED YOUR TEENAGER IN ERROR: To determine whether you were supposed to receive a teenaged girl, please examine your new daughter carefully.  Does she:

(a) look very similar to your original daughter, only with more makeup and less clothing?
(b) refuse to acknowledge your existence on the planet Earth (except when requesting money)?
(c) Sleep in a burrow of dirty laundry?

If any of these are true, you have received the correct item.

BREAK-IN PERIOD  When you first receive your teenaged daughter, you will initially experience a high level of discomfort. Gradually, this discomfort will subside, and you will merely feel traumatized. This is the “Break-In Period,” during which you are becoming accustomed to certain behaviors that will cause you concern, anxiety, and stress. Once you have adapted to these behaviors, your teenager will start acting even worse.

ACTIVATION  To activate your teenaged daughter, simply place her in the vicinity of a telephone or Instant Messenger. No further programming is required.

SHUTDOWN  Several hours after activation, you may desire to shut down your teenaged daughter. There is no way to do this.

CLOTHING YOUR TEENAGED DAUGHTER Retailers make millions of dollars selling stylish and frankly sensible clothing which will look adorable on your daughter. Unfortunately, your teenaged daughter wants to dress like a lap dancer.

OTHER MAINTENANCE Teenaged daughters require one of two levels of maintenance: “High,” and “Ultra High.”  Your daughter is “Ultra High.” This means that whatever you do won’t be enough and whatever you try won’t work.

WARRANTY This product is not without defect because she has your genes, for heaven’s sake. Your warranty does not give you your little girl back under any circumstances, except that deep down she’s actually still there–you just have to look for her.

Moon Jokes
Q: Why did the cow jump over the moon? A: Because the farmer had cold hands! 

Q: How do you know when the moon is going broke? A: When it’s down to its last quarter.
Q: “Why does the Moon orbit the Earth?” A: “To get to the other side?”
Q: What did the moon say to his therapist? A: I’m just going through a phase. 
Q: What do you get when you take green cheese and divide its circumference by its diameter? A: Moon pi.
Q: How does one astronaut on the moon tell another astronaut that he is sorry? A: He Apollo-gises. 

Moon Landing:  After the Americans went to the Moon, the Soviets announced that they would be sending a man to the Sun. The engineers objected. “If you send a man to the Sun, he will burn up!” “What do you think I am, stupid?” he replied. “We’ll send him at night!” 

(A convenient form, not just for moms. IGP)

tph guilt form


tph sacrificial giving


Quotes about Offerings

Take care that all your offerings be free, and of your own, that has cost you something; so that ye may not offer of that which is another man’s, or that which ye are entrusted withal, and not your own.  George Fox

Many will view the compromises that will be made during your negotiations as painful concessions. But why not view them as peace offerings, ones that will provide in return the priceless gifts of hope, security and freedom for our children and our children’s?  Abdallah II of Jordan

It only stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.  Ayn Rand

I was meant to date the captain of the football team, I was going to be on a romantic excursion every Saturday night, I was destined to be collecting corsages from every boy in town before prom, accepting such floral offerings like competing sacrifices to a Delphic goddess.  Elizabeth Wurtzel

Love for the joy of loving, and not for the offerings of someone else’s heart. Marlene Dietrich

We must do worldly jobs, but if we do them with sanctified minds, they become offerings to God.  Aiden Wilson Tozer


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Vayak’hel-Pekudei (Ex. 35:1 – 40:38), Shabbat Parah (Numbers 19:1-22)

Inching toward spring, hurrying toward Leviticus, though most would prefer the reverse.

This week, as the snow melts in Wilmington, we finish reading the book of Exodus with a double portion, Vayak’hel-Pekudei, 214 verses that are largely a rerun of Parshiot Terumah and Tetsaveh, which we read 2 and 3 weeks ago.  We also have an additional 22-verse reading about the red heifer (parah adumah), since this is Shabbat Parah, the third of the special Sabbaths before Pesach.  The red heifer in the additional Torah reading is used in ritual purification from physical contamination, while the haftarah (Ezekiel 36:16-38) uses that imagery in the context of spiritual purification and cleanliness.

The weekly reading starts with yet another reminder to observe the Sabbath.  This is followed by the instructions for building the Tabernacle.  From this juxtaposition, the rabbis inferred 39 types of melakhah (“labor”, sort of), transformative or creative activities, related to building the Tabernacle (later, the Temple), that are forbidden on the Sabbath.  These, broadly involve the production of bread, clothing, parchment (and writing on it), and shelter.  The amount of physical effort is not part of the definition of melakhah.

Next come the building and furnishing of the Tabernacle and the preparation of the priests’ vestments.  Everyone freely donates materials, labor, and skill.  In fact, there are more donations than can be used (the dream of all fund raisers).  Moses keeps a very careful account of all the gold, silver, and copper given.  Bezalel is the chief artisan.  Assisted by Oholiab, he directs the skilled (“wise-hearted”) people in the required wood- and metal-working, tanning hides, spinning, weaving, dyeing, embroidering, sewing, and compounding the incense and oil. 

The priestly vestments are made.  The instructions are given for the priests’ ordination by Moses. The Tabernacle is assembled by Moses on the first day of Nisan, almost a year after the Exodus from Egypt.  A cloud covers it by day, a fire by night, their movement indicating when it is time to decamp and move onward.

We are taught that repetition does not occur in the Torah without a reason.  In this case, while the instructions in Vayak’hel-Pekudei repeat a lot of Terumah and Tetsaveh, the tone and context are quite different.  The earlier instructions are given only to Moses, in his intimate sojourn with the Lord, before the people have sinned with the golden calf.  The actions of the people involve the entire community as donors, laborers, and skilled artisans.  Their excessively generous donations and care in following directions are fueled by relief that they hadn’t been destroyed.  Like children forgiven by parents, they want to demonstrate that, yes, they can “be good.”  The details confirm that everything was done as prescribed, as does the explicit recital ca. 19 times in Pekudei (38:21 – 40:38) that each of these steps is done “as the Lord commanded Moses.”  

With the completion of the magnificent Tabernacle and vestments, Moses and the Israelites appear ready to move onward to the Promised Land.  But are they really?

Shabbat shalom,


Ginger and Redhead Jokes

Q: What do you get when you cross a Jamaican and a ginger? 
A: A gingerbreadmon 


Cleanliness #jokes #humor
Two roaches were munching on garbage in an alley. “I was in that new restaurant across the street,” said one. “It’s so clean! The kitchen is spotless, the floors are gleaming white. It’s so sanitary the whole place shines.” “Please,” said the other roach, frowning. “Not while I’m eating!


tph witch's house

No Joke: These Guys Really Do Work Out of a Cardboard Box

When the employees at Nothing, an Amsterdam ad agency, say they work out of a cardboard box, most people are probably think they’re making a joke about their cheap-o bosses. They’re not, and the bosses aren’t being cheap at all. Rather, they commissioned Alrik Koudenburg and Joost van Bleiswijk to create all of their office furniture using only cardboard. The results are pretty impressive, but they’ll only grow more interesting over time, since visitors are encouraged to mark up the surfaces with anything they please, making the entire office a palimpsest. It’s worth noting that cardboard furniture has a long history: Frank Gehry’s cardboard line is a modern classic that’s been in production for thirty years; Design Within Reach used to carry an excellent cardboard desk that I owned for a while. It’s a great material: Light, strong, green, and warm-looking.


tph garfield 030618


77 Hilarious Jokes for Accountants (selections)

Warning: Do not share this article with any non-accountants because they will roll their eyes and make fun of you…

  • There are just two rules for creating a successful accountancy business: 1. Don’t tell them everything you know. 2. [Redacted]
  • Why do accountants make good lovers? They’re great with figures.
  • Be audit you can be.
  • It’s accrual world.
  • What’s the difference between an accountant and a lawyer? The accountant knows he’s boring.
  • Why do some accountants decide to become actuaries? They find bookkeeping too exciting.
  • What’s the most wicked thing a group of young accountants can do? Go into town and gang-audit someone.
  • Did you hear about the shy and retiring accountant? The accountant is $1 million shy and hence is retiring.


The tailor – 3 

Isaac was out shopping in Golders Green when he sees a sign in a window saying, ‘JACOB’S CUSTOM MADE CLOTHING’. He’s not sure whether to go in – it looks an expensive shop. But Jacob, the owner, sees him hesitating and quickly invites him in. 
“What are you looking for?” 
“A suit.” 
“Good,” said Jacob, “you’ve come to the right place. When we make a suit here, you’ll be surprised at how we go about it. First, digital cameras take pictures of your every muscle and we download the pictures to a special computer to build up your image. Then we cultivate sheep in Australia to get the very best cloth. For the silk lining, we contact Japan for their silkworms, and we ask Japanese deep-sea divers to get the pearl buttons. 
“B-b-bbut,” said Isaac, “I need the suit for a Bar mitzvah.” 
“…You’ll have it.”


tph eggshell paint


Generosity Quotes

Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present. Albert Camus

Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion. Mahatma Gandhi

In a time of domestic crisis, men of goodwill and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics. John F. Kennedy

True generosity is an offering; given freely and out of pure love. No strings attached. No expectations. Time and love are the most valuable possession you can share. Suze Orman


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Ki Tissa (Ex. 30:11 – 34:35)

Getting a new kitchen floor installed is more discombobulating than I’d expected.  Yes, it’s done and it’s lovely:

new kitchen floor

In fact, the kitchen looks so nice empty it’s a shame to put any furniture back.  I’ll start that today, but for now, the family, living, and dining rooms are even more cluttered than usual (some of the kitchen stuff must have reproduced) and the pantry closet door was taken off because it needed to be shaved down to fit over the new flooring (just had someone to do it this afternoon – I had to coordinate that with getting Rich’s car back from the shop), and the kitchen table legs have to be re-attached before I put it back.  So, I do not have a clear table top on which to write this and am doing so snuggling in bed while the wind howls outside (gusts expected to 50 mph) and the rain is now changing to snow.

Comments from 2012:

Ki Tissa is a portion of many moods: peaceful instruction, fear, orgiastic celebration, anger, repentance, and spiritual communion.  The beginning is the conclusion of the instructions to Moses on Mt. Sinai concerning the Tabernacle and its service: the census and 1/2-shekel head tax for maintenance we read about a few weeks ago on Shabbat Shekalim, a copper basin for washing priests’ hands and feet, the recipes for the incense and anointing oil, and the appointment of Bezalel as chief artisan, assisted by Oholiab.  And, once more, a reminder to keep the Sabbath. Then Moses comes down the mountain with the two inscribed tablets, sees the people joyfully worshipping a gold idol in the shape of a young bull.  Moses convinces the Lord to not wipe them all out (“only” about 3,000 die of a plague as punishment), but he himself smashes the tablets (that gets their attention), grinds up the idol, mixes it with water, and makes the people drink it.  Aaron tries to explain, but instead of saying simply, “Look, they were afraid you wouldn’t come back, I was trying to stall for time, and if I hadn’t made them that idol, they probably would have killed me,” he says, “I threw their gold into the fire and this calf came out.”  The people repent.  Moses is allowed to see, not the face, but the back of the Lord. Then he goes back up for another set of tablets and another opportunity to commune with the Lord. He comes back down literally glowing.   

How could the Israelites, so soon after the Exodus from Egypt and the Revelation at Mt. Sinai, have blithely broken such fundamental commandments, commissioning and worshipping the Golden Calf?  Aaron’s idiotic excuse makes no sense unless he too felt that the Lord, or some other god, was made manifest in the idol.  The poet and philosopher Yehuda HaLevi (ca. 1080-1141) tried strenuously to explain and excuse the apostasy, writing that everyone back then worshipped images, and so the people needed something tangible to focus on in order to worship, not replace, the Lord.  Similarly, Nachmanides (1195-1270) suggests that the Israelites were asking Aaron for a substitute, not for the Lord, but for Moses.  Generally, though, the Israelites’ actions are regarded as genuine idol worship.   

Yet the question remains – didn’t the splitting of the Sea and the thunder and lightning and Divine voice of Revelation have any impact?  A similar question arises from the haftarah (Kings I, 18:1-39), that really dramatic one in which Elijah bests the priests of Baal and the people fall down crying, “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!” [Those of you fortunate enough (IMO) to have heard the Delaware ChoralArts performance of Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah on 11/19/18 heard this part of the story then.] But then (after the haftarah’s events), they lapse right back into idolatry.  

Maimonides (1135-1204) understands that a single dramatic event is not likely to cause a lasting transformation in human character, but such transformation occurs only gradually in reality. (source for above citations: (Nehama Leibowitz, New Studies in Shemot, pp. 549-557).  For example, the medieval English were essentially all pagans in the year 600.  Then Christianity started to take root, gradually, without martyrs, with plenty of lapses and re-conversions, often incorporating local pagan practices (e.g., people continued to wear their little Thor’s hammer amulets).  The result: by 700, paganism had been replaced by Christianity.  It took a full century (Jennifer Paxton, Georgetown University).  Surely it was a little unrealistic to expect Israel to internalize all those Laws only after a matter of weeks? 

Shabbat shalom, 

Poor Aaron, as Moses’ substitute, was like a substitute teacher, and substitute teachers can rarely control the class like the regular teacher can.  I mean, even I usually joined in (somewhat) in tormenting substitutes, and I was “a good little girl.” 2018

My most memorable substitute teacher experience occurred when I was in third grade.  I had recently transferred into Longstreth Elementary School.  Our regular teacher had to take over some administrative duties in the office, so we had a sub.  Two tall girls were washing the blackboard (The tall girls [I don’t recall tall boys ever doing it.  We were very pigeonholed at the time.] always got to wash the blackboard.  I got to do things like water the plants.  My mother let me wash her blackboard in later years when she closed up a classroom at the end of the school year, for which I am still grateful.  But I digress.).  The substitute walked in, stepped into the bucket, and slid halfway across the room.  I looked up, startled, and said “That’s my mother!”  That bit of information rippled around the room and may be why the class didn’t give her a hard time.  I had fun calling her “Mrs. Greenwald” for the next two days.  IGP2004 


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Since Ki Tissa includes taxes and excuses, how about some tax excuses? By the way, these didn’t work, so don’t try them.

  1. We didn’t file our 1993, 1994 and 1995 Income Tax returns until December of 1996 because at the time those returns were due we were undergoing an IRS audit for our 1990, 1991 and 1992 Income Tax returns [Owens v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2001-143.].
  2. I led a double life; in my public life as barrister, community and family man I achieved the highest possible standards that I was capable of, but in my private persona I became increasingly burnt out and drawn towards deliberate ignorance and recklessness as to the risks and consequences of understating income on my tax returns [New South Wales Bar Assn. v. Hamman [1999] NSWCA 404.].
  3. We didn’t know that we were required to report the money we embezzled as income on our tax returns [Clark v. Iowa Dept. of Revenue & Finance, 2002 Iowa Sup. LEXIS 93 (8 May 2002).].
  4. I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having a tax phobia (petitioner served as a corporate vice president during the tax years at issue) [Kemmerer v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 1993-394.].


tph golden yak


You can buy Biblical-type (cf. “kosher-style”) incense online, e.g., at,

but I think it would be more fun to make your own. Here’s one source of ingredients:

“Welcome to Scents of Earth: Your trusted source for high quality resins, herbs, botanicals, and oils. We are your Oman Frankincense specialists! Every day we’re adding more Certified Organic resins, botanicals and oils for your incense making needs.

We’ve gathered all of the incense, resins and botanicals mentioned in the Bible and created this easy-to-use page.

PLEASE NOTE! When looking for STYRAX OFFICALIS, it is no longer produced. The suggested replacement is BENZOIN*. Also, STACTE is actually BALSAM OF TOLU.”

*I remember my father using tincture of benzoin as an inhalant, like Vicks® VapoRub.  It smelled cinnamon-ish.
Red Sea Onycha goes for $10.50 for a half ounce, by the way.
How to make and burn the incense is here:






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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

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!


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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.”


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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 !!!!

——————– (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.

——————– (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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Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19)


That simple question pertains to matters ranging from mundane to existential and arouses every feeling from curiosity to wonder to intense pain, depending on how connected we feel.  For example, why did Nathan Chen fall apart on Olympic ice?  He realized that it was Olympic ice and succumbed to the pressure a brilliant career can generate when you’re still only a teenager and you’ve been in the spotlight half your life.  A nightmare for him, but I just feel some mild sympathy.

Then there’s the latest American massacre, this time in a high school in Parkland, Broward County, Florida, a more familiar setting than South Korea. The post-shooting ritualistic arguments about “Why?” are too familiar for me to want to rehash. We’ve had, what, 18 mass shootings in 2018, and it’s only mid-February. It takes some determination to not feel numb.

Some students were saved by bullet-proof windows and some by quick-thinking teachers and coaches.  At least two adults who died were genuine heroes, Aaron Feis and Scott Beigel.  Why was their heroism needed?  An individual wanted to kill a lot of people, was able to obtain the means to do so, and was able to carry out his plan.  That is the basic reason.  On a different level, the answer to “Why?” is that too many Americans feel people are more expendable than guns, and those who don’t are too passive in their opposition.  Thus, whatever sanctuary we find from those who want to kill us is likely to be only partially effective and of short duration.  [Yes, this is pessimistic.  Maybe I’m channeling my father, who was prone to pessimism and whose yahrzeit was yesterday.  If so, maybe next week I’ll channel my mother the optimist, whose yahrzeit is a week from tomorrow and who always thought everything would work out.]

Speaking of sanctuary –

In Parashat Terumah this week, we read the very detailed specifications for the sanctuary (Tabernacle, mishkan) the Israelites will build in the wilderness.  Aside from practical considerations (e.g., were they really able to obtain all these very specific materials (25:1-7) needed from the Egyptians and lug it all through the chase to the sea?), why have a corporeal sanctuary at all?  We read in 25:8,

וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם׃

And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.

How can an incorporeal being “dwell” in a building?  Isn’t God everywhere? Won’t the building of a sanctuary encourage the people to think of a limited God, first limited in space and consequently limited in effectiveness? 

Some commentators, like Rashi, believe the Torah readings over the next few weeks are out of order, that the Golden Calf incident should come first, so that building the Tabernacle is a means of atoning for it.   But the amount of detail in the instructions and the tone imply so much more than atonement for one admittedly grievous sin. Doesn’t verse 25:8 make you feel warm and cozy and protected?  Even the instructions for building and furnishing have the same air of excitement that anyone building a dream home has. This Tabernacle is the sheltered place where the people and the Lord are especially intimate, and it’s on earth, our territory, not in heaven.  It both enables the people to better experience the Lord, and the Lord to get to know, and better understand, these people. 

Shabbat shalom,


tph arch enemies


Architecture Puns (selected)

Who did Noah hire to build his boat?   An arkitect of course!

I used ‘veranda’ as an expletive. It was a porch choice of words.

The Museum of Bacteria aka the E. Coli-seum.

Clown colleges are usually built in the Bozo-Arts architectural style.

How do statues get rid of sore throats?     By gargoyling.

Aspiring HVAC contractors should make sure they have their ducts in a row.

Why did the electrical system in the prison keep malfunctioning? The warden didn’t hire an electrician; he let a conduit.

Plumbers have a multi-fauceted personality.

I refuse to make my own sandwich. I rely on sub contractors.

I was arguing with a construction worker. We were getting bogged down in cementics.


tph add another deck


Sanctuary Quotes

Each of us has an inner room where we can visit to be cleansed of fear-based thoughts and feelings. This room, the holy of holies, is a sanctuary of light. Marianne Williamson

For Mantle, the Yankees’ locker room was a sanctuary, a safe haven where he was understood, accepted and, when necessary, exonerated. Jane Leavy

When you grow up poor, you dream of just having a home, and a bed that’s clean – that’s a sanctuary. Having a really great husband, a child who’s healthy and happy and brings me joy – all of that has been my dream. Viola Davis

I have this sensation of being in flight all the time, but being on stage is like creating a sanctuary in which you can completely lose yourself. The bits of your personality that you keep under wraps in ordinary life, you can let them run free. Florence Welch

My family is my sanctuary. Pierce Brosnan



Cohen is shipwrecked on a desert island for several years. When rescued, he shows his rescuers all the things he has built to make his life comfortable — a hut, a waterwheel, storehouses, tools and even art. The most impressive element is his synagogue — a finely formed building of driftwood and bamboo, with carved doors, pews, candelabra and an ark made from an old chest of drawers. Inside, he proudly displays a Torah scroll he made himself, scratching the Hebrew letters with charcoal, on parchment made from bark.

As the rescuers express admiration for his hard work, artistry and obvious devotion to his faith, he leads them past what appears to be a second, much bigger and even more beautiful synagogue. They goggle with surprise.

“Why did you build a second synagogue? Why on earth would you need two?”

“Oh, yes,” he responds. “That is the synagogue I wouldn’t attend even if you paid me.

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