Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Parshat Korach, 5777/2017 thoughts, a bit belated

Links to "basics" and previous posts here and here.

One of my most important job responsibilities is to edit the long documents that the organization for which I work is required to produce every couple of years or so.  These documents being strictly non-fiction, I have no choice but to take a "Just the facts, Ma'am" approach and make sure that similar documents are reasonably consistent.  And that affects how I read the Torah/Bible--inconsistencies drive me nuts!

So let's start here, with Numbers 16:1:

א  וַיִּקַּח קֹרַח, בֶּן-יִצְהָר בֶּן-קְהָת בֶּן-לֵוִי; וְדָתָן וַאֲבִירָם בְּנֵי אֱלִיאָב, וְאוֹן בֶּן-פֶּלֶת--בְּנֵי רְאוּבֵן. 1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men;

You're forewarned:  On, the son of Pelet, disappears completely from the story after this one mention.  I'm calling Documentary Hypothesis on this, and on the whole Korach story, for that matter:  My personal opinion is that this disappearance is a clear indication that the story was spliced together from more than one (probably oral) tradition.

טז  וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה, אֶל-קֹרַח, אַתָּה וְכָל-עֲדָתְךָ, הֱיוּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה:  אַתָּה וָהֵם וְאַהֲרֹן, מָחָר. 16 And Moses said unto Korah: 'Be thou and all thy congregation before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to-morrow;
יז  וּקְחוּ אִישׁ מַחְתָּתוֹ, וּנְתַתֶּם עֲלֵיהֶם קְטֹרֶת, וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אִישׁ מַחְתָּתוֹ, חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתַיִם מַחְתֹּת; וְאַתָּה וְאַהֲרֹן, אִישׁ מַחְתָּתוֹ. 17 and take ye every man his fire-pan, and put incense upon them, and bring ye before the LORD every man his fire-pan, two hundred and fifty fire-pans; thou also, and Aaron, each his fire-pan.'
יח  וַיִּקְחוּ אִישׁ מַחְתָּתוֹ, וַיִּתְּנוּ עֲלֵיהֶם אֵשׁ, וַיָּשִׂימוּ עֲלֵיהֶם, קְטֹרֶת; וַיַּעַמְדוּ, פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד--וּמֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן. 18 And they took every man his fire-pan, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood at the door of the tent of meeting with Moses and Aaron.
יט  וַיַּקְהֵל עֲלֵיהֶם קֹרַח אֶת-כָּל-הָעֵדָה, אֶל-פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד; וַיֵּרָא כְבוֹד-יְהוָה, אֶל-כָּל-הָעֵדָה.  {ס} 19 And Korah assembled all the congregation against them unto the door of the tent of meeting; and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation. {S}

So far, so good, but . . .

כג  וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. 23 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:
כד  דַּבֵּר אֶל-הָעֵדָה, לֵאמֹר:  הֵעָלוּ, מִסָּבִיב, לְמִשְׁכַּן-קֹרַח, דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם. 24 'Speak unto the congregation, saying: Get you up from about the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.'
כה  וַיָּקָם מֹשֶׁה, וַיֵּלֶךְ אֶל-דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם; וַיֵּלְכוּ אַחֲרָיו, זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. 25 And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.
כו  וַיְדַבֵּר אֶל-הָעֵדָה לֵאמֹר, סוּרוּ נָא מֵעַל אָהֳלֵי הָאֲנָשִׁים הָרְשָׁעִים הָאֵלֶּה, וְאַל-תִּגְּעוּ, בְּכָל-אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם:  פֶּן-תִּסָּפוּ, בְּכָל-חַטֹּאתָם. 26 And he spoke unto the congregation, saying: 'Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be swept away in all their sins.'
כז  וַיֵּעָלוּ, מֵעַל מִשְׁכַּן-קֹרַח דָּתָן וַאֲבִירָם--מִסָּבִיב; וְדָתָן וַאֲבִירָם יָצְאוּ נִצָּבִים, פֶּתַח אָהֳלֵיהֶם, וּנְשֵׁיהֶם וּבְנֵיהֶם, וְטַפָּם. 27 So they got them up from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side; and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood at the door of their tents, with their wives, and their sons, and their little ones.

Moses couldn't have gone to the tent of Korach and to the tents of Datan and Aviram at the same time, because they were in different encampments--Korach was encamped with the tribe of Levi, while Datan and Aviram were encamped with their own tribe, Reuven.  I think that Korach's name was edited in.

כח  וַיֹּאמֶר, מֹשֶׁה, בְּזֹאת תֵּדְעוּן, כִּי-יְהוָה שְׁלָחַנִי לַעֲשׂוֹת אֵת כָּל-הַמַּעֲשִׂים הָאֵלֶּה:  כִּי-לֹא, מִלִּבִּי. 28 And Moses said: 'Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works, and that I have not done them of mine own mind.
כט  אִם-כְּמוֹת כָּל-הָאָדָם, יְמֻתוּן אֵלֶּה, וּפְקֻדַּת כָּל-הָאָדָם, יִפָּקֵד עֲלֵיהֶם--לֹא יְהוָה, שְׁלָחָנִי. 29 If these men die the common death of all men, and be visited after the visitation of all men, then the LORD hath not sent Me.
ל  וְאִם-בְּרִיאָה יִבְרָא יְהוָה, וּפָצְתָה הָאֲדָמָה אֶת-פִּיהָ וּבָלְעָה אֹתָם וְאֶת-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם, וְיָרְדוּ חַיִּים, שְׁאֹלָה--וִידַעְתֶּם, כִּי נִאֲצוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה אֶת-יְהוָה. 30 But if the LORD make a new thing, and the ground open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down alive into the pit, then ye shall understand that these men have despised the LORD.'
לא  וַיְהִי, כְּכַלֹּתוֹ, לְדַבֵּר, אֵת כָּל-הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה; וַתִּבָּקַע הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר תַּחְתֵּיהֶם. 31 And it came to pass, as he made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground did cleave asunder that was under them.
לב  וַתִּפְתַּח הָאָרֶץ אֶת-פִּיהָ, וַתִּבְלַע אֹתָם וְאֶת-בָּתֵּיהֶם, וְאֵת כָּל-הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר לְקֹרַח, וְאֵת כָּל-הָרְכוּשׁ. 32 And the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
לג  וַיֵּרְדוּ הֵם וְכָל-אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם, חַיִּים--שְׁאֹלָה; וַתְּכַס עֲלֵיהֶם הָאָרֶץ, וַיֹּאבְדוּ מִתּוֹךְ הַקָּהָל. 33 So they, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit; and the earth closed upon them, and they perished from among the assembly.
לד  וְכָל-יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲשֶׁר סְבִיבֹתֵיהֶם--נָסוּ לְקֹלָם:  כִּי אָמְרוּ, פֶּן-תִּבְלָעֵנוּ הָאָרֶץ. 34 And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them; for they said: 'Lest the earth swallow us up.'

But Korach wasn't there--he was at the Tent of Meeting, as ordered by Moses!  And why are the deaths of Datan and Aviram not even mentioned?

לה  וְאֵשׁ יָצְאָה, מֵאֵת יְהוָה; וַתֹּאכַל, אֵת הַחֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתַיִם אִישׁ, מַקְרִיבֵי, הַקְּטֹרֶת.  {ס} 35 And fire came forth from the LORD, and devoured the two hundred and fifty men that offered the incense. {S}

The headcount is incorrect--that should have been two hundred fifty-one men who offered incense, including Korach.  Even so, I'm convinced that Korach wasn't swallowed up by the earth, he was French-fried with all the other rebellious members of the tribe of Levi at the Tent of Meeting, because that's where he was--he was not at his own tent.  That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.

Our ancestors, bless them, did the best they could to preserve received traditions, but they were dreadful editors.

See also DovBear's old Korach post, which is one of the best Korach posts that I've ever read.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Trumpcare's deadly cost

Lifetime caps can kill.  Are we truly complacent about returning to Darwinian "survival of the fittest?"  Because that's what we're talking about.  With Trumpcare as currently conceived, it doesn't matter whether they're young, old, or in between--if they can't afford to pay their own health-care bills, let 'em die.  :)

Monday, June 12, 2017

40 years, but not in the wilderness: Happy Anniversary to us!

Forty years of his puns, and of him having fun taking me up on my tendency to exaggerate.  ("Your're gonna gain wait from kiddush because you ate a gazillion cookies?  Wow, that's a lot of cookies!"  Never mind that I'd only eaten 4 cookies).  I keep telling him that I only keep him around for the entertainment.  :)

We hope to celebrate many more wedding anniversaries.

(For a sample of my husband's humor, see the musical punster.)

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

What, exactly, are "totafot?"

Here's the text of the "Sh'ma" biblical quotation, which is included in our siddurim/prayer-books, in which "totafot" appear--see the second to last line of "Part One."

" . . . frontlets between your eyes," my eye!

Here are some possible explanations/translations.  This article seems to support a long-standing theory of mine, which is that "totafot" is a "loan word," a word borrowed from another language.  I also find it interesting that, to the best of my knowledge, "totafot" doesn't appear anywhere else in Tanach/Bible, and, consequently, we Jews have never seen this word in the singular.

I can't keep blogging about politics and current events.  The political scene is practically making me ill, and I can barely turn off all "screens" for Shabbat/Sabbath or a Yom Tov/holiday without learning, when I turn everything back on, that there's been yet another terrorist attack. :( :( :(
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