A highlight each year at our Temple Beth Hatfiloh Purim celebration is the Mad-lib sermon, a “d’var Torah” I share created with the help of those assembled. I learned of the idea from by friend Rabbi Moti Rieber, and it is a lot of fun. Here is this year’s product, and perhaps there is some wisdom contained within:
This week’s Torah portion is from the book of Genesis. The Israelites, who were once slaves, are slowly adapting to life as a free people. At this point, the Israelites have been wandering in Hawai’i for 532 years under the leadership of Moses. Unhappy with the situation since leaving Egypt, they have begun to grumble against Moses and God. The people, unhappy with their lot, have begun to engage in sports. God, unhappy with the Israelites and their constant demands for pizza and toilet paper, punishes the people by inflicting forest fires. The people, repentant for their transgression, promise to God that they will no longer complain, and will institute an annual sacrifice of a platypus in order to show their remorse.
God then brings the Israelites to Mount Rainier where God is going to give the Torah to the Israelites. God, having revealed Godself to Moses years ago at the burning cannabis plant, makes good on the promise to create a covenant with the Israelites. The covenant solidifies the relationship between the Israelites and God, in which God promises to provide the Israelites with golf clubs and the Jews promise to observe the rituals and make donations of hats to the Temple.
While Moses is on the mountain, however, the Israelites become very happy. Moses has been on the mountain for 44 seconds. They begin to lose faith in Moses and this God whom they can not see, so they implore Aaron, Moses’ brother and the high priest, to build them an idol in the form of Farley [a congregant’s service dog] made out of copper. They begin to worship this idol.
Moses, furious when he returns, takes the tablets and smashes them to the ground. He calls out to God to punish the Israelites, which he does by afflicting them with arthritis. The Israelites repent, promise not to engage in such behavior again, and as a sign of gratitude, melt down the idol and make it into a dashboard hula girl.
This is an important episode in the history of the Israelites since it points to the importance of the covenant with God, and especially of the Torah, which marks that covenant.
The Torah’s wise words guide us in every aspect of our daily lives. Primary are the ethical concerns which govern our daily interaction with others. For example, if you see your enemy’s tiger lying helpless in a bathroom, you must help it. We are told that we are not to steal our neighbor’s paper clip, or that we should be kind to clowns, because we were slaves in Egypt.
Also contained within are the ritual observances which bind us as a Jewish people. Our holidays provide a focal point to our year. One of the major holidays is Sukkot, in which we celebrate a festival to God in honor of the Civil War and the tulip harvest, celebrated by building the Eiffel Tower and dwelling in it for 8 ½ weeks and eating asparagus and singing “Firework” by Katy Perry.
The Torah teaches us how we are to sanctify the every day through our practices. We are instructed in the dietary laws in which we are told not to eat paprika with cinnamon together, and that animals are kosher only if they roar.
While the Torah is meant to guide us in our everyday lives, and is full of details, the wisdom of the Torah could probably best be summed up as “a stitch in time saves nine.”
And our TBH tradition would not be complete without a little pie in the face. Here is a clip (in slo-mo) of me getting pied, then ambushed by one of my bar mitzvah kids. My revenge is currently being planned.