Friday, February 02, 2007

Beshalach 1 - Nachum

In the absence of any thoughts on the parsha worth relating (or, more charitably, the time necessary to coherently formulate said thoughts), I have apparently decided to allow my blog to devolve into a humor blog. Shloshim yom, I suppose.

Anyway, the story goes (as related by a rebbe/coach of mine in high school), that a guy entered the beis medrash holding a Mishnayos Shabbos. He goes to the first guy whom he sees learning, and shows him the first mishnah: "Lo v'zefes, v'lo v'sha'avah, v'lo v'shemen kik, v'lo v'alyah, v'lo v'cheilev Nachum" - One may not light the Shabbos lichts using pitch, wax, cottonseed oil, sheep-tail fat, or the fat of Nachum. The guy asks, "What exactly is this Cheilev Nachum?". The second guy shakes his head, and says, "You're reading it all wrong. There's a period following the word cheilev. It should be read "V'lo v'cheilev. Period. Nachum HaMadi omeir...". The first guy angrily shakes him off, and goes to the next person he sees. Same question, same answer.

After the guy asks several people the same question, one guy finally gets smart, and realizes that the nudnik won't stop bothering everyone unless he gets an answer, so says to him, "Oh, Cheilev Nachum! There's an interesting story behind that.

"When B'nei Yisroel were ready to leave Egypt, everyone was very excited to finally leave their servitude. The one exception was a guy named Nachum. This Nachum, during the years of slavery, had developed a biofuel factory which was doing a booming business. Therefore, when all of the Jews were leaving Egypt, Nachum stayed behind to continue to run his factory. As a k'nas for his refusal to leave Egypt, Chazal made a decree that any fuel manufactured by Nachum could not be used for Shabbos lichts.

"And where is this episode alluded to in the Torah? In the first passuk of this week's parsha: 'Vay'hi b'shalach Par'o es ha-am -- V'lo Nachum' "

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At 2/05/2007 2:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a true story except that it was not a biofuel factory - it was a candle factor (Nachum HaMadi means Nachum the candlemaker). Apparently, what happened that business just took off during Makas Choishech that he didn't want to leave.

At 2/05/2007 2:54 PM, Blogger Josh M. said...

At the risk of nitpicking on a nitpick on a joke, I changed the joke from candles to biofuel (sorry, chemical engineer here) because the mishnah there is referring to liquid fuels; if one melts the cheilev into a mold and then forms it into a candle, I believe that the fuel is mutar, regardless of its proprietor.


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