In this week’s portion, Moses is trying to connect with the new generation of Israelites. His stories of the incomparable miracles of the Exodus and Mt. Sinai grab their attention. “(H)as anything as grand as this ever happened, or has its like ever been known? Has any people heard the voice of a god speaking out of a fire, as you have, and survived? Or has any god ventured to go and take for himself one nation from the midst of another.” (4:32-34) Now he can appeal in turn to intellect and emotion as he tries to ready them for their new lives in the Promised Land. He is trying to teach them how and why they should obey the Law. How: scrupulously, not adding to or subtracting from it. Why: If they obey, it will go well with them, and if they don’t, it won’t. We usually think of that as a basic carrot/stick, reward/punishment approach, and verses 4:26-28, when Moses calls heaven and earth to witness that the people will be utterly wiped out if they act wickedly and carve idols, certainly support that. But Abarbanel (15th century commentator) instead sees this as preventive medicine. That is, the doctor tells the patient, if you do thus-and-so, you will avoid illness; if you don’t, you’ll get sick and have to be subjected to medical treatment (not a happy prospect in Abarbanel’s time). Just the facts.
Moses presents his own punishment (twice) as an object lesson and tells the people: I can’t go over, but you will, and if you search, if you follow the Law, you will find the Lord. He then starts his recap of the Law with the Ten Commandments, a bit different from the version in Exodus 20, for example, including references appropriate for settlers in Canaan (e.g., the stranger in your settlements should also observe the Sabbath, and you shouldn’t covet your neighbor’s field).
What comes next is probably the most well-known text in our liturgy, the first paragraph of the Shema (6:4-9), which begins with “Shema Yisrael” (“Listen up. Israel!” “Pay attention!” “Yo!”) and continues with commands to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” and to teach the Law to the children down through the generations. My friend Stanley wrote me, “For the Bible, ‘love’ is action, not an emotion…’love’ means fidelity. loyalty, faithful obedience… ‘heart’ is the seat of the intellect while it is the ‘intestines’ which are the seat of the emotions. For Maimonides, this love arises from intellectual conviction, but one’s soul “is ever enraptured by it” (N. Leibowitz, Studies in Devarim, pp. 66-67). A powerful melding of rationality and passion.
This Shabbat, the first following Tisha B’Av, is known as Shabbat Nachamu (Comfort), after the beginning of the haftarah, Isaiah 40:1-26: “Nachamu, nachamu ami”, a command to the prophets to comfort the people. There were three Haftarot of Rebuke, but there are seven Haftarot of Consolation. You can hurt someone quickly, but healing takes time (cf. seven days of shivah See also http://www.jtsa.edu/Conservative_Judaism/JTS_Torah_Commentary/Va-ethannan_5770.xml , which I cited last year)
Paying Attention — Carlee Newton
When a nosy fourth-grade student wanted the scoop on what another teacher and I were discussing in private, I decided it was time for an impromptu lesson in manners.
“Do you know what ‘minding your own business’ means?” I asked pointedly.
He didn’t, but a student clear across the room shouted, “I do!”
Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder!
Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder …
I have recently been diagnosed with Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder (AAADD). This is how it goes …
I decide to wash the car, start toward the garage and notice the mail on the table.
OK, I’m going to wash the car…
BUT FIRST I’m going to go through the mail. Lay car keys down on desk. After discarding the junk mail, I notice the trash can is full. OK, I’ll just put the bills on my desk….
BUT FIRST I’ll take the trash out, but since I’m going to be near the mailbox, I’ll address a few bills…. Yes, Now where is the checkbook? Oops… there’s only one check left. Where did I put the extra checks? Oh, there’s my empty plastic cup from last night on my desk. I’m going to look for those checks…
BUT FIRST I need to put the cup back in the kitchen. I head for the kitchen, look out the window, notice the flowers need a drink of water, I put the cup on the counter and there’s my extra pair of glasses on the kitchen counter. What are they doing here? I’ll just put them away…
BUT FIRST I need to water those plants. I head for the door and… Aaaagh! Someone left the TV remote in the wrong spot. Okay, I’ll put the remote away and water the plants…
BUT FIRST I need to find those checks.
END OF DAY: car not washed, bills still unpaid, cup still in the sink, checkbook still has only one check left, lost my car keys; and, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I’m baffled because… I KNOW I WAS BUSY ALL DAY! I realize this condition is serious…
I’d get help…
I think I’ll check my e-mail!
Attention, This Is Your Captain Speaking.
Occasionally, airline attendants make an effort to make the “in-flight safety lecture” a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported: [selected]
· “There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane…”
· “Smoking in the lavatories is prohibited. Any person caught smoking in the lavatories will be asked to leave the plane immediately.”
· Pilot: ”Folks, we have reached our cruising altitude now, so I am going to switch the seat belt sign off. Feel free to move about as you wish, but please stay inside the plane till we land… it’s a bit cold outside, and if you walk on the wings it affects the flight pattern.”
· And, after landing: ”Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.”
· As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Washington National, a lone voice comes over the loudspeaker: “Whoa, big fella, WHOA!”
· “Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the bag over your own mouth and nose before assisting children or adults acting like children.”
· “As you exit the plane, please make sure to sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses.”
· “Last one off the plane must clean it.”
· From a Southwest Airlines employee…. “Welcome aboard Southwest Flight XXX to YYY. To operate your seatbelt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seatbelt, and if you don’t know how to operate one, you probably shouldn’t be out in public unsupervised. In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with two small children, decide now which one you love more.
· “Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but they’ll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines.”
Quotations about Teachers
I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework. ~Lily Tomlin as “Edith Ann”
If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job. ~Donald D. Quinn
A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary. ~Thomas Carruthers
Good teachers are costly, but bad teachers cost more. ~Bob Talbert
Feeling somewhat punchy after taking a week-long Patent Bar prep course in 2002, I decided to re-write the Ten Commandments in patent claim language. Below are the first 9 (which cover only the actual 1 and 2) out of 33.
The Ten Commandments in the Style of Patent Claims
1. A process by which you shall accept that I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage.
2. A process by which you shall have no other gods besides Me.
3. The process of commandment 2, wherein you shall not make for yourself a sculptured image, or any likeness of an extant object or being.
4. The process of commandment 3, wherein said likeness is of an object that is in the heavens above.
5. The process of commandment 3, wherein said likeness is of an object that is on the earth below.
6. The process of commandment 3, wherein said likeness is of an object that is in the waters under the earth.
7. The process of commandment 3, wherein you shall not bow down to said sculptured images or likenesses or serve them.
8. The process of commandment 7, comprising the additional step wherein I the Lord your God, an impassioned God, visit the guilt of the parents upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generations of those who reject Me.
9. The process of commandment 8, comprising the additional step of showing kindness to the thousandth generation of those who love Me and keep My commandments.
An attorney who saw the whole set wrote back with some technical editing (e.g., “Slave – unpatentable subject matter”). To which I responded, “Thank you for the suggestions. I will convey them to the Inventor.” IGP