Ekev (Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25)


[Remember, the jokes follow the commentary]

Moses continues to instruct the Israelites in this week’s portion, trying to reassure them and help them develop a self-confidence that does not cross over into smugness.  They will be able to dislodge the current inhabitants over time, both they and the land will be fertile, they will lack nothing, and what is expected of them?  “Only this: to revere the Lord your God, to walk only in His paths, to love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, keeping the Lord’s commandments and laws, which I enjoin upon you today, for your good.” (10:12, 13)  I like the “only”.  For Moses, this is not a difficult expectation to fulfill, but for the Israelites?  Realizing this, Moses gives them additional incentive to obey: if they forget the Lord and start to worship other gods, they will perish.  Just as the current Canaanites are to be displaced “because of the wickedness of those nations” (not because of the virtues of the Israelites) (9:4-6), so too can the Israelites be pushed aside if warranted. This is reiterated near the end of the portion (11:13-21) in the verses that are now the second paragraph of the Shema in our liturgy.  In fact, the Israelites are lucky they have survived so far, given how often they provoked the Lord, notably when they (i.e., the previous generation) made and worshiped a golden calf, as Moses reminds them in great detail.  

And if the Israelites were so quick to forget the immediate, obvious miracles through which the Lord kept them alive in the wilderness, like the manna and water (whether from a rock or Miriam’s well), how much more readily will their descendants in the Promised Land forget to recognize those miracles that will occur regularly (like rains in the right season) but are nonetheless miraculous?  Obeying the Law and loving and serving the Lord wholeheartedly, and teaching all of it to the children can keep one from becoming smug and complacent, from believing “My own power and the might of my own hand have won this wealth for me. (8:17)”   And mezuzot and tefillin, commanded in 11:18-20, will provide the Israelites with concrete reminders of the One to whom they owe so much.

Shabbat shalom,

New Barbie Dolls from MATTEL [selected]

Sister Mary Barbie: This spiritual Barbie comes with jointed knees and neck for genuflecting and praying, mini rosary beads, a mini Bible and a black sequined nun’s habit (after all, she’s still Barbie). Pull the string on her back and she says nothing because she has taken a vow of silence.

Rabbi Barbie: So, why not? Women rabbis are on the cutting edge in Judaism. Rabbi Barbie comes with tiny satin yarmulke, prayer shawl, teffilin, silver kaddish cup, and Torah scrolls. Optional: tiny mezuzah for doorway of Barbie Townhouse.


Photo found at http://gothamist.com/2011/03/14/tefillin_totin_jews_terrorize_anoth.php and  http://jwa.org/teach/golearn/jan08/

Twelve-Step Barbie: Pull the string on her back and she says, ‘Hi, I’m Barbie and I’m an alcoholic.’ Comes with a ‘One Day at a Time’ bumper sticker, a 30-day chip, and a pack of smokes.

Birkenstock Barbie: Finally, a Barbie doll with horizontal feet and comfortable sandals. Made from 100% post-consumer recycled materials.

Dinner Roll Barbie: A Barbie with love handles, double chin, a curvy belly, and voluminous thighs to show girls that voluptuousness is also beautiful. Comes with a miniature basket of dinner rolls, bucket o’ fried chicken, tiny Entenmann’s walnut ring, a brick of Breyer’s ice cream, three bags of potato chips, a t-shirt reading ‘Only the Weak Don’t Eat’, and, of course, an appetite.


[Sigh.  Here we go again. IGP]

Tefillin Totin’ Jews Terrorize Another Airplane [abridged]

Should flight attendants have to be fluent in religious rituals? We wonder because for the second time in a little more than a year a flight has been disturbed when Orthodox Jews praying with tefillin were confused with terrorists getting ready to terrorize. Last January a flight out of LaGuardia was diverted to Philly over the prayer ritual and then yesterday [March 13, 2011] a similar confusion struck an Alaska Airlines flight from Mexico City to LA. After concerns were raised the airplane was swarmed by police, FBI and customs agents when it landed at LAX.

What exactly the three men, described as Mexican nationals, were doing didn’t become clear to officials until after the plane had landed. In LA the three men were escorted off the plane because a stewardess had informed the cockpit they “were acting rowdy and a fight had broken out.” In fact they were just praying with tefillin.

According to an Alaska Airlines spokesman a “flight attendant became spooked when she saw the men wrapping the straps to their foreheads and arms and praying loudly in Hebrew, and she instructed the crew to lock down the cockpit.”

After officers had inspected the boxes and straps and discerned that they were, in fact, not bombs, the men were allowed to go.



Hebrew National enters the Mezuzah market.

Kosher hot dogs: looking for a new Mezuzah? Why not buy one in the shape of a mustard covered hot dog, courtesy of the folks at Hebrew National? It costs $25 and doesn’t include parchment, but according to the official website is “unique”. Check out Hebrew National to see for yourself.



“I do not object to Gladstone’s always having the ace of trumps up his sleeve, but only to his pretense that God had put it there.”

~ Henry Labouchere

From: jmbay@leland.Stanford.EDU (Joseph Michael Bay)  [A rerun from 2007. Also 2001. OK, so it’s a favorite of mine. IGP]

The Self-Made Man

(M)y father was a self-made man in the truest sense of the word.  He enucleated an egg cell from a donor, micro-injected a nucleus from one of his own pluripotent stem cells, and implanted it in a pseudopregnant female goat.  After gestation, he delivered himself and educated himself.  Of course his fortune was largely willed to him by himself, but he had made that before, so it was okay.  And to this day, he prides himself on his integrity, his compassion, and his ability to eat tin cans.  



Birthday Miracles

All of his life Len from Cape Breton had heard stories of an amazing family tradition. It seems that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather had all been able to walk on water on their 21st birthday. On that day, they’d walk across the lake to the boat club for their first legal drink.

So when Len’s 21st birthday came around, he and his pal Corky took a boat out to the middle of the lake. Len stepped out of the boat and nearly drowned!

Corky just managed to pull him to safety. Furious and confused, Len went to see his grandmother. “Grandma, it’s my 21st birthday, so why can’t I walk across the lake, like my father, his father, and his father before him?”

Granny looked Len straight in the eyes, and said, “Because, you idiot, your father, grandfather and great-grandfather were born in January, you were born in July.”

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