In this week’s portion, Moses continues to encourage and reassure the Israelites, while simultaneously reminding them that their wonderful future is not a result of their own wonderfulness. They will not be “self-made” men and women, though their own efforts do matter a whole lot. It reminds me a bit of a recent article in the New York Times, “Raising Successful Children” by Madeline Levine, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/05/opinion/sunday/raising-successful-children.html?_r=1&pagewanted= , which cites a Berkeley study’s conclusion that ” the optimal parent is one who is involved and responsive, who sets high expectations but respects her child’s autonomy. These ‘authoritative parents’ appear to hit the sweet spot of parental involvement”. Certainly Moses, in the name of the Lord, sets high expectations. After all, their future is guaranteed if they only “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) Right. It may be “only” for a Moses, and even he blows it enough to be barred from the Promised Land. As for respecting the Israelites’ autonomy, I suppose that’s the whole free will thing – tell them what good and bad can happen, allow them to choose what to do, and hope they choose well enough to not get too badly hurt.
Moses provides plenty of examples of the good (miracles like manna and water) and the disasters (like the golden calf episode –which is also a miracle in that the Israelites weren’t totally destroyed) as concrete evidence, and which the current elders (those in their 50’s) can actually remember. Near the end of the portion (11:13-21) are the verses that are the second paragraph on the Shema in our liturgy, which reiterates the “good behavior leads to a good life, misbehavior leads to disaster” theme that recurs through the rest of Deuteronomy. This section also includes commands concerning tefillin (11:18) and mezuzot (11:20), which are themselves to be tangible reminders of this teaching, for a people that unfortunately will need a lot of reminding.
A man comes to dinner at a new friend’s house. While they eat, the new friend’s small son keeps staring at the guest. Finally, the guest says, “Why are you staring at me like that, young fellow?”
The kid says, “Daddy told me you were a self-made man.”
“Well, why did you make yourself like that?”
February 2, 2010
Quotes and quips about those “self-made men”
“In Kentucky, almost every manufactory known to me, is in the hands of enterprising and self-made men, who have acquired whatever wealth they possess by patient and diligent labor.”
Henry Clay (1777-1852)
U.S. Senator from Kentucky
Speech on the floor of the Senate on February 2, 1832
Often cited as the origin of the terms “self-made man”
“Self-made men are most always apt to be a little too proud of the job.”
Pen name of American humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw (1818-1885)
Quoted by Evan Esar in 20,000 Quips & Quotes (1968)
“He is a self-made man who worships his creator.”
John Bright (1811-1889)
His attributed quote about rival politician Benjamin Disraeli
“Of course everybody likes and respects self-made men. It is a great deal better to be made in that way than not to be made at all.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894)
American physician and author
In his Autocrat at the Breakfast-Table (1858)
“He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.”
Joseph Heller (1923-1999)
In his novel Catch-22 (1961),
Describing the character Colonel Cargill
Category: BLOG – We’re Not Making This Up!
The Tefillin Sweater! (excerpted)
by Kosher Innovations Posted: 11-23-2007(Viewed 2415 times)
Here is the perfect gift for the frum guy who is too lazy to take off his sweater when putting on tefillin. The sleeve zips open for easy/quick access!
Mezuzahs in Space! (excerpt)
Two dynamic mezuzot created by Judaica designer Laura Cowan are destined for space.
American astronaut Greg Chamitoff is taking two of Laura’s creations on the next NASA expedition to the International Space Station. Dr. Chamitoff is currently assigned as ISS Flight Engineer and Science Officer on Expedition 17 and will spend six months living and working onboard the International Space Station. This will be his first flight.
“My recent work is based on a rocket shape. I was inspired by the Sixties mission to land a man on the moon. Although this was achieved even before I was born, I was fascinated by the hype and excitement generated by the race to the moon…The simplified, pure rocket shape symbolises the way I connect to Judaism – in a contemporary way.”
About the two designs:
Apollo Mezuzah (picture from
A pure rocket shaped mezuzah with an abstract “shin” inspired by the windows on spacecraft. Named after The Apollo program – NASA’s 1960’s moon landing mission.
A simple rocket shaped piece, inspired by the Space Shuttle – the spacecraft currently used by the United States government for its human spaceflight missions. This sleek piece is crafted in high quality pewter – its durable finish is perfect for outdoor use.
A master can tell you what he expects of you. A teacher, though, awakens your own expectations. Patricia Neal
Both expectations and memories are more than mere images founded on previous experience. Samuel Alexander
Don’t live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable. Wendy Wasserstein
Keep high aspirations, moderate expectations, and small needs. William Howard Stein
Doctor Bloom who was known for miraculous cures for arthritis had a waiting room full of people when a little old lady, completely bent over in half, shuffled in slowly, leaning on her cane. When her turn came, she went into the doctor’s office, and, amazingly, emerged within half an hour walking completely erect with her head held high.
A woman in the waiting room who had seen all this walked up to the little old lady and said, “It’s a miracle! You walked in bent in half and now you’re walking erect. What did that doctor do?”
She answered, “Miracle, shmiricle . . . he gave me a longer cane.”
An Irish priest is driving down to New York and gets stopped for speeding in Connecticut. The state trooper smells alcohol on the priest’s breath and then sees an empty wine bottle on the floor of the car. He says, “Sir, have you been drinking?”
“Just water,” says the priest. The trooper says, “Then why do I smell wine?”
The priest looks at the bottle and says, “Good Lord! He’s done it again!”