Nitzavim (Deut. 29:9-30:20)

 This week’s Torah portion, Nitzavim, is a mere 40 verses long. It is short and focused, so I will try to make these comments the same, especially since I will be sending out Rosh Hashanah comments separately.  “Atem nitzavim,”  the first words, means “You are standing.” “You” is plural, and if we didn’t get that, Moses goes on to list everyone – men, women, children, etc. – to emphasize that this acceptance of the covenant is totally inclusive, by the entire community, now and in the future.  The law is also accessible.  The Torah is meant to be studied by all, not just priests.  This was a radical notion that was often pushed aside.  In medieval England, for example, translating the Bible into English and reading it to the people was considered heresy.  And the people are given a choice.  OK, it’s obedience/good/prosperity/life or disobedience/evil/misery/death, so choosing life should be a no-brainer.  But, despite Moses’ protestation that, come on, this really isn’t too difficult for you (30:11), some will find it difficult, backslide, be lured into worshiping local gods, and be subject to the horrible curses we read last week.  But even then, there is hope for forgiveness via sincere atonement.  The Lord will take you back in love…open up (literally, ‘circumcise’) your heart and the hearts of your offspring to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, in order that you may live.” (30:3, 6)

 Even though the haftarot at this time of year are not strictly chosen for their relevance to the Torah portion, this week they dovetail nicely anyway.  The haftarah, Isaiah 61:10-63:9, the seventh Haftarah of Consolation, is full of ecstasy, joy, redemption, triumph, and assurances of deliverance – a hopeful vision as we embark on a new year.

Shabbat shalom,



Final Exam Failure

Last semester I took macroeconomics and didn’t have a clue what I was doing (as cited on the final exam). There were 80 multiple choice questions. For some reason I decided to play the game of probability and choose the letter “A” for everything. In that game, the only thing probable was that I failed.

The following day, the professor asked to see me after class. “Is everything okay?” “Sure,” I said, “why? “Well, here’s your test,” he said and handed me a piece of paper that was covered with red ink. “Can you explain why you chose an ‘A’ for everything?”

Knowing that there was nothing I could do at this point, I said, “Well, I’ve always wanted to be an ‘A’ student.”


Multiple Choice

A professor gives a multiple choice test and sees a student flipping coins.  The prof. goes over and asks the student why he’s flipping coins and the student explains he didn’t study and figures that just random guessing would be better than anything he could do.

Finally, near the end of the test, the prof. sees the student furiously flipping coins and walks over and asks why. 

The student explains that he’s checking his work!


Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?


Which way would you choose? [excerpts, lightly edited]

Delia ‘s Way
(no, I don’t know who Delia is, but apparently she’s a Martha Stewart clone)

Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice-cream drips .
The Real Woman’s Way
Just suck the ice cream out of the bottom of the cone, for God’s sake. You are probably lying on the couch with your feet up eating it anyway.

Delia ‘s Way
When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking tin, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead and there won’t be any white mess on the outside of the cake.
The Real Woman’s Way
Bakeries sell cakes. They even do decorated versions.

Delia ‘s Way
If you accidentally over-salt a dish while it’s still cooking, drop in a potato slice.
The Real Woman’s Way
If you over salt a dish while you are cooking, that’s tough. Please recite with me the Real Woman’s motto: “I made it and you will eat it and I don’t care how bad it tastes.”

Delia ‘s Way
Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.
The Real Woman’s Way
Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half and drop it in 8 ounces of vodka. Drink the vodka. You might still have the headache, but you won’t give a sh*#.

Delia ‘s Way
If you have a problem opening jars, try using latex dishwashing gloves. They give a non-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.
The Real Woman’s Way
Why do I have a man?

Finally the most important tip:

Delia ‘s Way
Freeze leftover wine into ice cubes for future use in casseroles
The Real Woman’s Way
Leftover wine???? Helllloooo ????


Quotes about Community

When we become a really mature, grown-up, wise society, we will put teachers at the center of the community, where they belong. We don’t honor them enough, we don’t pay them enough.
Charles Kuralt

The most perfect political community is one in which the middle class is in control, and outnumbers both of the other classes.

By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.
Oscar Wilde

The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.
William James

Every year during their High Holy Days, the Jewish community reminds us all of our need for repentance and forgiveness.
Billy Graham

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