Throughout Deuteronomy, Moses uses a variety of approaches to connect with the Children of Israel to prepare them for their new life in the Promised Land: lecturing, cajoling, warning, singing – whatever works. He uses himself as an object lesson: the Lord became angry with me, so I can’t cross the Jordan. But you can, and as long as you keep the covenant, you’ll prosper. He also reminds them how much the Lord has done for them, extricating them from Egypt and caring for them. Moses also names three specific cities east of the Jordan as cities of refuge for those guilty of manslaughter. [If you were maybe expecting a riff on the Zimmerman verdict based on those verses, forget it.]
The two biggies in this portion are the more-or-less repetition of the Ten Commandments (5:6-18) and the beginning of the Shema (6:4-9). The Ten Commandments here are not identical to those in Exodus 20. For example, “Remember (zachor) the Sabbath day…” is now presented as “Observe (or safeguard; shamor) the Sabbath day…” The mystics explain this by saying that, at Sinai, the Lord said shamor and zachor simultaneously (b’dibur echad, in one word), which shows up in L’chah dodi, the 16th century Kabbalistic song included in the Friday night service. One of these years, I’ll go through all the differences here – maybe. In any event, according to the Maharal of Prague, this set of commandments is how Moses perceived them and presented them in a manner that he believed the people would be most able to absorb.
The first verse of the Shema (6:4) is one of the most well-known verses in the liturgy. [BONUS QUESTION: In addition to verses 6:4-9, what verse in this week’s portion is part of the Torah service?] But it’s not a prayer. It is a declaration of the unity of the Lord. It is supposed to be said on one’s deathbed. Further, it’s not clear what it really means: “The Lord, our God, is one (God)”? Or maybe, “The Lord is our God, only the Lord”? Or how about translating “Shema Yisrael” as “Listen up. Israel!” “Pay attention!” “Yo!” The opening word itself is difficult to translate. As my friend Stanley wrote several years ago, “The semantic range of the word Shma is vast (including respond – as in shma’ koleinu [hear our voice]-and obey and understand) yet translations have come to fixate on the most anemic of the lot, “hear”. He suggests a better translation for Shema would be “Hear, understand, and acknowledge” (HUA in military lingo). [The rest of this paragraph’s content essentially comes from 2011. See https://igplotzk.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/vaetchanan-deuteronomy-323-711-shabbat-nachamu-2/] Then we are told 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. Biblical scholars would typically translate “heart” as more encompassing mental processes, rationality, wisdom, etc., “soul” as the physical being, breath, etc. “For the Bible, ‘love’ is action, not an emotion…’love’ means fidelity, loyalty, faithful obedience… ‘heart’ is the seat of the intellect [better, wisdom] while it is the ‘intestines’ which are the seat of the emotions.” (thanks, Stanley). “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). So the Israelites are being commanded to approach their God with both rationality and passion.
Attentive listening is also part of comforting someone in pain, an unexpected link with the haftarah. This Shabbat is called Shabbat Nachamu, Sabbath of Comfort, after the beginning of the haftarah Isaiah 40:1-26 (part of the haftarah also appears in Handel’s Messiah). This is the first of seven Haftarot of Consolation between Tisha B’Av and Rosh Hashanah. Rebukes take effect quickly; comfort requires a lot more time to be effective.
On a lighter note, Monday is Tu B’Av (15 Av), a holiday instituted during the Second Temple period, largely forgotten, and revived in recent years. It marked the start of the grape harvest. As described in the Mishnah (Taanit 4:8), “There were no better days for the people of Israel than the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur, since on these days the daughters of Jerusalem go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards. What they were saying: Young man, consider who you choose (to be your wife).” (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/tubav.html). It is also known as Chag HaAhava, festival of love (http://www.morim-madrichim.org/en/Event/1764/p0/tu-bav?firstreq=1 ). Sounds like fun.
Top Ten Ways Woodstock was like Mt. Sinai (selected)
by Weekly Bang 8/14/09 (40 years since Woodstock) Posted: 08-14-2009(Viewed 2482 times)
10. 600,000 people experienced both in the middle of nowhere
8. Both had people claiming to hear “God”, except at one they were referring to Hendrix
7. God put on a much better psychedelic laser light show, sans the Grateful Dead
4. Bearded hippies, in robes, all camping in tents, all calling each other “brother”
3. Wood stock is what they used to build the Ark of the Covenant
2. Everyone says they know someone that was there
1. One had a lot more people dropping tablets
It seems an older gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100%.
A month later he returned to the doctor and the doctor said, “Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.”
“Oh, I haven’t told my family yet.” the gentleman said. “I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I’ve changed my will three times!”
A man was wheeling himself frantically down the hall of the hospital in
his wheelchair, just before his operation.
A nurse stopped him and asked, “What’s the matter?”
He said, “I heard the nurse say, ‘It’s a very simple operation, don’t
worry. I’m sure it will be all right.'”
“She was just trying to comfort you. What’s so frightening about that?”
“She wasn’t talking to me. She was talking to the doctor!”
Emotion. 2009 Aug;9(4):574-8. doi: 10.1037/a0015951.
Finding comfort in a joke: consolatory effects of humor through cognitive distraction. [No, I haven’t read this yet.]
Department of Social and Cultural Psychology, Behavioural Science Institute, Radbound University, Nijmegen, The Netherland. email@example.com
This study aimed to demonstrate that the cognitive demands involved in humor processing can attenuate negative emotions. A primary aspect of humor is that it poses cognitive demands needed for incongruency resolution. On the basis of findings that cognitive distraction prevents mood-congruent processing, the authors hypothesized that humorous stimuli attenuate negative emotions to a greater extent than do equally positive nonhumorous stimuli. To test this idea, the authors used a modified version of the picture-viewing paradigm of L. F. Van Dillen and S. L. Koole (2007). Participants viewed neutral, mildly negative, and strongly negative pictures, followed by either a humorous or an equally positive nonhumorous stimulus, and then rated their feelings. Participants reported less negative feelings in both mildly and strongly negative trials with humorous positive stimuli than with nonhumorous positive stimuli. Humor did not differentially affect emotions in the neutral trials. Stimuli that posed greater cognitive demands were more effective in regulating negative emotions than less demanding stimuli. These findings fully support Van Dillen and Koole’s working memory model of distraction from negative mood and suggest that humor may attenuate negative emotions as a result of cognitive distraction.
2009 APA, all rights reserved.
(So the more you have to think or pay attention to get the joke, the less bad you’ll feel. Interesting…)
Cheesy Pickup Lines (a few)
Hi, are you here to meet a nice man or will I do?
I hope you know CPR, because you take my breath away!
Do you have a map? I just keep on getting lost in your eyes.
Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?
I just wanted to show this rose how incredibly beautiful you are!!
I’m sorry, were you talking to me? Her: No. Well then, please start.
[As she’s leaving….] Hey aren’t you forgetting something? She: What? Me!
There must be something wrong with my eyes, I can’t take them off you.
Do you have the time? [Gives the time] No, the time to write down my number?
I have had a really bad day and it always makes me feel better to see a pretty girl smile. So, would you smile for me?
Submitted by zanny.
GLOSSARY OF THE SHADCHANIC (pertaining to matchmaking) LANGUAGE (selected)
*wonderful middos (character) = looks like s/he has been in a head-on with a freight train.
*attractive = does not require a bag over his/her head to be seen with in public.
*well groomed = has showered within the last week
*best boy in the yeshiva = managed to get in, barely, with assistance of his uncle, the Rosh (principal).
*from a good family = parents are on speaking terms and no immediate relatives in jail.
*very intelligent = very boring
*tall (man) = 5 7 ” to 7’1
*short (man) = 4’1 ” to 5′
*a bit shy = under psychiatric care for neurosis
*quiet = had a frontal lobotomy