Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25)

In this week’s portion, Eikev, Moses assures the Israelites that they can have a wonderful future, partly from the innate fertility and richness therein and partly by their own efforts.  They will eat and be satisfied.  But this is contingent upon their not forgetting that it is the Lord that has enabled their success.  No “self-made” men or women.  No claims of “I built that!” without acknowledging anyone’s help.  Basically, all they need to do is only 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).  (That shouldn’t be too difficult, right?)  Even more succinctly in 11:1, “Love, therefore, the Lord your God, and always keep His charge, His laws, His rules, and His commandments.”

Moses relates more of the story of their journey, how he had spent 40 days and nights on Horeb (Sinai) only to bring the two stone tablets back to a people who were worshiping a golden idol.  They were punished.  But Moses miraculously prevented the Lord from destroying them.  And there were ongoing miracles, like manna and water and clothes and shoes that didn’t wear out.  The 70 who went down to Egypt are now as numerous as the stars of heaven.

Chapter 11 includes the second paragraph of the Shema (11:13-21) which again emphasizes that there will be consequences to the choices the Israelites will make in the years and generations to come.  Good behavior will overall lead to a good life.  Bad behavior will lead to disaster.  The Israelites will also have tangible reminders of proper behavior, tefillin (11:18) and mezuzot (11:20).  Rather than a simple carrot/stick proposition, the Israelites will need to learn that the behavior itself will inherently lead to the consequences.

Shabbat shalom,



Brand Idea Failures: Corfam Monday, November 27, 2006

The leather substitute [condensed]

In the mid-1960s, chemical giant DuPont invested millions in the promotion of Corfam, a synthetic substitute for leather. When the product made its first public appearance at the Chicago Shoe Show in the autumn of 1963, it was greeted enthusiastically.

All DuPont had to do now was to find out where exactly Corfam’s place in the footwear market would be.   The female shoe market (47% of total in US) was itself divided – between comfy, everyday shoes and ‘fashion’ shoes made for special occasions.  For all Corfam’s strengths, it was not as flexible or ‘skin-like’ as ordinary leather, and therefore was not suited for comfort or everyday use. And regarding fashion shoes, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) was fast becoming popular owing to its extreme low cost.

Furthermore, the leather industry was lowering its prices and improving quality. This factor, combined with the growing popularity of vinyl shoes, led to DuPont’s announcement in March 1971 that they were to withdraw Corfam.

Although Corfam was long-lasting, it lacked the flexibility and ‘breathability’ of leather. It also proved too expensive.  When a product is unable to be the best in terms of either quality or value it faces an uphill struggle to convince consumers of its merits.

[If I recall correctly, one of my early bosses at work still had a pair about 20 years old.  He said they wore like iron. IGP]

The Self-Made Man

From: jmbay@leland.Stanford.EDU (Joseph Michael Bay) [This is a rerun, but it’s one of my favorites. IGP] 

(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.


Florida attorney general orders Lauderdale condo association to change rule [excerpts]

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel By Joe Kollin, Published April 5, 2007

Just in time for Passover, Laurie Richter won the right to keep her mezuzah on the doorpost of her rented Fort Lauderdale condominium.

But that’s not good enough for Attorney General Bill McCollum. He gave the association at The Port Condominium, in the 1800 block of Southeast 17th Street, until 5 p.m. today to change its rules so all its Jewish residents can hang mezuzahs.

“A resolution [by the board] that allows only Ms. Richter to display her mezuzah does not satisfy the public interest,” Bethel said.

The association’s rule prohibits anyone from attaching, hanging, affixing or displaying anything on the exterior walls, doors, balconies and windows, which are considered common property controlled by the association.

Richter, 28, a lawyer, rented the two-bedroom apartment on Dec. 1 and, using double-sided tape to prevent damage to the paint, put the mezuzah on the doorpost. She said she didn’t consider it a violation of the rules because she saw Christmas wreaths on other doors.

Shortly afterward, the condo association ordered her to remove the mezuzah.  Incensed, she contacted newspapers and television stations. Eventually, her case received national coverage.  The board on March 26 told her she could keep the mezuzah but did not give a reason. The rule applied only in her case.  Richter said the board’s response was too limited.

Meanwhile, Miami-based U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta on Wednesday said he is keeping an eye on the case.  “There is a principle at stake here that goes beyond any individual,” he said. “We have assigned an attorney in the Fort Lauderdale office to take a careful look at the facts and determine if a federal lawsuit would be appropriate.”

(See also Lauderdale condo bans religious symbol on doorposts — The Port Condominium )


Tefillin Barbie and Me  Posted on July 16, 2012

The other day I was in my rabbi’s office for what she and I like to call my 10,000-mile tune-up. And there she was on a bookshelf in a plexi-glass frame—a super hero ready to wrap and unwrap at a moment’s notice to redeem the world—my old friend Tefillin Barbie.

tph tefillin barbie

Tefillin Barbie is modest and learned and devout. She wears a long denim skirt. Her sleeves are below her elbow. She wears a head covering and is draped in a tallit—a prayer shawl. And, of course, the most notable thing about her is that she wears tefillin. Prominently, proudly and naturally.

I’ve always loved Barbie. She came into my life when I was six-years-old and bedridden for three months. My aunt sent me a Barbie along with the doll’s extensive miniature wardrobe. I kept her outfits in a black patent leather wardrobe created just for her clothes. I spent hours dressing Barbie in ball gowns, tennis skirts and my favorite—a bridal gown.  Through it all it never fazed me that Barbie was blonde and tall and I was not. She measured an impossible 36-18-38, but I attributed that to the fact that she was a doll.

I’m not surprised that Tefillin Barbie’s inventor is a soferet—a woman scribe who is trained and certified to write holy texts by hand. According to the Jewish Women’s Archive Jen Taylor Friedman is one of six soferot (plural of soferet) in the world. She has a workshop in her native Southampton, England handwriting an entire Torah for a congregation in St. Louis. (more)

And at http://www.jokeindex.com/joke.asp?Joke=42

New Barbie Dolls from MATTEL (PG)

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


Consequence quotes

You can’t sow an apple seed and expect to get an avocado tree. The consequences of your life are sown in what you do and how you behave.
Tom Shadyac

Everyone has to make their own decisions. I still believe in that. You just have to be able to accept the consequences without complaining.
Grace Jones

I am not a politician… I only suffer the consequences.
Peter Tosh

How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.
Marcus Aurelius

Bothered by curly tefillin straps?  This one’s for you!

Apparatus for holding tefillin (Jewish Phylactery) straps
US 20120030908 A1


An accessory designed to hold straps tefillin straps and straighten them out (preventing coiling), which comprises a attaching device and a holding slit, whereby the attaching device is attached to the worshipper’s clothing and the said strap is inserted through the holding slit.

tph tefillin clip 1 US20120030908A1-20120209

[I thought this was just a clothing clip and didn’t see how this could be novel, so I looked into it.  Sure enough, the examiner rejected it because of US Patent 1,509,461 from 1924, which concerns (col 1, l. 10-17) “an improvement in pinch-supports for garments, particularly adapted to suspend a pair of drawers to the waist-band of the pantaloons, but which may also be used for supporting other woven or knitted garments either for ladies or gentlemen, the pinch holding the stuff tightly without risk of damaging it.” IGP]


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