There are only 40 verses in this week’s Torah portion, Nitzavim. Moses, nearing the end of his exhortations and his life, is concise and precise. The text begins, Atem nitzavim hayom kulchem,”You are standing today, all of you” before the Lord, to renew the covenant. Not just Moses. Not just the priests. Not just the elders. And not just here and now. All the men, women, children, proselytes, throughout time, wherever Israelites will go, are accepting this covenant. Thus, future generations who refuse to uphold it will be punished with desolation and dispersion. But even then, the Lord will not only let them repent but will enable them to do so: “Then the Lord your God will 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.”(30:6) And not just live, but prosper.
Throughout the ages, Jews have been unusual in insisting that everyone study the Law. In medieval Europe, reading and teaching the Bible was almost entirely a matter for clerics. And as late as the 1500’s, translating the Bible into the vernacular was heresy and punished accordingly. William Tyndale was executed as a heretic in 1536 as punishment for his translation of the Bible into English; ironically, Henry VIII authorized an English Bible, largely Tyndale’s translation just two years later, and Tyndale’s work was also the basis for the King James version in 1611. But in Deuteronomy, Moses not only does not limit reading and learning and teaching the Law to a special class, but insists on it for everyone and even tries to encourage the people that it’s not too difficult, not beyond them to do so (of course, he’s Moses) in 1536. While the Law is holy in origin, it is meant to be used all the time, in everyday life. Thus, widespread education is not only desirable, but necessary.
It boils down to this for the Israelites, collectively and individually (30:19-20):
19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life — if you and your offspring would live — 20 by loving the Lord your God, heeding His commands, and holding fast to Him. For thereby you shall have life and shall long endure upon the soil that the Lord swore to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them.
Prosperity or disaster. It’s their choice.
The haftarah, Isaiah 61:10 – 63:9, is the last of the seven Haftarot of Consolation. Its theme: Joy and redemption.
10 I greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My whole being exults in my God.
For He has clothed me with garments of triumph,
Wrapped me in a robe of victory,
Like a bridegroom adorned with a turban,
Like a bride bedecked with her finery.
With that, it’s time for Rosh Hashanah.
Quotes on Education
Education makes a greater difference between man and man, than nature has made between man and brute. The virtues and powers to which men may be trained, by early education and constant discipline, are truly sublime and astonishing. Newton and Locke are examples of the deep sagacity which may be acquired by long habits of thinking and study. ~John Adams,
[The educated differ from the uneducated] as much as the living from the dead. ~ Attributed to Aristotle; reported in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Diogenes also credits Aristotle with saying: “Teachers who educated children deserved more honour than parents who merely gave them birth; for bare life is furnished by the one, the other ensures a good life”
There’s a reason education … will never ever ever be fixed. … because the owners of this country don’t want that…. the real owners. The big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. … You have owners. They own you. They own everything. …They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying. Lobbying to get what they want. … I’ll tell you what they don’t want. … They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. … That’s against their interests. ~George Carlin, Life Is Worth Losing (2005)
Choosing Your Residency/Specialty
Choosing a Career Is Like Choosing a Wife (lightly edited)
From ten girlfriends.
Even If you pick the most beautiful,
There’s still the pain of losing nine.
Fun Things to Do During a Boring Lecture (selected) [from 2011]
- Bring a small chalkboard to class. Ask the professor if you can borrow his chalk to take notes.
- If it’s a math lecture, claim that the professor misspelled pi.
- Get up to go to the bathroom five or six times during the class. Change clothes every time.
- While taking notes, write vulgar words every few lines. If anyone asks, say you have Tourette’s syndrome.
- Buy a watermelon. Give it to the professor. If he/she asks, say “They were out of apples.”
- Bring a fishing rod. Try to catch things on the professor’s desk.
- Bring a tape player and a tape of a thunderstorm. Keep it hidden. Sometime during the lecture, start the tape, stand up, claim that the professor has angered the gods and leave. Watch to see how many students follow you after the tape starts playing.
- Claim that you are the new student teacher, and that you are to give the lecture for that class. If the professor agrees, lecture on a subject completely opposite the subject of the class. If the professor objects, say that the students should have a wide range of knowledge.
- Switch the professor’s lecture notes with your history notes from last term.
- Sneeze very loudly. Then, have the person next to you sneeze, then the person next to him, and so on. See how long it takes before the professor sneezes.
- Write your assignment on Plato on your little sister’s modeling clay.
- When the professor comes in, suddenly scream, “NOOOOOO! Not him! Not professor Johnson! They let him teach again! Noooooooooo!” then run out of them room. See how many people follow you.
Student Proverbs [from 2010]
A FIRST GRADE TEACHER collected old, well known proverbs. She gave each child in her class the first half of a proverb, and had them come up with the rest.
As you shall make your bed so shall you……….mess it up.
Better be safe than………………….punch a 5th grader.
Strike while the …………………………bug is close.
It’s always darkest before…………daylight savings time.
You can lead a horse to water but…………………..how?
Don’t bite the hand that……………………looks dirty.
A miss is as good as a……………………………..Mr.
You can’t teach an old dog new…………………….math.
If you lie down with the dogs, you’ll….stink in the morning.
The pen is mightier than the………………………pigs.
An idle mind is…………………..the best way to relax.
Where there’s smoke, there’s………………….pollution.
Happy the bride who……………….gets all the presents.
A penny saved is……………………………..not much.
Two’s company, three’s…………………..the musketeers.
Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and……………………..you have to blow your nose.
Children should be seen and not………spanked or grounded.
When the blind leadeth the blind………get out of the way.