Since I will be on vacation when I would ordinarily send this out, I am rerunning the comments from 2007. Different humor, though.
The most familiar section of this week’s portion is Ch. 11:13-21, the second part of the Shema, which neatly encapsulates the messages of reward for obedience, punishment for waywardness, and also describes three means to remind yourself on a daily basis what you’re supposed to do: tefillin (v. 18), teaching the laws to your children (v. 19), and the mezuzah (v. 20). This sound like very modern pedagogical theory, involving many approaches to accommodate different learning styles: tactile, aural, and visual in addition to abstraction.
Other themes this week to consider:
1. This is a really great, fertile land (8:8), “a land of wheat and barley, of (grape) vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey;” heck, you can even mine iron and copper. If you (the Israelites) follow the Lord’s commandments, you will prosper. If you don’t, you won’t. (Nothing new there.) And when you prosper, remember that you haven’t done it alone; you are not “self-made” (wo)men but owe a whole lot to the Lord.
2. The Lord chose Israel because of the Lord’s love for their ancestors (10:15). The Israelites, on the other hand, have shown many times that they can be a real pain in the neck. Moses was able to intercede for them many times, most notably after the Golden Calf incident, but he won’t be there to help them much longer.
3. The Lord is giving the land of Canaan to the Israelites so they can remove the current wicked inhabitants, not because the Israelites themselves are righteous.
4. And actually, when it comes down to it, the key requirements are love, kindness, and sensitivity, and wholehearted devotion to the Lord: (Ch. 10)
12 And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God demand of you? Only this: 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, …16 Cut away, therefore, the thickening about your hearts* and stiffen your necks no more. .. 19 You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
*A more literal translation of the phrase in 10:16 is “Circumcise your heart” which gives a more powerful image of heightening sensitivity.
As always, lots to think about.
submitted by: David Minkoff
Ben is in a hospital ward with two non-Jewish patients. On his first morning, Ben puts on his tefillin, like he does every morning. But the non-Jews can’t figure out what he is doing. Finally, one says to the other, “Look how smart those Jews are! He’s taking his own blood pressure.
CONDO SEEKS MEZUZOT BAN
By Paul Lungen, Staff Reporter –(excerpts)
January 27, 2011
TORONTO — For 2-1/2 years, Jessica Weiser has had a mezuzah affixed to the door frame of her Scollard Street condominium, but a couple of weeks ago, she was told by the building’s property manager to remove it. Weiser was surprised at the request, which she believes violates her freedom of religion. She declined to remove the religious artifact and contacted B’nai Brith Canada for advice.
She received a call from Caber Management Services asking her “to remove the object,” she said. She was told that according to the Condominium Act, residents are not permitted to make any changes to the building’s common areas.
In July 2008, a U.S. court of appeal in Chicago ruled 2-1 against the right of Jews to place mezuzot on condominium doorposts. “The hallway rule,” which prohibits signs and objects on outside doors, “is neutral with respect to religion,” the court stated. “We cannot create an accommodation requirement for religion.”
The dissenting judge, however, said applying such a rule to mezuzot would in effect amount to evicting observant Jews. “The [condominium] association might as well hand a sign outside saying, ‘No observant Jews allowed,’” she stated.
According to Toronto-area lawyer Bradley Chaplick, there have been no reported cases in Ontario over placement of mezuzot in condominiums.
Minor Mining Jokes
Q: What are the three rules of finding gold?
A: Mine, mine, mine.
Q: Why did the miner take a balloon ride in a thunderstorm?
A: He heard that every cloud has a silver lining.
Q: Why did the miner stay in California instead of moving north?
A: Because he didn’t like the sound of a place called “Ore-gone”
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.
Quotes on Consequences
It is only too easy to make suggestions and later try to escape the consequences of what we say. Jawaharlal Nehru
Every person has free choice. Free to obey or disobey the Natural Laws. Your choice determines the consequences. Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices. Alfred A. Montapert
The Holocaust illustrates the consequences of prejudice, racism and stereotyping on a society. It forces us to examine the responsibilities of citizenship and confront the powerful ramifications of indifference and inaction. Tim Holden