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

Normally, the Shabbat service before the start of a new month includes a special blessing.  The exception: Tishrei, the month whose first day is Rosh Hashanah.  That’s because, what with a shofar blowing every weekday (I finally made a real sound on one! Yes!!!), the addition of Psalm 27, the white ark coverings (at least in my shul’s chapel), and, outside of services, the exhortations to pay dues and make donations, the special choir rehearsals, the supermarket ads hailing holiday-related sales, and the signs of synagogue clergy anxiety (Showtime!) – with all that, you’d have to be pretty dense not to realize Rosh Hashanah is coming.  Indeed, it starts Sunday evening, October 2, and I will be sending out an appropriate missive beforehand.

This Shabbat, we read a short Torah portion, Nitzavim, only 40 verses long.  Moses, realizing he and the Israelites are coming to the end of their respective journeys, sets aside the legal stuff and concisely summarizes how and why Israel should enter the covenant with the Lord, now and always.  His first words, “Atem nitzavim hayom kulchem,” mean, “You are standing today, all of you” before the Lord, to renew the covenant. This applies to everyone.    Really, everyone.  Tribal chiefs, elders, officials, men, women, children, proselytes, all strata of society, current and future generations.  Consequently, everyone, especially children, must study the Law in order to understand and obey it.  Moses assures the people that the Law is readily accessible and not too difficult (then again, he wrote it). 

Study of the Bible and, later, commentaries became a hallmark of the Jewish people.  For example, a couple of centuries before the destruction of the Second Temple, synagogues outside Judea held services that included reading from the Torah, a selection from the Prophets, and study.  In contrast, the medieval Church in Europe maintained strict control over access to Biblical texts by, e.g., condemning translations into the vernacular as heresy.

As Moses has been emphasizing all along, following the Law with lead to good things, disobeying – especially regarding idolatry – will lead to disaster and dispersion.  But atonement remains possible.  What is emphasized now is that the Israelites must choose their path – not can, but must.  Moses concludes (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.”

The haftarah is Isaiah 61:10 – 63:9, the seventh and final Haftarah of Consolation.  It is a joyous prophecy of exaltation and redemption, bookended with images of espousal and wedding (61:10, 63:4-5)

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.

4But you shall be called “I delight in her,” and your land, “Espoused.” For the LORD takes delight in you, and your land shall be espoused.

5As a youth espouses a maiden, your sons shall espouse you; and as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.

Shabbat shalom,


My two children each chose medicine like their father and grandfather.  All four then chose different specialties.



Want to find The One?  Choose your partner the way you choose your DOG! (excerpts)


Author and relationship coach Dr Annie Kaszina Ph.D – who is the first to admit she has her own chequered relationship history – discovered that by applying these principles she could finally make the right choices.

  1. Temperament is king. Mean, moody, and magnificent may sound exciting… Unfortunately, hard work relationships lead to emotional exhaustion and breakdown. Better to look for someone sunny and sweet-natured. 
  2. Beware yappiness. Unless you’re okay with saddling yourself with Mr In Love With The Sound of His Own Voice, be careful of over-talkers. They need to take an interest in you too.
  3. Good manners. Snarliness towards waiters, children, and anyone outside the charmed circle of you and your date is a bad sign of things to come. 
  4. Over-exuberance. First date pushiness is the sign of someone who doesn’t respect boundaries and will end up pushing you into emotional corners.
  5. Docility. You want your date to be sensitive and responsive to your wishes. Choosing for you, unasked, without consulting you is a clear sign of wanting to be top dog. 
  1. Playfulness. You want someone who’s fun to be around, who you feel comfortable enough around to be silly with.


41 Test Answers That Are 100% Wrong And 100% Right At The Same Time

(Excerpts. Images of all actual exam papers are at website)


  1. Name: Frankie
    I earn money at home by:  I don’t.  I am a freeloader.
  2. Where was the American Declaration of Independence signed? At the bottom.
  3. When should a motorist use his bright beams? When he wants to be an a*****e.
  4. To change centimeters to meters you __?___ Take out centi


10 very real teacher ailments and diseases (excerpts)

  1. Endoftermitis: This disease normally occurs at the end of term but sometimes afflicts teachers at half-term breaks too. Symptoms vary but usually include exhaustion, shattered nerves and a common cold. 

    3. IBS (Irritable Brain Syndrome):  Symptoms include a raging headache, low-tolerance (particularly for student complaints that stem from hypochondria) and an impossible-to-quench desire for coffee. Sufferers have been known to reverse their motto that “No question is a silly question.”

    6. The Sunday Sads: This condition is brought on (on Sunday evenings) by the realisation of how close Monday is and is caused by weekend-long procrastination. Symptoms include panic attacks, a sense of crushing doom and, ironically, further procrastination.

    8. Acute Classroom Paranoia: This condition occurs when a class has a seemingly out-of-the-blue fit of giggling. The teacher begins to ask himself/herself questions such as “Is there a hole in my clothing?” “Do I have a stain in an unusual place?” When the condition is at its peak, the teacher demands that one of the “goody-two-shoes” students tells them why they are laughing.

    10. Grammar Nazi Disorder: This is a life-long affliction in which sufferers have a very low tolerance for bad grammar. Sufferers experience increased heart rate, surges of anger, and a longing to reach for a red pen.


Wedding One-liners by the Famous

  • The best way to get most husbands to do something is to suggest that perhaps they’re too old to do it. (Anne Bancroft)
  • Keep your eyes wide open before the wedding, half shut afterwards. (Benjamin Franklin)
  • By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll be happy.  If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.  (Socrates)
  • My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met. (Rodney Dangerfield)
  • I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury. (George Burns)
  • I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life. (Rita Rudner)
  • The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret. (Henny Youngman) 


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