[I will be away next week, so you are getting this a week early. The comments are from 2014, but the jokes are newly chosen.]
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.
Parshas Eikev – On 1 Foot
The Fundamentals of Computer Programming:
[Else if (condition X) Then
You may remember the incident in January, 2010 where an Orthodox teenager on an airplane tried to pray with tefillin, thereby causing the plane to be diverted because they thought he was a terrorist. Here are a couple of related items:
B. Tefillin On Board
Top ten Jewish-related things that may actually pose a higher security threat on board an airplane (with apologies to David Letterman):
- Waving a Lulav (eye poker)
9. Wrapping yourself in a Tallis (whip passengers with those fringes)
8. My Grandmother’s Chicken Soup (scalding hot, but it’s liquid so it’s already banned)
7. Wielding a Challah knife (obvious!)
6. Purim Grogger (Metal corners make dangerously sharp weapon)
5. Full Set of the Talmud (heavy enough to bring down an aircraft)
4. Using Jewish Sarcasm (it’s deadly!)
3. Giving a discourse on the history of the Jewish legal tradition (will put pilots to sleep)
2. Matzoh Balls (deadly as thrown object)
And the #1 Jewish thing more dangerous than wearing tefillin on a plane is…
1. Singing Shabbat song: “Bim Bom, Bim Bim Bim BOMB
(c) Rabbi Jason A. Miller
Self-Made Man Quotes
Luck is not something you can mention in the presence of self-made men. E. B. White
I don’t believe in that kind of American John Wayne individualism where people pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Someone changed your diapers. And if that’s the case, you ain’t self-made. Michael Eric Dyson
A self-made man? Yes, and one who worships his creator. William Cowper
I am a self-made brat. Steve Wynn
My parents were self-made people, and they were a team. Samuel Goldwyn, Jr.
Saturday, 12 March 2011
Opening his front door, the Rabbi found himself face to face with the local priest.
“Rabbi, may I have a few words with you?” asked the priest.
“Of course, Father,” replied the Rabbi somewhat nervously.
“Rabbi,” began the priest, “It must be evident to you that in this town we are plagued by thieves. Scarcely a day passes without one of my flock coming to me bemoaning the fact that his house has been broken into. On the other hand, I have noticed that thieves do not bother you Jews nearly as much.”
“Father, you are correct.”
“Yes, but why is that?” inquired the priest.
“Look at this little box here on the side of my door post,” said the Rabbi. “It’s called a mezuzah. We Jews believe that when we put a mezuzah on the entrances to our houses, the Holy One, may His Name be blessed, protects both us and our property.”
“In that case,” replied the priest, “I must have one!”
Not wishing to be the cause of an incipient pogrom, the Rabbi reluctantly handed over a mezuzah to the priest.
Some two weeks later the Rabbi was awakened by the sound of someone pounding violently on his door. Dressing himself hastily, he made his way down the stairs.
“Who’s there?” the Rabbi asked tremulously.
“Open the door! Open the door!” screamed a voice on the other side.
Leaving the door on the chain, the Rabbi racked the door wide enough to see the priest standing in front of him, his eyes wild with great distraught.
“What happened?” asked the terrified Rabbi. “Were you not protected from robbers?”
“I was! But these people were worse than robbers!” screamed the priest.
“Who?” asked the rabbi.
“The Fund Raisers!”