Comments are from 2015 and 2011:
(2015) Happy Tu B’Av! If you recall Tu Bishvat and Tisha B’Av, you should be able to figure out that Tu B’Av means “15th day of the month of Av,” which is today, July 31, 2015 (July 27, 2018). This mysterious little holiday has enjoyed a rebirth in recent years. In the Talmud, we read that, on Tu B’Av, the unmarried girls of Jerusalem would wear white dresses and dance in the vineyards while eligible men scope out potential mates. It’s kind of a nice way to rebound from Tisha B’Av.
(2011) In this week’s portion, Moses is trying to connect with the new generation of Israelites. His stories of the incomparable miracles of the Exodus and Mt. Sinai grab their attention. “(H)as anything as grand as this ever happened, or has its like ever been known? Has any people heard the voice of a god speaking out of a fire, as you have, and survived? Or has any god ventured to go and take for himself one nation from the midst of another.” (4:32-34)
Now he can appeal in turn to intellect and emotion as he tries to ready them for their new lives in the Promised Land. He is trying to teach them how and why they should obey the Law. How: scrupulously, not adding to or subtracting from it. Why: If they obey, it will go well with them, and if they don’t, it won’t. We usually think of that as a basic carrot/stick, reward/punishment approach, and verses 4:26-28, when Moses calls heaven and earth to witness that the people will be utterly wiped out if they act wickedly and carve idols, certainly support that. But Abarbanel (15th century commentator) instead sees this as preventive medicine. That is, the doctor tells the patient, if you do thus-and-so, you will avoid illness; if you don’t, you’ll get sick and have to be subjected to medical treatment (not a happy prospect in Abarbanel’s time). Just the facts.
Moses presents his own punishment (twice) as an object lesson and tells the people: I can’t go over, but you will, and if you search, if you follow the Law, you will find the Lord. He then starts his recap of the Law with the Ten Commandments, a bit different from the version in Exodus 20, for example, including references appropriate for settlers in Canaan (e.g., the stranger in your settlements should also observe the Sabbath, and you shouldn’t covet your neighbor’s field).
What comes next is probably the most well-known text in our liturgy, the first paragraph of the Shema (6:4-9), which begins with “Shema Yisrael” (“Listen up. Israel!” “Pay attention!” “Yo!”) and continues with commands to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” and to teach the Law to the children down through the generations. My friend Stanley wrote me, “For the Bible, ‘love’ is action, not an emotion…’love’ means fidelity. loyalty, faithful obedience… ‘heart’ is the seat of the intellect while it is the ‘intestines’ which are the seat of the emotions. For Maimonides, this love arises from intellectual conviction, but one’s soul “is ever enraptured by it” (N. Leibowitz, Studies in Devarim, pp. 66-67). A powerful melding of rationality and passion.
This Shabbat, the first following Tisha B’Av, is known as Shabbat Nachamu (Comfort), after the beginning of the haftarah, Isaiah 40:1-26: “Nachamu, nachamu ami”, a command to the prophets to comfort the people. There were three Haftarot of Rebuke, but there are seven Haftarot of Consolation. You can hurt someone quickly, but healing takes time (cf. seven days of shivah See also The Day After Destruction by Rabbi Mychal B. Springer, which I cited last year)
In case you were wondering why several verses of the haftarah look especially familiar, it’s because they are used in Handel’s Messiah: Isaiah 40:1-4, 5, 9, and 11. IGP
The Future of Love According to Kids (excerpts)
Ashley May and Sean Rossman, USA TODAY 4:54 p.m. EDT July 18, 2018
The kids of Gen Z are growing up in a world far different than their Millennial predecessors. So, how does this affect their thoughts on love? We took our cameras into schools across the nation to find out. (The videos of the kids at the website are worth viewing. IGP)
It feels like you’re in a room of hearts trying to find the perfect one. Amber, 10
I think love is more than just a feeling you have towards one person. I think love is an understanding you have about yourself. Francisco, 18
A boy likes me. And then we were in line for lunch and then he’s like, “Hey guess who I’m going to dance with?” And then he said my name. Farah, 8.
If he says that he needs to go to the restroom and he doesn’t come back, that means that it didn’t go well. Amber, 10
I just got to know them as a person and then developed feelings for them… I didn’t have to do a lot of, like, scary asking out things. Mark, 15
Marriage would be like a super love. Like, forever. Benicio, 8
It’s like a legal, like, connection with two people who most likely love each other. Westin, 13
Family Life – Kids, What kind of parent
I never really liked kids. So I probably wouldn’t have children, but my mom says my mind will change. Carlos, 12
I don’t want to talk about it. Charlie, 6.
To be a parent my child can trust. Francisco, 18
Q: Could you please pay a little attention?
A: But I’m paying as little attention as I can.
Teacher: I see you missed a day of school.
Student: Yes, but I didn’t miss it much.
Q: What is a forum?
A: Two-um plus two-um.
Quotes on Comfort
The best things in life are often waiting for you at the exit ramp of your comfort zone. Karen Salmansohn
Cats are connoisseurs of comfort. James Herriot
You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. Alan Alda
This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure. Winston Churchill
Baking cookies is comforting, and cookies are the sweetest little bit of comfort food. They are very bite-sized and personal. Sandra Lee