Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:8)

I am in a good mood.  It was such a lovely day today and likely will be tomorrow as well.  And before class, I had a scoop of delicious ice cream (French Vanilla flavored ice cream with bittersweet chocolate chunks and salted caramel swirls) from the UDairy Creamery’s MooMobile.  Do I really want to dig into Parashat Ki Tavo, with all of its graphic warnings and curses, let alone consider how such horrors relate to today’s mishigas?  Ha!  So, this week you’ll get a rerun for comments, but freshly-dug-up jokes.

(2012) Gee, time flies.  We’re already up to the sixth Haftarah of Consolation, Isaiah 60:1-22, which tells of a time of joy, everlasting light, and salvation. It’s time for Selichot already, this Saturday night.  Selichot, a series of penitential prayers and liturgy, ramps up the emotional intensity of the penitential season that began with the weekday sounding of the shofar this month (Elul).  See e.g.,  The next several weeks include increasing self-examination and asking for forgiveness.

The Israelites are nearing the end of their journey as we near the end of the year by the Hebrew calendar.  This week’s portion begins with commands concerning the first fruits offering the and tithing on a three-year cycle, to support the Levites, resident aliens, widows, and orphans. They are not only told exactly what to do, but exactly what to say (26:3, 5-10, 13-15) – they, not the priests nor other leaders, and the words carry the reasons for the actions.  Moses and the elders now tell the people not only to observe all the Law, but to write it all on huge, plastered stones (Biblical billboards), with an altar of unhewn stones nearby for sacrifices. 

Most of the rest of Ki Tavo consists of the Tochachah, “warning” (this is the major one – the minor one was back in Leviticus).  Half the tribes are to stand on Mount Gerizim, half on Mount Ebal, with the Levites in the valley between, facing Gerizim to pronounce blessings and Ebal for the curses (as described by Rashi).  The people answer “Amen” to each curse. The first set of curses (27:15-26) indicates specific reasons for curses (for example, making an idol, dishonoring one’s parents, indulging in a forbidden sexual relationship) but not what the actual curse will be. The blessings that follow (28:1-14) are based on one omnibus command: If they diligently obey all the laws, many specific blessings will ensue, like fertility (land, animals, and people), rain, wealth, being invulnerable to their enemies, and subservient to no nation.  That’s all familiar stuff and rather obvious, as is the idea of being punished for disobedience.  What’s horrifying is the specificity in the curses that follow (28:15-68), a devastating litany of destruction, loss, unthinkable behavior, loss of control, confusion, mental anguish, despair, and utter, utter hopelessness. 

 Moses steps back and seems to begin a familiar exhortation about the divine miracles the Israelites have seen from Egypt onward and how well the Lord has taken care of their physical needs.  Then, in 29:3, “but the Lord hath not given you a heart to know, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, until this day.” Only now are the people fully aware. And only now are they ready to conquer the Promised Land.

Shabbat shalom,


My mom doesn’t like when I curse.
But she’s totally fine with jinxes and hexes.

The United States is always being hit with tragedies and crises like a bad curse…
Just as if it was built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground.

We told the youth at our church that every time they curse they have to do 10 push-ups,
So our church is a gym now.

“May your thousand generations be childless!” yelled my best friend in anger.
He never did think his curses through…



In Week 1272 we asked for updated curses in the Yiddish tradition. (selections)

  • May President Trump insist that you’re doing a fabulous job. (Roy Ashley, Washington)
  • May you always find an error in your sudoku when you are two boxes from completion. (Steve Brevig, Springfield, Va.)
  • May you never figure out where that beeping’s coming from. (Daniel Galef, Montclair, N.J.)
  • May your family always use air quotes when describing your profession (e.g., “Our son Johnny, the ‘writer’” . . . ). (Rivka Liss-Levinson, Washington)
  • May each of your days be better than the next. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)
  • May the paths of your life run as straight and true as the outlines of Maryland’s congressional districts. (Nan Reiner, Boca Raton, Fla.)
  • May you always have spinach in your teeth — and teeth in your spinach. (Liv Johansson, Alexandria, Va.)
  • May you take a long car trip and find that every single public radio station on your route is having a pledge drive. (John Kupiec, Fairfax, Va.)
  • May your health plan provide only thoughts and prayers. (Frank Mann, Washington)


Product Warnings

  • “Do not use if you cannot see clearly to read the information in the information booklet.” — In the information booklet.
  • “Do not place this product into any electronic equipment.” — On the case of a chocolate CD in a gift basket.
  • “This product not intended for use as a dental drill.” — On an electric rotary tool.
  • “Do not use near fire, flame, or sparks.” — On an “Aim-n-Flame” fireplace lighter.
  • “Eating rocks may lead to broken teeth.” — On a novelty rock garden set called “Popcorn Rock.”
  • “Caution: Shoots rubber bands.” — On a product called “Rubber Band Shooter.”
  • “Please keep out of children.” — On a butcher knife.
  • “Do not recharge, put in backwards, or use.” — On a battery.
  • “Do not look into laser with remaining eye.” — On a laser pointer.
  • “Fragile. Do not drop.” — Posted on a Boeing 757.
  • “Do not dangle the mouse by its cable or throw the mouse at co-workers.” — From a manual for an SGI computer.
  • “Do not use house paint on face.” — In a Visa commercial that depicts an expecting couple looking for paint at a hardware store.
  • “For a limited time only.” — From a Rally’s commercial that described how their burgers were fresh.
  • “No stopping or standing.” — A sign at bus stops everywhere.
  • “Fits one head.” — On a hotel-provided shower cap box.
  • “No small children.” — On a laundromat triple washer.
  • “Optional modem required.” — On a computer software package.


Posted by Ron Denka, FB 8/1/18, and Sam R. 9/17/19


Forgiveness  Uploaded 04/01/2012

Once upon a time in their marriage, my Dad did something really stupid. My Mom chewed him out for it. He apologized, they made up.

However, from time to time, my mom mentions what he had done. “Honey,” my Dad finally said one day, “why do you keep bringing that up? I thought your policy was ‘forgive and forget.'”

“It is,” she said. “I just don’t want you to forget that I’ve forgiven and forgotten.”


Quotes about Blessings

A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together. Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood. Charlotte Kasl

It’s a blessing to have people to support you from across the world. Offset

Forgiveness isn’t just a blessing you deliver to another human being. Forgiveness is also a gift you give yourself. Robin S. Sharma

You never know where a blessing can come from. Teena Marie

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s