Vayeilekh (Deut. 31:1-30), Shabbat Shuvah

Since Yom Kippur is fast approaching (ha ha), there are some tips on fasting at that you might find helpful.  What I find helpful are weaning off caffeine starting a few days before, drinking a lot of water beforehand, not having overly greasy or spicy foods at the dinner before the fast, and not overeating at that dinner.

This week’s Torah portion is a mere 30 verses long.  Moses announces that it’s his 120th birthday, and he’s really too old to continue to lead them and, besides, he’s forbidden to accompany them into Canaan anyway (he had to get that in again).  He assures the people that God will help them conquer the Promised Land and publicly confirms Joshua as the new leader.  He gives the written Torah into the custody of the priests, Levites, and elders and commands them to have a public reading of the entire scroll on Succot every sabbatical year.  [Rashi opines that the king would just read Deuteronomy.] This reading was for all the people – men, women, children, and non-Israelite residents.

The God takes Moses aside and tells him that, once he is gone and the Israelites have settled in the Land, they will totally screw up, worship foreign gods, and provoke a wrathful God to forsake them.  But there is still hope.  Moses is commanded to write a song and teach it to the people.  The song will tell of their relationship with God, how they will straying and be punished, and their ultimate redemption.  We’ll read that song next week.

This Shabbat is Shabbat Shuvah, the Sabbath of Return, because the special haftarah begins, “Shuvah Yisrael” (Return O Israel). The word for repentance, teshuvah, has the same root, and Shabbat Shuvah occurs between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper, during the Ten Days of Penitence.  This is one of only two Sabbaths on which the rabbi used to be expected to give a substantive sermon. There are several variations of the haftarah, all of which begin with Hosea 14:2-10, in which Israel is urged to repent, to return to their God.  At my synagogue, that is followed by Joel 2:11-27 on readying the people for a joyous redemption; and Micah 7:18-20, that our sins will be cast into the sea.

I will write about Yom Kippur in a few days.  I’m still thinking what to say to you.

Shabbat shalom,


Parshas Vayeilech – On 1 Foot
ADMIN — JULY 9, 2006

Moshe: I am about to die

Jews: You are?

Moshe: yes.

The End.

Moshe Out of Office Reply: I will be out of the office, permanently. For immediate assistance on Judaism please contact Josh or God



The New CEO

A CEO who was replaced for poor performance decided to help the new CEO. “I left you with four envelopes. When you’re faced with a crisis you can’t handle, open the first envelope. Faced with additional crisis after that, open the second, third, and fourth envelopes.” When the new CEO encountered his first crisis he opened the first envelope. A note inside said, “Blame the previous CEO.” It worked like a charm. Months later after the second crisis, the note in the second envelope said, “Blame the economy.” That worked, but not quite as well. A few weeks later a third crisis occurred, and the third note said, “Blame the workers.” That didn’t work at all, so the new CEO opened the fourth envelope. It said, “Prepare four envelopes.”



A man woke up in the morning deeply repentant after a bitter fight with his wife the previous night. He noticed with dismay the crate of beer bottles that had caused the fight. He took it outside and started smashing the empty bottles one by one onto the wall. He smashed the first bottle swearing, “you are the reason I fight with my wife”. He smashed the second bottle, “you are the reason I don’t love my children”. He smashed the third bottle, “you are the reason I don’t have a decent job”. When he took the fourth bottle, he realized that the bottle was still sealed and was full. He hesitated for only a moment and said, “you stand aside, I know you were not involved”.


Jokes about Sermons

Words of wisdom: “There’s a fine line between a long, drawn-out sermon and a hostage situation.”

* * * * *
How to Keep a Child Still in Worship

The pastor recalls, “After a recent worship service the mother of a fidgety seven-year-old boy told me how she finally got her son to sit still and be quiet. About halfway through the sermon, she leaned over and whispered, ‘If you don’t be quiet, the preacher is going to lose his place and will have to start his sermon all over again!’ It worked!”

* * * * *

Ole and Lena were sitting side by side on the pew listening to the pastor go on and on with his sermon. Lena looked over and noticed that Ole’s eyes were closed. She elbowed him in the ribs.

“Wake up, Ole! What are you doing going to sleep during the sermon?”

“I was not asleep; I was considering the great hereafter,” whispered Ole.

“He’s not talking about heaven,” said Lena.

“I know he’s not.” said Ole. “I was thinking about the coffee and donuts we’ll have here after.”


The phrase “May you live until 120”[1] (Hebrew: עד מאה ועשרים שנה‎: Ad me’ah ve-essrim shanaYiddish: ביז הונדערט און צוואַנציק; Biz hundert un tsvantsig), often written as “till 120”, is a Jewish blessing

The saying is a fixture of Jewish humor, as in the story of a man who said to his noisy neighbor “May you live until 119” and then said to the wife “May you live until 120.” When asked by the husband “why only until 119”, the man who was seeking a bit of quiet said “she deserves one good year.” Another joke said is: “What do you say to someone on their 120th birthday? Have a nice day”.

There is only one verified case of a human being reaching the age of 120, that of the Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who was born in 1875 and died in 1997, aged 122.


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