This week we study Parashat Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8).
* Deut. 26:11. Another commandment to be happy. How does one interrupt shiva (mourning) for the Sabbath or a Jewish holiday?
* Deut. 26:15. When the Torah describes Israel as a "land flowing with milk and honey", does it mean it literally? If this is just a metaphor, why could not the seven days of creation be just a metaphor? Or Adam and Eve be myths? Or the whole Torah be a metaphor? When the Torah describes the sun standing still so the Israelites can win a great victory (while Moshe has his arms held up), did the sun literally stand still?
* Western civilization is in decay and it starts at the top with the Moral Leader. He might think he's a tzaddik because he has only been with an average of a woman a year for the past 16 years, but when the Moral Leader engages in such nonsense, the gangbanger down the street impregnates a woman a year. It's just like the Vilna Gaon studied Torah 18 hours a day so German rabbis would study for at least four hours a day and Jews in England would still keep the Sabbath. We're defining deviancy down and Western Civilization is collapsing.
The Middle Class can get away with a lot of vices, wrote Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations in 1776, that would destroy the lower classes.
* I sometimes fear I'll get swallowed up by my shul and lose my independence. I find myself walking, talking and thinking like everyone at my shul. Nothing wrong with that, but will I lose myself?
* Torah narrows the realm for sex. You can't have it in the family or at temple or with animals.
* One of the curses is that you will pay the bride price but another man will enjoy her. It's like spending a lot of money on dinners and entertainments for a young woman only to have another man who's paid out nothing enjoy her.
* If there's no punishment, people won't take you seriously. People respond to incentives. This week's Torah portion lays out incentives. In this world. Unlike the Koran and the New Testament which lays out punishment in the next world.
* Jews have long believed that when they suffer, it is their own fault. This is noble and a way to find meaning in suffering. Much of life is suffering. If you can't find meaning in suffering, there's no meaning in life.