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Ki Tetzei(Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

Ki Tetzei 5762

GOOD MORNING!  Recently I purchased an Eveready pen flashlight. I was fascinated by the warning on the package: "If swallowed, promptly see doctor; have doctor phone (202) 625-3333 collect." When I read this, immediately a number of questions popped into my head:

  1. How many people swallow pen flashlights?

  2. How many of the people who swallow pen flashlights have saved the packaging with the phone number and have access to it at the time they swallow the flashlight?

  3. Who is at the other end of that telephone number and what do they advise if you swallow a pen flashlight?

It turns out that the phone number leads to the National Poison Center and National Battery Center (you might want to copy it down and put in on your fridge - [202] 625-3333). The lady I spoke with informed me that to the best of her recollection she didn't know of anyone who had swallowed a pen flashlight, but if they did it would need to be removed - though there is little to worry about leakage from the batteries.

I began to wonder why a reputable, respected company would put such a seemingly ridiculous warning on their packaging. Then I received via email an article about the Stella Awards. And if you ask, "What are the Stella Awards?", I remind you of Stella Liebeck who collected $2.9 million dollars from McDonalds for spilling hot coffee on herself. The Stella Awards are given for the most frivolous lawsuits in the United States.

Here is a run down of contenders for the Stella Award:

  1. Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware who collected $12,000 from a night club for knocking out two front teeth while falling from a bathroom window to avoid a $3.50 cover charge for entering the club. The jury also awarded her dental care to fix her teeth.

  2. Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania who was awarded $113,000 from a Philadelphia restaurant when she slipped on a floor wet from a soft drink and broke her tailbone. How did the floor get wet? She threw the soft drink at her boyfriend (ex-boyfriend?) in a fit of anger 30 seconds before slipping...

  3. Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas received $14,500 and medical expenses from his jury for injuries on his glutimus maximus (the buttocks) where he was bit by his neighbor's beagle. The beagle was chained in the neighbor's fenced-in yard. The jury kept the monetary award to a minimum since Jerry was provoking the dog immediately preceding the bite by repeatedly shooting the dog with a pellet gun.

  4. Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania received $500,000 for his 8 days of mental torment from being locked in a garage with only a case of Pepsi and a bag of dog food to subsist on. It seems that after robbing the home, he decided to escape through the garage, but couldn't get the garage door up or get back into the house. The family was on vacation. (I wonder if the award would have been less if it had been a case of Coke...)

  5. Kathleen Robertson of Austin Texas benefited $780,000 and medical expenses for tripping over a toddler in a furniture store. It made no difference that it was her own kid.

  6. Carl Truman of Los Angeles was compensated $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbor ran over Carl's hand with his Honda Accord. Carl didn't know his neighbor was in the car when he started to steal the hubcaps.

  7. The winner, however, was Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma City who bought a new Winnebago Motor Home. While driving home on the freeway he engaged the Cruise Control and then left the driver's seat to go back in to the motor home to make a cup of coffee... He received $1,750,000 plus a new motor home ... and an addendum in the Winnebago owner's manual advising owners not to leave the wheel after engaging Cruise Control.

It could be that the people at Eveready Battery Company had heard about the Stella Awards when they designed their packaging...

What does all of this mean to us? It is easy to laugh at the foibles, irresponsibility and greed of others, but remember that when you point a finger at someone three fingers point back to you. There is something deep in our psyche that looks to place blame with others when really we should be looking at our own behavior and our own personal responsibility.

With Rosh Hashana coming soon (the night of September 6th), rather than blaming others, we should look at our own lives and our own behavior for what we can correct.


Torah Portion of the Week
Ki Tetzei

Topics in this week's portion include: Women Captives, First-Born's Share, The Rebellious Son, Hanging and Burial, Returning Lost Articles, The Fallen Animal, Transvestitism, The Bird's Nest, Guard-Rails, Mixed Agriculture, Forbidden Combinations, Bound Tassels, Defamed Wife, Penalty for Adultery, Betrothed Maiden, Rape, Unmarried Girl, Mutilated Genitals, Mamzer, Ammonites & Moabites, Edomites & Egyptians, The Army Camp, Sheltering Slaves, Prostitution, Deducted Interest, Keeping Vows, Worker in a Vineyard, Field Worker, Divorce and Remarriage, New Bridegroom, Kidnapping, Leprosy, Security for Loans, Paying Wages on Time, Testimony of Close Relatives, Widows and Orphans, Forgotten Sheaves, Leftover Fruit, Flogging, The Childless Brother-in-Law, Weights and Measures, Remembering What Amalek Did to Us.

 

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

If after a war, one wants to marry a captive, there is a process that the Torah sets out. Regarding one part of the process the Torah states, "And she shall cry for her father and mother a month of days" (Deuteronomy 21:13). Why does the Torah require a month of crying?

The Ramban (Nachmanides) cites the Rambam (Maimonides) that this month of crying is to have compassion for the woman the soldier wants to marry. By crying she will find inner peace. When one is very sad, one's nerves become calmed after crying. The Ramban himself explains that this month is the amount of time necessary for her to internalize a change from her belief in idolatry.

Rabbi Chaim Zitchyk comments that we see from here that to really change a trait it takes a thirty day period of intensive work. This is the principle of the month of Elul (the month we are now in which precedes Rosh Hashana) which is a time for us to focus on our behavior and traits in order to make major improvements on ourselves.

At times a person tries to work on a trait for a day or two and when he doesn't see improvement he becomes discouraged and gives up. When you want to improve any trait, give yourself thirty days of serious effort in order to see visible changes. While some people are able to make changes very quickly, even they need a significant amount of time in order to ensure that the new habits become second nature. Even if you do not see any positive changes the first week or two, if you will persevere for an entire thirty days you will begin to see the fruits of your labor.


PIRKEI AVOT 2:1

"What is the correct path that a person should choose for himself? That which is honorable to himself and earns him esteem from his fellow man - Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi



CANDLE LIGHTING - August 16:
(or go to http://aish.com/candlelighting)

Jerusalem  6:46
Guatemala 5:44  Hong Kong 6:36  Honolulu 6:54
J'Burg 5:29  London 8:09  Los Angeles 7:21
Melbourne 5:27  Miami 7:38  Moscow 7:45
New York 7:35  Singapore  6:56



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

If you blame things on others,
it's because there is only
one other choice.



With Deep Appreciation to
Leah and Sholom Mark
for their friendship and support

Published: August 10, 2002

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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) Anonymous, August 12, 2002 12:00 AM

Thank you so much for teaching me how to get rid off a bad habbit!

B"H

Thank you so much to teach me that one needs a month to change a trait, it is going to change the perspective i had of myself. it makes me so enthousiastic. I am really trying very hard to improve myself during this month of teshuvah and reading such a dvar Torah cheers me up.
le sefer Chaim tirtevu ve techatmu

Shalom from FRANCE

(1) Anonymous, August 11, 2002 12:00 AM

Changing Myself Trying to Stop Swearing.

I never look at your sight so it freaked me when I realised that this is the month coming up to Rosha Shana, and the month of making amendments. I so want to stop swearing alas I dont even realise half the time I do it and before I know it the words just come out of my mouth. I am trying to become more and more aware of myself doing it so that I become concious of it so that perhaps this will help me to stop swearing! So I am glad that I looked at this page today because it will hopefully help me to make extra effort this month in particular. If you have any "how to stop swearing" words of advice then please let me know!

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