GOOD MORNING!  You may or may not have ever heard of the Darwin Awards. They are given (usually post-humously) once a year to those people who have most benefited humanity by removing their genes from the gene pool by doing something incredibly stupid (which generally-speaking costs them their lives).

You also may or may not be familiar with Psalms. They are praises and supplications written largely by King David. In times of trouble, especially when someone is sick or having an operation, people will recite Psalms. They bring a closeness to the Almighty and articulately convey the emotions that we have when we are scared, worried, excited, grateful, happy. People not only say them for the comfort of knowing that they CAN rely upon the Almighty, but because there is great merit in reciting Psalms.

What do the Darwin Awards have to do with King David's Psalms? When King David wrote Psalms, he wrote them with an element of ruach Ha-Kodesh, a level of prophecy, granted to him by the Eternal One. In Psalm 117 it states, "Praise God all of the nations, give credit all of the peoples for the Almighty has overwhelmed us (the Jewish people) with His kindness -- and the truth of the Almighty is forever."

One can understand that those nations of the world who have positive feelings for the Jewish people and appreciate their own benefit from the blessing that the Almighty gave the world through the Jewish people ("Those who bless you will be blessed") will praise the Almighty for His kindnesses to us. However, there are those who don't like the Jewish people -- why should they be called upon to give credit to the Almighty and praise Him for what He does for us?

Here is the answer -- and one step closer to explaining the connection between the Darwin Awards and the Psalms. Throughout history many nations and peoples of the world set out to harm or destroy the Jewish people only to have their plans foiled through "circumstances." These plans rarely come to light and only those people who set out to do us harm can truly recognize how the Jewish people are miraculously protected from the intent of their plans. They are the ones called upon to give praise and credit to the Almighty and to recognize Him and the truth of His Eternal covenant with the Jewish people!

So, how is this connected to the Darwin Awards? Having lived in Israel it is a frequent occurrence to read in the paper of miraculous near-misses, non-explosions, early explosion of bombs intended to harm Jews. Infrequently, do we hear the rest of the story on how we are saved from our enemies. An incident one year ago in Israel won a Darwin Award this year (

"(5 September 1999, Jerusalem) In most parts of the world, the switch away from Daylight Savings Time proceeds smoothly. But the time change raised havoc with Palestinian terrorists.

"Israel insisted on making a premature switch from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time to accommodate a week of Slihot, involving pre-sunrise prayers. Palestinians unequivocally refused to "live on Zionist Time." Two weeks of scheduling havoc ensued. Nobody knew the "correct" time.

"At precisely 5:30 Israel time on Sunday, two coordinated car bombs exploded in different cities, killing three terrorists who were transporting the bombs. It was initially believed that the devices had been detonated prematurely by klutzy amateurs. A closer look revealed the truth behind the untimely explosions.

"The bombs had been prepared in a Palestine-controlled area, and set on Daylight Savings time. The confused drivers had already switched to standard time. When they picked up the bombs, they neglected to enquire whose watch was used to set the timing mechanism. As a result, the cars were still en-route when the explosives detonated, delivering to the terrorists their well-deserved demise."

The Jewish people are known for three character traits: mercy, kindness and moral-sensitivity. It is incumbent upon us to look upon all of humanity with kindness and compassion -- after all, every human being is created in the image of God -- no matter how people dimwittedly they use their free will. I think we can make an exception in this case!

Torah Portion of the Week
Ki Tavo

This week's portion includes: Bringing to the Temple as an offering the first fruits of the Seven Species special to the Land of Israel, Declaration of tithes, The Almighty designating the Jewish people as His treasured people (Deut. 26:16 -19), The command to set up in the Jordan River and then on Mount Ebal large stones which had the Torah written upon them in 70 languages, The command to have a public ratification of the acceptance of the Law from Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal; The Torah then sets forth the blessings for following the Law and the curses for not following it, and concludes with Moshe's final discourse.


Dvar Torah

People often ask, at least to themselves, what's in it for me?" The question is there for every decision in life -- including religion. Since we as Jews probably ask ourselves that question in some way or another regarding learning Torah and doing the Mitzvot, I thought this week to bring a "guest author" to present a definitive answer. I present to you, the Almighty, (in translation) from this week's Torah portion!

"It shall be that if you listen to the voice of the Almighty, your God, to observe, to perform all of His commandments that I (Moses) command you this day, then the Almighty, your God, will make you supreme over all nations of the earth. And all of these blessings will come upon you ... if you listen to the voice of the Lord, your God:

"You shall be blessed in the city and in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your animals -- the calves of your cattle and the flocks of your sheep and your goats. Blessed shall be your fruit basket and your kneading bowl.

"Blessed shall you be when you come in and blessed shall you be when you go out. The Almighty shall cause your enemies who come to attack you to be struck down before you; on one road they will march towards you and on seven roads they will flee from you.

"The Almighty will command to you this blessing on your storehouses and on all of your actions and you will be blessed in the land that the Lord, your God, gives you. The Almighty will establish you to Him as a holy people, as He swore to you -- if you will keep the commandments of the Lord, your God, and go in His ways. And then all of the peoples of the earth will see that the name of the Almighty is proclaimed upon you and they will revere you.

"God will give you bountiful goodness, in the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your animals and the fruit of your land -- on the land that the Almighty swore to your forefathers to give to you. God will open for you His good storehouse in heaven to provide proper rain at the right time and to bless everything you do. You will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow.

"And the Almighty will make you a head and not a tail; and you will be only above and not below -- if you will listen to the commandments of the Lord, your God, that I command you this day to guard and to do. And do not stray to the right or to the left from any of the things that I command you this day to go after other gods to worship them." (Deuteronomy 28:1 -14).

CANDLE LIGHTING - September 15:

Jerusalem 6:11   Miami 7:06  New York 6:46
L.A. 6:41  Hong Kong 6:09  Singapore 6:46
Guatemala  5:46  Honolulu   6:16  J'Burg 5:42
Melbourne 6:52  Moscow 6:29  London 6:57
Atlanta 7:25  Toronto 7:09  Montreal 6:47


Your thoughts determine what you want;
your actions determine what you get.

Dedicated by...

In Loving Memory of
Peter Baumgarten
by Mel Haas