Selected Sermon/Article
2009-08-14 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Re'eh
Beyond Twelve Gates Parshas Re'eh August 14, 2009

Beyond Twelve Gates                  Parshas Re'eh                         August 14, 2009


Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  Someone once said that "The purpose of life is a life of purpose."   I believe that a purpose in life is something we discover, not create.  A purpose is like the Tin Man's heart in the Wizard of Oz -- he already had a heart, but needed help in finding the one he always had.


How do we discover our purpose?  Here are two suggestions;


1) Make a list of all your positive qualities.  Arrange them in sentences beginning with ' I am..."  When you hear a 'click', that just might be your purpose.


2)  Discuss your quest for purpose with your life-mentors and friends. Don't have a mentor or friend?  Time to start shopping for one, as Ethics of Our Fathers (1:6) teaches, " ... accept upon yourself a mentor, and acquire a friend."  


Parshas Re'eh -- Deuteronomy 11:26 - 16:17


Moses informs the Jewish people that each of us face a choice;  choose to observe G-d's directions for living (i.e. the Torah) and receive blessings, or choose to ignore G-d and experience estrangement and its consequences.  Moses then turns to describing a number of religious, civil and social laws relevant once the Jewish people enter the Promised Land.  Included in this listing are:


-- Don't imitate the abominable ways of the nations surrounding you

-- A false prophet who attempts to entice you to idolatry should be put to death

-- Self infliction of wounds on the body as a sign of mourning is prohibited

-- As a holy people, refrain from eating 'non-kosher' food

-- Be particularly warm-hearted and charitable to our fellow Jews

-- The three pilgrimage festivals (Passover, Shavous and Sukkos) are opportunities to ascend (make aliyah) to Jerusalem and the Temple to celebrate our blessings



Rabbinic Ruminations


Most people I know derive great pleasure from listening to music.  Some listen to classical music, others enjoy country music, and others listen to rock and rap.  Have you ever thought what it is about music that is so enjoyable?


Someone once asked a rabbi who happened to be a prolific composer of music why music was so important.


'Music has the ability to bring a person closer to G-d,' he replied


But aren't the many books written on Torah topics sufficient? " the man asked. "Can a tune do more than these writings?"



The rabbi told the story of a man who came into a store to buy an alarm clock.  "Why do you need an alarm clock?" the proprietor asked.  "You live just beneath the city clock that chimes on the hour."


"Yes," the customer said, "but because it chimes every hour, I have become accustomed to it."


The rabbi explained, ' Torah writings are indeed very valuable.  However, precisely because we are accustomed to them, they may not arouse our emotions.  That is why we need music."


Music is certainly for enjoyment; however, music can also serve the purpose of inspiring us.


Quote of the Week


Non-violence does not admit of running away from danger ...between violence and cowardly flight I can only prefer violence to cowardice -- Mohandas Gandhi



Joke of the Week


The priest, minister and rabbi were discussing what their respective religions believe concerning the beginning of life.   The priest said, 'We Catholics believe that life begins at conception.'  The minister said, 'We Protestants believe that life begins when the child emerges from its mother.'  The rabbi smiled and said, 'We Jews believe that life begins when the dog dies and the last child graduates medical school!'


Thanks for reading 'Beyond Twelve Gates'.  Comments, questions, requests to be added to our email list or better jokes can be sent to or   Care to know more about Nusach Hari Bnai Zion Congregation?  Check us out at  If you enjoyed Beyond Twelve Gates, please share with a friend. Thanks to Alan Haber for his assistance in distributing BTG