September 25, 2009
Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates. The words we choose are important.
1946 psychologist Wendell
Johnson discovered that not a single full-blooded
Indian living on a reservation stuttered. He noted that perhaps not
coincidentally, none of the Indian
languages and dialects contain the word
'stutter.' According to an experienced prison counsellor, over 90%
of men and women incarcerated today were repeatedly told by their parents,
"One of these days you're going to wind up in jail."
what might have happened if they had been repeatedly told "If you keep
studying like that, one of these days you'll get a scholarship to college."
Or, "If you continue to be that thoughtful and courteous you'll have lots
of friends." The words we use with our children and ourselves can
certainly make a difference.
Deuteronomy 31: 1 -- 52
Ha'Azinu is comprised primarily of Moses' "song" about the horrible
tragedies and supreme joy which will make up the Jewish people's future
history. While not a song in the familiar sense, Moses' "song"
is a blend of otherwise disparate ideas into a beautiful symphony of thought.
It expresses the idea that everything that G-d does -- past, present and future
-- somehow fits into a perfect harmony, although our limited human
understanding prevents completely recognizing the wisdom of G-d.
Ha'Azinu contains the mitzvah for each Jew to write a Sefer Torah (Torah
scroll). Many suggest that this mitzvah can be fulfilled by the purchase
of books containing Torah content. Does your home contain any books of Torah? Today
there is an abundance of excellent Torah books written in
English that are available. Let me suggest two: The Stone Chumash
(5 Books of Moses),
and Living Each Week by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski. Ha'azinu
concludes with G-d's command to Moses to ascend Mount Nebo,
where he will view the land of Israel
and then pass away.
beginning of a meaningful Yom Kippur
(which begins this coming Sunday night)involves being able to
admit our past mistakes. Excusiology -- the inability to admit our guilt
-- has been around for a long time, and things haven't changed very much
over the past 5,770 years. Let me share with you part of the sermon on this
topic that I delivered over Rosh Hashana.
say that the sin of Adam and Eve was because they disobeyed G-d's
instructions not to eat from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. But on
closer analysis, they weren't punished immediately after their colossal
mistake. G-d engaged Adam in conversation, giving him the opportunity to
admit what he did. Adam didn't accept this opportunity.
Instead he said, "the woman who you gave to me - she gave me of the tree
and I ate." Adam avoided responsibility for his sin, shifting
it onto Eve.
Then G-d turned
to Eve, also giving her a chance to repent. However, she too declined the
offer, saying, “the serpent deceived me and I ate.” Only then did G-d
punish them for the sin. It's clear that had they taken
responsibility for their actions when G-d confronted them that the punishment
would have been far lighter. Who knows how different the course of history
might have been?
And incredibly, Adam even blamed G-d for his mistake. He said,
'The woman you gave me caused me to eat.! Talk about being an
(For the full text of my
sermon on 'Excusiology', please contact me via email at Pepshort613@sbcglobal.net)
Quote of the Week
There is but one morality, as
there is but one geometry -- Voltaire
Joke of the Week
Harvey had an important message to deliver to Sheldon, who
was in synagogue on Yom Kippur. Harvey approached an usher at
the synagogue entrance and asked if he could quickly speak to
Sheldon. To Harvey's dismay, the usher said, " I'm sorry,
sir. You don't have a ticket. No one is allowed into services on Yom
Kippur without a ticket." Harvey said, "But I only want to go
in for a moment to tell my friend an important message." The
usher said, "Sir, I'm truly sorry. Without a ticket, we can't
let anyone in. People pay a lot of money for these tickets." Harvey
pleaded with the usher, promising that he would only remain in the sanctuary
for a moment. Finally, the usher relented, saying, "Well, ok.
I'll let you in for just a moment. But don't let me catch you praying in
Thanks for reading 'Beyond
Twelve Gates'. Comments, questions, requests to be added to our email
list or better jokes can be sent to Pepshort613@sbcglobal.net or firstname.lastname@example.org Care to know more about Nusach Hari Bnai
Zion Congregation? Check us out at www.nhbz.org If you enjoyed Beyond Twelve Gates, please
share with a friend. Thanks to Alan Haber for his assistance in