October 2, 2009
Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates. In the aftermath of Yom Kippur it's worthwhile to consider keeping a
record of your progress. Chesbon
HaNefesh -- a spiritual accounting -- enables
us to reflect upon the good, the bad and the ugly (our thoughts
and actions, not the Clint
Eastwood film). The classic way of recording such things
is a journal or diary. In the electronic age, you might keep a file in
your computer. You could use a tape recorder and periodically 'debrief'
yourself. Whatever it is that you do, do it consistently. There
are four prime opportunities to take a Spiritual Accounting: 1) Yom Kippur, 2) At the end of each month,
3) At the end of each week, and 4) Each night before you fall
The Torah reading cycle
is suspended for the first two days of the seven day holiday of Sukkos. On both Shabbos and
Sunday (October 3 & 4) the Torah reading is from Leviticus 22:26 -- 23:
44. It includes a description of the featured mitzvos
of the holiday. During Sukkos we dwell in
a 'Sukkah' -- a
booth or hut whose roof is made of detached tree branches and
other natural material. As the weather begins to turn cooler, we leave the comfort of the indoors for our Sukkah. In it we joyously reflect upon what we
achieved over the course of the High Holidays and renew our
commitment to spirituality and a G-d centered life.
Torah reading also describes the 4 Species (Arba
Minim) used on Sukkos: The palm branch (lulav), citron (esrog),
myrtle branches (hadassim), and willow
branches (aravos). A well known
concept is that the the 4 Species represent
distinct personality types: 1) The edible and fragrant esrog symbolizes one who is both Torah--learned
and charitable, 2) the lulav, which bears
sweet dates but totally lacks fragrance, represents one who is learned but
lacking in good deeds, 3) the fragrant but inedible hadas
symbolizes one who excels in good deeds but is unlearned, and 4) the arava symbolizes a simple person, lacking both
Torah knowledge and good deeds.
binding these species together and holding them at one time, we express the
unity of all Jews.
The past week Iran
was caught with its nuclear pants down when it was revealed that it
has been secretly building a new uranium enrichment plant. Israel
and others fear that Iran's
nuclear program aims to make a bomb — and that the country is developing missiles
to carry nuclear
warheads. Iranian President Ahmadinejad has called for Israel to be wiped off the map,
and has denied the Holcaust.
worried about Iran?
Thirty five years ago Yassir Arafat
came to the U.N. General Assembly with a gun in his
holster. Arafat’s clock stopped running thirty years later
when G-d pulled the batteries. Yet Arafat never lived to see a country
Why did he live so long? When Israeli PM Ehud Barak
and Bill Clinton
offered Arafat a country -- with Jerusalem as its capital -- G-d
needed an Arab in charge who would say 'no.' One Israeli
Prime Minister after another has tried to give away Judah and Samaria,
along with parts of Jerusalem,
and strange things have happened. Ehud Olmert,
who was trying to give away the Golan Heights, resigned due to
G-d knows where the President of Iran lives
and where to find him. When the time is right, according to G-d's schedule,
things will be taken care of.
Remember the phrase from the Passover Hagada:
In every generation they rise up against us, but G-d saves us from
of the Week
Creativity is a drug I cannot live without
-- Cecil B. DeMille
of the Week
Rabbi Schwartz received a call from the IRS. The IRS agent asked the
rabbi if he could possibly answer a question or two..
Schwartz said, 'Certainly. How can I be of help?"
"Well, " the IRS agent said, "I understand that a Mr.
Sam Goldman is a member of your congregation. Is that true?"
like to verify that this past year Mr. Goldman donated $10,000 to your
Pausing for a moment, and with a smile on his face, the rabbi said, "Oh
yes, HE WILL. Oh yes, HE WILL."