Selected Sermon/Article
2009-10-02 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Beyond Twelve Gates Sukkos October 2, 2009

Beyond Twelve Gates                    Sukkos                       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 asleep.


Torah Reading for Sukkos


     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.


    The 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. 


    By binding these species together and holding them at one time, we express the unity of all Jews.


Rabbinic Ruminations


     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.


    Are you worried about Iran?  Don't be.


     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 called Palestine.   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 corruption charges.

      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 their hands.


Quote of the Week


Creativity is a drug I cannot live without -- Cecil B. DeMille


Joke 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.. 


Rabbi 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?"

"That is correct."

"I'd like to verify that this past year Mr. Goldman donated $10,000 to your congregation."


     Pausing for a moment, and with a smile on his face, the rabbi said, "Oh yes, HE WILL.  Oh yes, HE WILL."


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