Selected Sermon/Article
2009-10-23 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Noach
Beyond Twelve Gates Parshas Noach October 23, 2009

Beyond Twelve Gates     Parshas Noach          October 23, 2009


Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  Giving makes life worthwhile.


     Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone" series once featured a story about a gambler who dies and is transported to a room where there is a gambling table and a dealer.  Every time he rolls the dice, he scores. Every hand he holds is a winner.  The living quarters are plush and supplied with everything he wants.  At first, the man believes he is in paradise.  He should be happy, but he is completely and totally alone.  The fun of sharing his winnings with someone else is missing.  He finally concluded that he is not in heaven, as he had first thought.  He is in hell.


    Albert Einstein believed that "only a life lived for others is worth living." Giving certainly improves the quality of our lives.


Parshas Noach     Genesis 6:9 -- 11:32


     As a result of Mankind's evil, G-d brings a flood to destroy every living creature. Only Noah, his family, and at least one pair of every animal species were spared.  Trivia question: Do you know the name of Noah's wife? (hint -- it is NOT 'Joan of Ark')   When the flood waters begin to recede after a lengthy deluge, Noah sends forth from the ark a raven and a dove to determine whether the land has dried sufficiently so that they can leave the ark to resettle the earth once again.  G-d promises that He will never again destroy all of Mankind by means of a flood, and He designates the rainbow as a sign for that eternal covenant.


     Noah plants a vineyard, drinks from its produce and becomes drunk. In his intoxicated state, he shamefully uncovers himself.  While his son Cham dealt with his father inappropriately, Noah's other two sons, Shem and Yefet, cover their father in a respectful manner.  Generations pass and the world is repopulated. The people attempt to wage war against G-d by building the Tower of Babel.  G-d responds by mixing up their languages into a 'babble', and dispersing them across the planet.


Rabbinic Ruminations



     Following the flood described in this week's Torah portion, one noticeable change was the reduction of the average human life span by approximately one tenth.  Instead of people routinely living until 700 years of age (or more), the average lifespan was drastically reduced to about 70.  Why the change?


   A wise man once said, "A ship is safe in the harbor, but that's not what ships were made for.  A ship was made to sail."   A key to happiness and peace of mind is being actively engaged with life, even in old age.  This past Monday's New York Times crossword puzzle was created by Bernice Gordon of Philadelphia.  Her first weekday puzzle appeared in the Times in 1952.  Bernice has the distinction of being the oldest known puzzlemaker in the newspaper's history;  she is 95 years old.   In case you were wondering -- I wasn't able to finish the puzzle.  Thanks, Bernice!


    Long life is a tremendous blessing when we use our time productively.  The generation of the Flood misused the blessing of long life.  Therefore, their average lifespan was reduced.   Whether it be creating complex puzzles, performing acts of kindness for our families and others, or simply continuing our own personal learning and growth, we function best when we're mentally and spiritually engaged.



Quote of the Week


If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you -- Arthur McAuliff


Joke of the Week

Christopher told his two good friends Moshe and Chaim, "Gee, I wish I could join your Jewish country club!" Moshe said, "Well, Chris, you could just pretend to be Jewish. We'll create a name and business for you, and you can apply and no one will ever know!"  The two friends prepped Chris what to say, and the next day he went to join the country club.

"What's your name?" the country club manager asked Chris.

"Yossie Friedman," Chris said.

"What's your occupation?

"I own a factory.  We manufacture taleisim (Jewish prayer shawls)."

"Wow! How interesting!" the manager said.   You know that writing that goes around the collar? I never knew what that meant.  What does it say?"

Without missing a beat, Christopher said,  "I wouldn't know. My company only makes the sleeves."  (Joke heard from Marcia Kern)


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