Selected Sermon/Article
2009-10-30 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Lech Lecha
Beyond Twelve Gates Parshas Lech Lecha October 29, 2009

Beyond Twelve Gates     Parshas Lech Lecha        October 29, 2009


Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  Do you have goals?  Do you keep your goals in mind?


   A teenager named Jimmy was once hired by a farmer to help him complete fall plowing.  Jimmy's first day on the tractor was a disaster.  As Jimmy watched the plow turn the soil behind him he didn't realize that by the time he reached the end of the field, the row was noticeably crooked.  Toward the end of the day the farmer arrived to survey Jimmy's work.  The crooked rows prompted him to give this advice: "You can't plow a row straight if you keep looking back.  You have to keep your eyes straight ahead."


    So too with life.  Plowing our way into the future can be powered by clear goals.  Focusing on the past, what lies behind, will prevent us from effectively pursuing our future.  Goals provide the direction for us to focus our energies on what lies ahead.


Parshas Lech Lecha   Genesis 12:1 -- 17:27


    Abraham was called by G-d to leave his homeland, his father's house, and his position of status and prosperity to travel to the land that G-d would show him. Upon arrival with his wife Sarah and nephew Lot in the land of Israel, they discover it to be ravaged by a horrible famine. Traveling to descend to Egypt for a temporary stay, the immoral Egyptians immediately capture Sarah and take her to the Egyptian king.  G-d responds by afflicting the king and his household with a debilitating plague until he releases her.  Guess what the plague was?


  Back in the land of Israel, Lot parts ways with Abraham, with Lot relocating to the fertile plains of Sodom.  Abraham subsequently rescues the kidnapped Lot by miraculously defeating four kings and their armies.  G-d promises Abraham with a Covenant that his descendants will be as many as the stars in the sky.  Because she had no children, Sarah gives her maidservant Hagar to Abraham as a wife, and their son Yishmael is born.  At the age of 99, Abraham circumcises himself, his son Yishmael and the other male members of his household.


Rabbinic Ruminations


"The increase of wealth leads to the increase of worries" -- Pirkei Avos/Ethics of the Fathers



  Whether you're rich or poor, it's nice to have money.  Money does, however, carry with it certain risks. NBA fans will recognize the name of Antoine Walker.  Walker, a former Boston Celtics star for 12 years, made more than $110 million playing professional basketball.  During the last several months, the once multi-millionaire athlete has been pursued by multiple financial institutions for unpaid debts. Walker owes more than $4 million to his creditors and is facing felony check fraud charges in Las Vegas. All of this at the age of 33.


      Walker's home became a virtual luxury car lot — two Bentleys, two Mercedes, a Range Rover, a Cadillac Escalade, a bright red Hummer. Often, the vehicles were tricked out with custom paint jobs, rims, and sound systems at considerable added expense. He also collected top-line watches — Rolexes and diamond-encrusted Cartiers. However, Walker was also generous;  he had custom suits made for coaches, routinely picked up giant team dinner tabs and, when there were funds to spare, gave to underprivileged youngsters. And he built a a mansion in the Chicago suburbs for his mother, complete with an indoor pool and 10 bathrooms.


    Antoine Walker was basically spending money like it was going out of style.  And for him, it did.  Money, like all others pleasures of olam ha'zeh (this world) can be a wonderful blessing -- if we know how to use it properly.


Quote of the Week


Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts. -- Daniel Patrick Moynihan


Joke of the Week


  A business trip takes Chaim to Beijing.  On a morning walk, Chaim is shocked to see a sign written in Hebrew that says 'Beit Knesset' (synagogue).  Walking inside, Chaim is astounded to see 25 Chinese men praying while wearing talisim and tefillin. Not yet having said his morning prayers, Chaim quickly ran back to his hotel for his own talis and tefillin, and returned to the shul.


   After services one of the congregants approached Chaim.


"Welcome to our shul. Where are you from?"

"Chicago,", Chaim said.

"I hope you don't mind my asking but....are you Jewish?"

"Yes I am."

"Funny," the Chinese man said, "you don't look it."


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