Selected Sermon/Article
2009-11-13 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Chayei Sarah
Beyond Twelve Gates Parshas Chayei Sarah November 13, 2009

Beyond Twelve Gates    Parshas Chayei Sarah     November 13, 2009


 Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates. The 950th time is a charm.

       In the news this week was a story about a woman in South Korea who tried to pass the written exam for a driver's license with near-daily attempts since April 2005. She finally succeeded  -- on her 950th time.  The aspiring driver spent more than $4,200 in application fees, but until this month failed to score the minimum 60 out of a possible 100 points needed to get behind the wheel for a driving test.  Now she must pass a driving test. Good luck!


    John D. Rockefeller once said, "I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance.  It overcomes almost everything, even nature."  If we're tempted to give up, that moment might be just the place and time that the tide will turn.  Whether it be in our effort to learn something new  or in a struggle with a difficult situation or relationship -- remember that the 950th time is a charm.


Parshas Chayei Sarah  Genesis 23:1 -- 25:18


      Chayei Sarah begins with Sarah's death at the age of 127 and Abraham's search for a proper burial place which would be worthy of her greatness.  Abraham is conned by Ephron (a member of the Hittite nation which lived in the land of Israel) into paying an extremely large sum of money for her place of burial.  Sarah is buried in M'arat MaMachpelah -- the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in Hebron.  Do you know who else is buried there?


     Abraham sends his faithful servant Eliezer back to the old country (Aram Naharaim -- not University City) to find a suitable wife for Isaac.  Eliezer devises a plan by which he will find a modest, generous and kind girl, fitting for his master's son.  Eliezer decides to stand by the town's well, waiting for a girl to offer him and his camels water to drink.  Suddenly Rebecca appears and exerts great effort to draw water for a stranger and his ten camels.   She brings Eliezer to her father's house, whereupon Abraham's servant asks that Rebecca return with him to marry Isaac. She accepts, and they are married.  The Torah states that "Isaac married Rebecca ....and he loved her.."  This teaches us that true love comes after marriage, not before.


Rabbinic Ruminations


     It's November again. Veteran's Day was commemorated earlier this week.  There is a quotation variously attributed to Winston Churchill or George Orwell.  Regardless of our individual politics, regardless of our beliefs about the rightness or wrongness of a particular war, the words are worth reflecting upon anew this week -- particularly in light of the recent tragedy at Ft. Hood, Texas.


"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."


   It is difficult to visualize the pain of our soldiers' repeated and extended tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It is difficult to put ourselves into the “shoes” of the husband or wife of a Regular Army or National Guard soldier going off for a long deployment.  A spouse is left  home trying to run the house, raise the kids, find the money to pay the mortgage…all the while worrying if their loved one will return home in one piece -- or will return home at all. 


   Strictly speaking, Veterans Day is to honor U.S. Veterans.  At our synagogue, however, we also mention and honor the brave soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces who, along with American soldiers and veterans, pay a steep price so that in America and in Israel we may "sleep soundly in our beds."  May G-d bless all our soldiers and veterans.

Quote of the Week

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending -- Maria Robinson

Joke of the Week

An older man is sitting at the back of a crowded bus in Israel, jam-packed with passengers.  He suddenly begins to moan, "Oi, am I thirsty…! Oiiiiii, ammmm IIIII thirsty…" he kvetches loudly. Ten, twenty, thirty minutes go by, and he's still complaining. Everyone on the bus can hear him and he's driving the other passengers crazy. Finally, somebody begs the bus driver to stop the bus so they can get this man a drink. They pull into a rest stop and somebody runs in and brings him a big bottle of water. He drinks the entire bottle without coming up for air. The bus pulls out and everybody breathes a sigh of relief. Suddenly, from the back seat, "Oi, was I thirsty. Oiiiiiiiiiii, wassssss IIIIIIII thirsty…"

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