Selected Sermon/Article
2009-11-27 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Vayeitzei
Beyond Twelve Gates Parshas Vayeitzei November 27, 2009

Beyond Twelve Gates      Parshas Vayeitzei       November 27, 2009


     Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  Everyone needs encouragement -- even Brett Favre.  The  Future Hall of Fame quarterback, 40, is having one of his finest seasons.  Although he's making it look easy, Favre said he's needed many pep talks from a close friend to help him with "doubt and maybe some insecurities" because his "confidence was not at a high level."  Favre, who was lured out of retirement in August, said he "didn't really believe or buy into" the talk that he could still produce at a championship-caliber pace.  "But as the season has progressed, (his friend) is always saying, 'I told you so. You can do it. You can make those throws.' "


Someone once said, " Remember, man doesn't live on bread alone: sometimes he needs a little buttering up."  Think of someone who could use a pep talk.


Parshas Vayeitzei   Genesis 28:10 -- 32:3


     Jacob escapes from his wicked brother Esau and travels to Charan, where he will stay with his uncle Laban.  While spending the night at the future site of the Temple, G-d appears to Jacob in a dream.   Rich in symbolism and meaning, the dream depicts a ladder extending from heaven to earth upon which angels are ascending and descending.  After arriving in Charan, Jacob meets Laban's daughter Rachel and agrees to work for Laban for seven years for her hand in marriage.  When the wedding night finally arrives, Laban deceives Jacob by substituting his older daughter Leah in Rachel's place.  After waiting a week, Jacob marries Rachel also, but not without being forced to commit to another seven years of labor.


     Over the next few years Rachel remains barren, while Leah gives birth to six sons and a daughter, and Bilhah and Zilpah (the maidservants of Rachel and Leah respectively) each have two sons with Jacob.  Finally Rachel also has a son, Joseph.  Jacob becomes very wealthy during his twenty-year stay with Laban, even though his father-in-law continually tries to swindle him.  After seeking counsel with his wives, Jacob and his family flee from Laban, who pursues and confronts him, upset that he left without saying goodbye and arrogantly claiming that Jacob stole his idols.  Eventually they sign a peace treaty and part ways.


Rabbinic Ruminations    


      Thanksgiving is a time to focus on our blessings. What would you say if I asked you if you were a millionaire? 


    Imagine being asked to participate in an experimental study conducted at a local medical center.   Payment for volunteers is $1 million.  Interested?  Of course, you'd want to know precisely what the study entailed.  If you were told that participants would be subject to a painless procedure resulting in permanent blindness, would you still be interested in volunteering?  For $5 million? $10 million?    I've never met a person who answered "Yes", regardless of the amount of money that was hypothetically offered.


      The good news is; since you're reading this, you can see.  And since you were unwilling to accept $1 million (or more) for your eyesight, that means that you have an asset worth at least $1 million.  Let me again pose the original question:  are you a millionaire?  Did you say yes?  Congratulations!


     An 'attitude of gratitude' can transform our lives for the better. Each of us has so many blessings.  Our freedom.  Our family. Our friends. Our health.  Our understanding of truth.   Thanksgiving is a time to focus on our blessings.


Quote of the Week


Never tell people how to do things.  Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity -- General George Patton


Joke of the Week


An observant/orthodox Canadian Jew made aliyah to Israel.  Proficient in skiing, Moshe tried out for -- and made -- the Israeli Winter Olympic team.  With fantastic times in the trial heats of the slalom (a race where the skier must past through 20 gates),  Moshe was the favorite for the Olympic gold medal.


Come the day of the final, the crowd waited in anticipation.  The French champion sped down the course in 38 seconds.  The Swiss in 38.7 seconds. The German in 37.8 seconds. The Italian in 38.1 seconds   Then came Moshe's turn.  The crowd waited and waited .... Finally, after a full five minutes, he crossed the finish line. 


"What happened to you?" screamed his coach when the skier finally arrived.

Breathing hard, Moshe replied, "All right, who was the wise guy who put a mezuzah on every gate?"  (joke from Alan Zarkowsky)


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