Selected Sermon/Article
2009-12-11 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Vayeshev/ Chanukah
Beyond Twelve Gates Parshas Vayeshev/ Chanukah December 11, 2009

Beyond Twelve Gates   Parshas Vayeshev/ Chanukah   December 11, 2009


Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  With Chanukah almost upon us, here's an '8 Day Survival Kit' to help you make it through the holiday with a smile on your face.


 1) Toothpick -- to remind you to pick out the good qualities in others. 2) Rubber Band -- to remind you to be flexible, since things don't always go the way you want.  3) Band-Aid - to remind you to heal hurt feelings, yours or someone else's 4) Eraser -- to remind you that everyone makes mistakes, and to forgive them.  5) Chewing gum -- to remind you that if you stick with it, you can accomplish anything. 6) Hershey Kisses -- when  you need a hug. 7) Candle -- for when you're up late with someone who needs you. 8) Lifesaver candy (kosher, of course) -- to remind you that you're a lifesaver to so many people.


Enjoy a joyous Chanukah -- and remember not to eat too many latkes!


Parshas Vayeishev    Genesis 37:1-- 40:23


Jacob's favoritism toward Joseph incites the other brother's hatred. Their jealousy increases when Joseph tells  them about two dreams which indicate that they will one day be subservient to him.  Jacob sends Joseph to check up on his brothers, and upon seeing him approaching they plot to kill him. Reuben convinces the brothers not to kill Joseph, but is unable to totally save him as the brothers sell Joseph into slavery in Egypt. After dipping Joseph's coat in blood, they return to their father who assumes that his beloved son was torn apart by a savage beast.


The Torah then digresses to relate the story of Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar. The narrative then returns to Joseph in Egypt, where he becomes an extremely successful slave and is placed in charge of his master's household. His master's wife repeatedly tries to seduce Joseph, and when he refuses he is thrown into prison.  Ten years later, Pharoah's chief butler and baker are placed into the same prison.   One night they each have a perplexing dream that Joseph accurately interprets, setting the stage for his release from prison.


Rabbinic Ruminations


What is an essential lesson we should take from Chanukah?  Each Chanukah I contemplate the following beautiful thought that I read many years ago from Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski:



Why not light all 8 candles every night of the holiday, rather than one the first night, two the second, and so on?  The order of the lighting of the Chanukah candles teaches us two ideas.


First, we should always seek to increase our enlightenment and not be stagnant.  We should never be satisfied with whatever spiritual growth we have achieved, but should constantly seek to further our growth.


Secondly, it's a mistake to grasp too much too fast. Spiritual growth should be gradual, and we should adapt ourselves to each new level and integrate what we've achieved before going on to the next step.


Eight lights the first night would be too much and too soon, and each night thereafter would show no increase in light. (from Living Each Day, Rabbi Dr. A. Twerski)



Quote of the Week


Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect -- Vince Lombardi


Joke of the Week


Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , not feeling well and concerned about
his mortality, goes to consult a psychic about the date of his death.

The psychic closed her eyes, uttered some strange incantations, and then said: “You will die on a Jewish holiday.”

“Which one?’” Ahmadinejad asks nervously.

“It doesn't matter,” replied the psychic. “Any day you die, will be a Jewish holiday.”


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