Gates Parshas Vayechi January 1, 2010
Welcome to Beyond Twelve
Gates. If you had two and a half days of free time, what would you do?
Displaying extremely 'cool'
nerves, an Israeli man is trying to break the record for the amount of time
spent in a block of ice. Hezi Dayan will attempt to spend 65 hours inside
an eight-ton block of ice. Dayan is embedded inside a block of ice set up
on a special podium in Tel Aviv's central Rabin Square. What is Dayan's
motivation for this highly unusual venture? "My aim," Dayan
said Monday, "is that at two or three in the morning, people on their way
home from a night out will say, "come, let's go to the square and see if
that looney is in his ice." (Thought: should one use a 'Polaroid' camera to photograph the man-in-ice?)
How we spend our free
time often depends on our goals in life. Some follow a path of least
resistance, engaging in various forms of physical pleasure as ends unto
themselves. Some seek fame, glory and power. Others seek more
spiritually oriented activities that lead to personal growth and helping
others. If you had 65 hours of time that was completely unrestricted, how
would you use it? If you care to share, let me know.
Vayechi Genesis 47:28 -- 50:26
The final portion of the
first book of the Torah describes Jacob's actions
immediately preceding his death in Egypt.
Jacob makes Joseph swear to bury him in the land of Israel,
and then gives Joseph's two sons, Menashe and Ephraim,
a special blessing. Notwithstanding Joseph's protest, Jacob insists on
giving the younger Ephraim the right-hand position of primacy during the
blessing (is this the origin of 'my right-hand man'?).
Jacob then proceeds to give
each of his other sons their individual blessings in accordance with their own
unique character traits and life purpose. Jacob
passes away at the age of 147. He then is brought by his sons
and accompanied by a great procession of Egyptian royalty to the land of Israel where he is buried in M'aras
HaMachpelah (The Tomb of the Patriarchs). Upon their return to Egypt, Joseph's
brothers fear that he will finally take revenge now that their father is
dead. However, Joseph reassures them that he bears no hard
feelings. The portion concludes with Joseph's death and the Jewish
people's promise to carry his bones with them to Israel
when they are finally redeemed.
What is the value of a smile?
Before Jacob died, he blessed his son Judah with
the words "His eyes shall be red with wine; and his teeth white with
milk." (Genesis 49:12). The Talmud states that the phrase 'his teeth
white with milk' can be understood to mean 'when one shows his teeth (in a
smile) to his fellow man, it's better than giving him milk to drink.'
Just as milk provides essential nourishment, a smile enters the recipient's
mind and body to nourish their spirit and soul. We underestimate the
power and importance of a smile. A smile isn't simply a 'nice thing'; it's an essential
ingredient in the healthy continuity of the world.
Based upon a teaching
in Ethics of Our Fathers, here's a
three-step program for properly greeting another human being.
1) Your face has to express sever,
which means sevara, or thought. When you focus your face on another
person, he has to be able to see that you are thinking about him. You notice
him. You appreciate that this total stranger, no matter what his color,
ethnicity, culture or religion, was created in the image of G-d just as you
were, and is therefore worthy and important enough for you to concentrate on
him, even for a split second's time.
2) You have to turn your face
to that person, not your ear. Look directly into the face of the person as you
greet him and give him the full attention he deserves.
3) It is not enough merely to
show your face when you greet another person, it should be yafos - a
pleasant, beautiful face. Give him your best smile. Show him that you
are happy to see him.
Quote of the Week
Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever. -- Lance Armstrong
Joke of the Week
The synagogue realized that
it had never received a donation from its wealthiest member. So the rabbi
and the president paid Goldberg a visit in his expensive home.
The president opened the
meeting by saying, "Our research shows that even though your annual income
is over a million dollars, you've never given a donation to our synagogue
beyond payment of annual dues. Wouldn't you like to give something back
to your shul?"
Goldberg thinks for a minute and says, "First, did your research also
show you that my mother is dying after a long, painful illness and she has huge
medical bills that are far beyond her ability to pay? And secondly,
does your research show that my brother, a disabled veteran, is blind and
confined to a wheelchair and is unable to support his wife and six
children. And thirdly did your research also show you that my
sister's husband died in a dreadful car accident,
leaving her penniless with a mortgage and three children?"
The humiliated president stammered "I'm
sorry, I had no idea..."
At that, Goldberg said "So, if I don't give
money to them, what makes you think I would ever give any to you?"
Thanks for reading 'Beyond
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