Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.
Comedienne Phyllis Diller once said, "A smile is a curve that
sets everything straight." A new study reports that if you
smile, you may even live longer.
Researchers at Wayne State University
in Detroit used
information from the Baseball Register to look at photos of 230 professional
baseball players from before 1950.. A rating
of their smile intensity was made (big smile, no smile, partial smile), and
compared with data from deaths that occurred in 2006 and 2009. For
those players who had died, the researchers found longevity ranged from an
average of 72.9 years for players with no smiles to 75 years for players with
partial smiles to 79.9 years for players with big
smiles. Researchers also found that people
who smile often are usually happier, have more stable personalities,
more stable marriages, better cognitive skills and better interpersonal
says, "Better to whiten your teeth (smile) at your friend than to
give him milk (even if he's very thirsty)" Our
experience in life teaches us that smiling definitely gives one more energy to live and to love. It may even help us
to live longer!
Leviticus 9:1 -- 11:47
This week's Torah portion begins by discussing the events which
occurred on the eighth and final day of the inauguration service of the Mishkan. After months of preparation and
anticipation, Aaron and his sons are finally installed as Kohanim
in an elaborate service. Aaron blesses the people, and the entire nation
rejoices as G-d's presence rests upon them.
However, the excitement come to an abrupt halt as Aaron's two eldest sons, Nadav and Avihu,
are consumed by a heavenly fire in the Mishkan
while innovating an offering of incense on the altar. This
incident stresses the need to perform the commandments only as G-d directed.
Later, Moses consoles Aaron, who grieves in silence.
Have you ever wondered where the laws of kosher food
come from? Parshas Shemini
concludes with a listing of the kosher and non-kosher animals. The
identifying sign of a kosher land animal is that it has split hooves and
chews, regurgitates and re-chews its food. A kosher fish is identified
by having both fins and scales. All birds
not included in the list of forbidden fowl are permitted. However, in this
day and age the exact identities of these non-kosher birds
is doubtful, so we're forbidden to eat any species of bird unless
there is a well-established tradition that it is kosher. The Torah forbids all
types of insects except for four species of locusts. Chocolate-covered
grasshoppers, anyone? The laws of kashrut help
us to be separate and holy -- like G-d, Himself.
A giant lizard, recently discovered in the forested mountains of
has been hailed by experts as "an incredible find." While it is not
that unusual to find a new species of tiny fish, frog or insect these days,
the discovery of the 6.5 foot golden-spotted monitor lizard - a new species
-- has the scientific community abuzz. Scientists compare this
find to the 1993 discovery of the forest-dwelling Saola
ox in Vietnam and to a new
monkey species discovered in the highlands of Tanzania in 2006.
The discovery of the new lizard is noteworthy from a Torah
perspective. A land animal is kosher if it has split hooves and chews its
cud. In this week's Torah portion (Shemini)
we're told that only four animals (camel, hare, hyrax and pig) in the entire world have just one of the two
'kosher' signs. Could a human author of the Torah, written 3300 years ago in the Middle East,
have made such a claim? Could that author have traveled to the
Australian Outback, Amazon Rainforest and Himalayan Peaks to view and examine every single
animal in the world? The credibility of the Torah would certainly be
called into question if a fifth animal with only one kosher sign was later
discovered in, for example, the forested mountains of the Philippines.
The golden-spotted monitor lizard does not have split
hooves, nor does it chew its cud. The Author of the Torah -- 'Author' with a
capital 'A' -- knew better than Steve Irwin, Marlin Perkins and all
future animal biologists that no fifth animal with one kosher sign would ever
be found. That's because, of course, the Author of the Torah is G-d.
Quote of the Week
We have to use the time we have left -- Jack Bauer (Star of '24')
Joke of the Week
Nigel Goldberg was waiting in line to be knighted by
the Queen. Like the nine others before him, Nigel practiced in
Latin for several months his sentence of acceptance. Each of
the first nine men flawlessly uttered their line in the ancient
language. However, when Nigel's turn came, he panicked in the
excitement of the moment and completely forgot what he was supposed to
say. . Thinking fast, Nigel recited a sentence in a foreign
language which he remembered from his youth -- something that was said at his
family Passover seder:
"Ma nishtana ha layla
ha zeh mi kol ha laylos."
Puzzled, Her Majesty turns to her advisor and whispered, "Why is this
knight different from all other knights?"