Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates. Husbands, if you end up in
the doghouse, consider it a promotion. One-third of pet-owning, married women
said their pets are better listeners than their spouses, according to a
recent Associated Press poll. Why do some feel that their pets
make such good listeners? In some situations a good listener may be
someone who will nod, show concern and understanding, and who will stand by
you regardless of the decision you make. Additionally, a good listener
won't be easily distracted during the conversation. It's been said that
"the first duty of love is to listen." Gentlemen; apparently many
of us have been lax in our duty.
Bernard Baruch once said, "Most of the successful people
I've known are the ones who do more listening than
talking." Whether it be a spouse, significant other,
relative, co-worker or friend, the quality of our relationships will
undoubtedly improve if we become better listeners.
Parshas Emor Leviticus 21:1 -
Following the command in last week's portion to be sanctified
and holy, Parshas Emor begins by discussing various laws directed
specifically to the Kohanim and the Kohen Gadol (High Priest).
Included is the command for the Kohen to refrain from becoming ritually
impure through contact with a dead body (except for close relatives) and
increased restrictions on whom they may marry. G-d requires
those with greater spiritual responsibilities to maintain a higher
standard of spiritual purity. Parshas Emor contains two of the most
significant mitzvos in the entire Torah; to always be mindful of not
desecrating G-d's name, and on the contrary, to sanctify Him at all
The Torah goes on to discuss the festivals of the year --
Pesach, Shavuos, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Succos and Shemini Atzeres.
The festivals, including Shabbos, are referred to continually as moadim,
appointed times; they are special days when Jews "meet,", as it
were, with G-d. The festivals interrupt our ordinary
weekday activities and inspire us to rededicate ourselves to those
ideals that life is really about. Later, two constant mitzvos
maintained in the Mishkan are stated: the daily lighting of the menorah
and the weekly display of the lechem hapanim (showbread). The
portion concludes with the horrible incident of a man who cursed G-d's name.
Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates. On my return
flight from a rabbinical conference earlier this week, I had a chance to
leaf through the SkyMall magazine in the seat-back pocket in front of
me. I wasn't in the market for a laser-guided pool cue,
kaleidoscopic pool cruising fish, or video recording sunglasses
that "allow you to discreetly record all that you see."
But I was fascinated by the creativity (and expense!) of these gadgets that
I'm certain that, for the most part, will wind up in the back of a
closet. I was reminded of the quote by American humorist Will Rogers,
who once said "Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend
money they don't have for something they don't need."
Some modern technological devices can improve the quality of our
lives. On the other hand, Judaism encourages us to control our
consumption and to create an atmosphere in our homes and communities where
money and "things" are not center stage. When we emphasize a
value system in which spiritual achievements are paramount, our children
are much less likely to feel deprived even if their friend does have the
latest laser-guided pool cue. Whether you're rich or poor, it's nice to
have money. But we should ensure that material possessions -- and
certainly gadgets -- not become the focus of our lives.
Quote of the Week
Surely something must be terribly wrong with a man who seems to
be far more concerned with a Jew building a house in Israel
than with Muslims building a nuclear bomb in Iran
-- Bert Prelutsky (columnist)
Joke of the Week
A rabbi was walking down the street when suddenly a strong gust
of wind blew his streimel (fur hat) off his
head. A young non-Jew named Jimmy ran after the
hat, caught it, and handed it to the rabbi. The rabbi was so
pleased that he put his hand on Jimmy's head and blessed
Jimmy decided to try out his 'new blessing' at the racetrack with a $20
bet. He later returned home and told his father about
his exciting day. "I arrived at the fifth race," Jimmy
said. "I looked at the racing program and saw a
horse named Top
Hat was running. The odds on this
horse were 100-to-1. After the rabbi's blessing, I
thought this was a message from G-d. So, I bet the entire $20 on
Top Hat. An amazing thing happened. The horse that was such
a long shot won by 5 lengths, and I won $2000. In the following
race, a horse by the name of Stetson was running. The odds on the horse
were 30 to 1. Stetson came in like a rocket. Now I had $60,000!"
"Are you telling me you brought home all this money?"
asked his excited father. "No," said Jimmy. "I
lost it all on the next race. There was a horse named Chateau, which is
French for hat. So I decided to bet all the money on Chateau. But
the horse broke down and came in last." "Hat in French is
"Chapeau" not "Chateau," said the father. Tell me, what
horse won the race?"
Jimmy answered, "Oh, some horse from Japan named