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2010-04-30 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Emor


Beyond Twelve Gates -  Rabbi Ze'ev Smason

Parshas Emor  -  April 30, 2010



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 - 24:23


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 costs.  


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.


Rabbinic Ruminations


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 him.  

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 "Yamaka.' "




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