Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates. Is it ever really too late
to complete unfinished business? Shizo
Kanakuri ran the marathon at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. Or, he
started the marathon. Before finishing the race, the heat got to him and he
stopped. He was so embarrassed at not finishing that he booked early passage
back to his home in Japan
without telling the Olympic officials. Swedish authorities listed him as
missing for years. In 1962 a journalist caught up with him in Japan and
found he was unaware of the trouble he had caused. In 1966, Kanakuri returned to Sweden
and finally completed the unfinished marathon at age 75. His time from start
to finish in that marathon was 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 8 hours, 32
minutes and 20.3 seconds. "Better late than never" is, in most
cases, a Jewish value. It's never too late to say "I'm sorry"
or "I love you." It's never too late to decide to become
a better person and a better Jew. It's never too late to complete
Numbers 4:21 - 7:89
Not to be confused with 'Nassau'
-- the capital of the Bahamas
and a county in New York
-- Naso is the name of this week's Torah
portion. Here's some trivia; Naso
contains 176 verses. The longest tractate in the Talmud (Baba
Basra) has 176 pages, and the longest chapter in Tenach
(the Jewish Bible) is ....you guessed it ....176 verses (Psalm 119).
Coincidental? Bet you a piece of week-old cheesecake that it's
We show our love for the Torah on
this first Shabbos after receiving the Torah by
reading the longest Torah portion -- the 176 verses of Naso. Does someone in your family have a Bar
Mitzvah scheduled for Naso in a year or two?
Tell them not to worry about the length of the Parsha.
Much of Naso is repetitive and relatively easy to
Amongst the topics appearing in Naso is the mitzvah of the 'Sotah'. When
compelling circumstantial evidence suggests an act of marital infidelity may
have taken place, the Torah provides a means to clarify the hoped-for
innocence of the suspect parties. Contained in this mitzvah is
dissolving G-d's name that was written on a
parchment. We learn from this the supreme importance of shalom
bayis -- peace in the home. If G-d
allows His Holy Name to be erased for the sake of peace between husband and
wife, certainly each of us should seek shalom bayis
with our spouses and other family members. What can each of us do
to increase shalom bayis with those
whom we love?
Parshas Naso also describes the nazir
-- an individual who takes a vow to refrain from drinking
wine, cutting his hair, and other restrictions. Remember the story
of Samson? Samson -- who was a nazir
-- was the great Jewish judge and hero who 'brought down the house.'
Three of the most difficult words to say in the English
language may be: I was wrong. We regularly
meet people who can't bring themselves to admit mistakes. On occasion, some
of those people may even be -- the author of this column, and its readers!
In the early 1950's a social psychologist and two associates
infiltrated a group of people who believed the world would end on December 21.
In a study in the newly identified theory of cognitive dissonance, they
wanted to know what would happen to the group when the prophecy failed.
The group's leader, whom the researchers called Marian Keech, promised that the faithful would be picked up by a
flying saucer and elevated to safety at midnight on December 20. Many of her followers quit
their jobs, gave away their homes, and dispersed their savings, waiting for
the end. Who needs money in outer space? At midnight, with
no sign of a spaceship in the yard, the group felt a little nervous. By 2
a.m., they were getting seriously worried. At 4:45 a.m., Mrs. Keech had a new vision: The world had been spared (she
said) because of the impressive faith of her little band.
Ethics of Our
Fathers teaches that one of the seven things that
characterize a wise person is the ability to acknowledge the truth and admit
mistakes. Ted Turner
once said, "I once thought I was wrong -- but I was
mistaken." If we can find the spiritual strength to say "I'm
sorry", and "I was wrong", the quality of our lives and of our
relationships will improve dramatically.
Quote of the Week
Women's liberation is just a lot of foolishness. It's the
men who are discriminated against. They can't bear children. And
no one's likely to do anything about that -- Golda
Joke of the Week
Goldie Cohen, an elderly Jewish lady from New York,
goes to her travel agent. "I vont to go to India."
"Mrs. Cohen, why India? It's
filthy, much hotter than New York,
it's full of poor, dirty people. You'll get sick. Can you imagine the
hospital, no Jewish doctors? Why torture yourself?"
"I vont to go to India."
The necessary arrangements are made, and off she goes. She arrives in India and,
undeterred by the noise, smell and crowds, makes her way to an ashram. There
she joins the long line of people waiting for an audience with the guru.
After a wait of hours, Goldie eventually reaches the hallowed portals. There
she is told firmly that she can only say SEVEN words
to the guru.
She is ushered into the inner sanctum where the guru is seated, ready to
bestow spiritual blessings upon his eager initiates. Just before she reaches
the holy of holiest she is once again reminded:
"Remember, just SEVEN
Unlike the other devotees, Goldie does not prostrate at his feet. She
stands directly in front of him, crosses her arms over her chest, fixes her
gaze on his, and says:
"Sheldon, I'm your mother. Come home...NOW!"
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