This edition of Beyond Twelve Gates
sponsored in honor of the 25th wedding anniversary of Bob and Joni
Kaiser. Mazel Tov!
Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates. Albert Einstein
once said, "If you want to have a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to
people or things." From the age of 25, John Rheinberger has had a
fascinating goal; to visit every country in the world. Rheinberger, an
Oklahoma lawyer who is now 61, has
a passport that boast stamps from 192 countries including Iraq,
Afghanistan and North Korea.
By his count, only three remain - Libya,
Cuba and Somalia.
The attorney, who is single, sees travel as an investment. "My
return may not be in dollars," Rheinberger said, "but it will
be in experiences of life." He estimates that his travels will consume
more than a year and a half of his life and about $200,000. He has already
spent $192,000. He figures anyone starting today would need about
$400,000. Rheinberger said, " There's a point in life where
you think about your own future and where you are in life. When you are old
and gray and you are looking back, you want to at least have something."
of Our Fathers teaches, "The day is short, the work is abundant ... it
is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, yet you are not free to
desist from it." Happiness in life is tied to having
goals. When we're old and gray, what is it that wehope
to have achieved?
Beha'aloscha Numbers 8:1 - 12:16
Beha'aloscha (Hebrew for "when you
step up") is thematically diverse, beginning with the daily
lighting of the golden menorah in the Mishkan. The Levites are
initiated into the Tabernacle service. The Torah then
describes the celebration of Passover in the second year in the desert,
complete with the bringing of the Korban Pesach (Passover
offering). Some men could not bring the offering due to ritual impurity,
and were thus commanded to celebrate Pesach Sheni, a 'make-up
Passover' a month later. Lesson: second chances are
available. Additionally, the standard procedure by which the Jewish
people would break camp to travel in the desert is described.
after leaving Mt. Sinai, the people begin to kvetch (to
complain and grumble incessantly, as in the title of the classic novel 'Kvetcher
in the Rye').
Spurred by the mixed multitude of insincere converts who joined the Jewish
people upon leaving Egypt,
the complaining is directed toward the manna, their daily miraculous portion
of heavenly bread. G-d sends a massive flock of quail which the people gather
to eat; those who had complained about the lack of food overstuff
themselves and die during this supernatural event. The portion
concludes with Miriam speaking loshon hara (defamatory words) to
Aaron about their brother Moses. She is punished by G-d with tzaraas
(a skin condition indicating a spiritual deficiency) and is
quarantined outside the camp for seven days.
term Renaissance Man is used to describe a person who is well
educated or who excels in a number of subjects or fields. The idea
developed in Renaissance Italy from the notion that a man can 'do all things
if he will.' It considers man empowered, limitless in his capacities
for development, and led to the notion that people should embrace all
knowledge and develop their capacities as fully as possible.
Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, was considered a
Renaissance man par excellence. He was a philosopher, author, lawyer, architect, musician, naturalist, botanist, inventor,
engineer, statesman, diplomat,
and political theorist. At a dinner honoring Nobel laureates, John
F. Kennedy famously said, "I think this is the
most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever
been gathered together in the White
House-with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined
become a Renaissance man a Jewish goal?
week's Torah portion, the golden menorah (candelabra) of seven lamps is
described. Curiously, the wicks of the six outer lamps faced
toward the seventh center lamp. The six outer lamps represent the
six essential fields of scholarship and of knowledge; medicine, physics,
mathematics, art, psychology and sociology. Our world is filled with
flames for us to understand and use. However, unless this information is
focused and directed toward the center lamp -- symbolizing G-d, Torah and
spirituality -- then the wisdom of the world is relatively meaningless.
We should indeed strive to become a Renaissance man (or woman), but
commit to use the knowledge we aquire in service of the higher
purpose of becoming ethical human beings, and to become better Jews.
Quote of the Week
After 5000 years of recorded human history, you wonder, what
part of 2,000,000 sunrises doesn't a pessimist understand? --
Robert Brault (American poet)
of the Week
A Texas rancher was visiting a farmer in Israel. The
proud Israeli showed him around. "Here is where I grow tomatoes,
cucumbers, and squash. Over there I built a play set for my kids, next to the
doghouse," the farmer said.
land was tiny, and the Texan was surprised by its small size. "Is
this all your land?" he asked.
the Israeli said proudly. "This is all mine!"
mean this is it? This is all of it?" the Texan said incredulously.
yes, this is really all mine!"
son," said the Texan, "back home I'd get in my car before the
sun'd come up and I'd drive and drive and drive, and when the sun set, why,
I'd only be halfway across my land."
yes," replied the Israeli farmer wistfully, "I used to have a car
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