Selected Sermon/Article
2010-06-04 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Shelach


Beyond Twelve Gates  -  Rabbi Ze'ev Smason
Parshas Shelach  --  June 4, 2010



This week's edition of Beyond Twelve Gates is sponsored in honor of Nina Levine and Joey Mufson


Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  How well do you listen to others?  The story is told about Carl Rogers, renowned psychotherapist, that a client attended a series of sessions where neither of them spoke a word.  Instead the two sat in Dr. Rogers' office looking at each other without exchanging a single word (Carl Rogers therapeutic approach was allowing the client to initiate all conversation).  At the end of her last session the woman's first and last words to Dr. Rogers were, "Thank you Dr. Rogers, you are the first person who ever really listened to me." 


Listening is different than hearing. Listening is about the other person and taking a sincere interest in what they have to say.  When you listen well, you show respect and honor to the one speaking.  It demonstrates that what you think they're saying is important.  The importance of good listening can't be overstated; one of our great rabbis said, "All my days I grew up among the Sages and did not find anything better for ones person than silence." (Ethics of the Fathers).    It has been said that the first duty of love is to listen.  If we truly love others, then we'll make a deliberate effort to improve how we listen. 



 Parshas Shelach     Numbers 13:1 - 15:41 
Moses is pressed by the Jewish people to send twelve spies to the Land of Canaan (later to be called the Land of Israel).  Forty days later they return carrying a gigantic cluster of grapes and two other large fruits.  Have you seen the Israeli tourism symbol of two men carrying a huge cluster of grapes?  Now you know where it came from. Ten of the spies warn the Jewish people that the inhabitants of the land are enormous in size, and that the land 'consumes its inhabitants'.  They convince the people that the land can't be conquered.  Caleb and Joshua retain their faith in G-d, insisting that the Jewish people can, indeed, conquer the land.
    The people weep and proclaim that they'd rather return to Egypt. This tenth expression of a profound lack of faith in G-d prompts a Divine decree that entry into the Land should be delayed forty years.  Do you know what day this decree was made?  It was on the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av -- known as Tisha B'Av.   Numerous other tragedies occurred on Tisha B'Av, including the destruction of the first and second Temples and the expulsion of Spanish Jewry in 1492.  From this Biblical incident, the day of Tisha B'Av was set aside as a Jewish national day of mourning.   We look forward to the time when it will be transformed into a day of rejoicing.
 Parshas Shelach concludes with the command to places fringes (tzitzis) on the corners of a four-corned garment.  Tzitzis help us to remember to fulfill all of the Divine commandments.  This reminds me of the story of the rabbi who asked his synagogue's Board of Directors if they would supply him with a new talis once every six months.  They told him, "We're sorry, Rabbi.  We can't afford the fringe benefits." 
Rabbinic Ruminations
So you want to get something unique for that special someone's birthday. You've decided that you have to have the actual 1972 Ferrari Spyder 365 GTS 4 that Don Johnson drove in Miami Vice.  You've had it tracked down to Lisbon, Portugal.  The owner is reluctant to sell, but $5 million settles it, and the car is shipped back to Rome for the big day.  But hold on: You also need a bottle of rare vintage wine and a picnic basket of cherries from Patagonia.  In your new Ferrari, you plan to drive to the Amalfi coast for a picnic, and then on to Naples where a hired jet will take you both to London for the opening night of La Bete at the Palladium.
Enough daydreaming -- except that it's not.  All of this really can be organized by Quintessentially ( ), a London-based global lifestyle management team.  Located in 25 cities around the world, the Q team is ready to fulfill nearly any request you (and more importantly, your checking account) can muster.  There are three levels of membership: general, dedicated and elite. The latter pay around $45,000 a year, for which they get a 'fixer' at the end of the phone any time of day or night anywhere in the world.
American industrialist  J.Paul Getty was one of the world's first billionaires.  When asked, "How much is enough?", Getty smiled and said, "a little bit more."  These words echo a sentiment that rules the life of many.  There are many who are much less wealthy than the billionaires who can never seem to get enough.  From the Torah perspective, however, happiness is within the grasp of all:  Who is truly wealthy? The one who is happy with his lot. (Ethics of the Fathers). Counting our blessings -- even if we don't own a Ferrari -- is the key to a satisfied mind.
Quote of the Week
Every form of refuge has its price -- The Eagles
Joke of the Week
Rhoda and Myron, a retired couple living in Boca Raton, are getting ready to go out to dinner.
Rhoda says, "Myron, darling, do you want me to wear this Chanel suit or the Gucci?"
Myron says, "Honey, I don't really care."
A few minutes later Rhoda says, "Myron, should I wear my Cartier watch or my Rolex?"
Myron says, "Honey, I don't really care."
A few more minutes pass and Rhoda says, "Myron, love, shall I wear my five-carat pear diamond ring or my six-carat round diamond ring with the baguettes?"
Myron says, 'Rhoda, I really don't care what you wear, but if you don't hurry we're going to miss the Early Bird Special.


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