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2010-06-11 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Korach


Beyond Twelve Gates  -  Rabbi Ze'ev Smason
Parshas Korach  --  June 11, 2010



Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was on the verge of baseball immortality.  A rare perfect game was within his grasp.  Galarraga retired the first 26 batters that he faced last Wednesday, and appeared to have the 27th out until umpire Jim Joyce mistakenly signaled the runner safe.  A chorus of boos and groans echoed in Comica Park, and Joyce admitted he missed the call.  Galarraga, however, handled the gaffe with monumental grace and class. He didn't whine.  He didn't lobby.  He didn't hold a grudge.  He summed up the history taken from him with a phrase many say but few understand.  "Nobody's perfect," he said.  English author William Hazlitt once said, "Grace is the absence of everything that indicates pain or difficulty, hesitation or incongruity."  Armando Galarraga will be remembered not as one of 21 with perfect games -- but as the one who had a perfect reaction.  How do you respond to disappointment?



Parshas Korach       Numbers 16:1 - 18:32


This week's Torah portion begins with the infamous rebellion led by Korach against his cousins, Moses and Aaron, claiming that the two of them had usurped power from the rest of the Jewish people.  Korach, motivated by jealousy and a desire for honor, rejected Moses' authority and claimed that the appointment of Aaron as Kohen Gadol (Head Cohen) was motivated by nepotism.  Korach cleverly persuaded 250 judges and others from disaffected groups to become his followers in the rebellion. 


A frequent theme in the Torah is:  Sooner or later G-d always gets the last word.  In Korach's case, it was sooner.  What was the result of the rebellion?   G-d made the earth open up to swallow Korach, the ringleaders of the rebellion, and their families.  Fire consumed the rest of the 250 rebels.   The story of Korach's rebellion concludes with an act of reconciliation -- and surprisingly, a reference to Rahm Emanuel.   The staffs of the leaders of the 12 tribes were placed near the Ark of the Covenant.  To prove that the tribe of Levi and Aaron was divinely chosen, Aaron's staff sprouted leaves, almond blossoms and even almonds.  I suppose you could say that this miracle made Aaron ....Chief of Staff!


Rabbinic Ruminations

Joshua Bell emerged from the subway train and positioned himself against a wall beside a trash basket.  He was nondescript -- a young man in jeans, long-sleeved T-shirt, and a Washington Nationals baseball cap.   From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money and began to play.  For the next 45 minutes in the D.C. Metro station, Bell played Mozart and Schubert as more than 1,000 people streamed by, most hardly taking notice.  If they had, they might have noticed his instrument was a rare Stradivarius worth more than $3 million.  Bell's 'performance' was part of a project by the Washington Post that the editors called "an experiment in context ...and priorities...In a banal setting, at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?"  


Only three days earlier, Bell had sold out Boston's Symphony Hall, with ordinary seats going for $100.  In the subway, Bell collected about $32 from the 27 people who stopped long enough to drop in a donation. What can we learn from this story?


There's a difference between being busy and being hurried. Being busy is an outward reality, whereas being hurried is an inner state of being.  Being busy suggests purpose and productivity. Hurried implies a condition of being rushed, distracted and preoccupied.  The Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch) states that upon seeing exceptionally beautiful people, trees or fields one recites the blessing of, "You, G-d, the Source of all blessings, has created such in His universe."   When you're busy, it's possible to notice a master violinist playing on the street.  When you're hurried, chances are you'll be too preoccupied to notice the beauty of G-d's world.  As we go through a typical day in our lives, are we busy, or are we hurried?


 Quote of the Week


If you go to the Middle East looking for oil, you don't need to stop in Israel.
But if you go looking for brains, energy and integrity, it is the only stop." -- Warren Buffet



Joke of the Week


Three Texans are standing in an elevator.  Two are tall men wearing cowboy boots and 10 gallon hats. The third is an older Jewish man wearing a yarmulke, short pants, and high black socks with sandals. The first Texan says, "My name is Buck.  I own 250,000 acres.  I have 10,000 head of cattle and they call my place "Paradise Prairie Ranch."

The second Texan says, "My name is Clint.  I own 350,000 acres.  I have 15,000 head of cattle and they call my place "Millionaire Acres Ranch."

They both look down at the Jewish man who says, "My name is Irving and I own 300 acres." Buck looks down at him and say, "300 Acres?  What do you raise?" "Nothing", Irving says.

"Well then, what do you call it?", asks Clint.  Irving says,  "Downtown Dallas."




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