Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates. If you can't trust the
Oxford English Dictionary (OED), who can you trust? In print since
1860, the OED claims the title of the 'definitive record of the
English language.' An Australian physicist, however, wasn't intimidated
by the OED's lofty reputation. University of Queensland
academic Dr. Stephen Hughes discovered a schoolboy error in the dictionary
that stood uncorrected for almost a
century. Entries for the word siphon incorrectly
said that atmospheric pressure
is the force that allows the device to move liquids from one place to
another. Not so! It is gravity that pushes liquid through a
siphon tube, not atmospheric pressure. Even I knew that -- sort of.
Dr. Hughes said, "An extensive check of online and
offline dictionaries did not reveal a single dictionary that correctly
referred to gravity being the operative force in a siphon." The
intrepid Dr. Hughes emailed the OED's editors, who promptly
acknowledged the error with a promise to revise the definition of siphon
in the dictionary's next edition. Albert Einstein once said, "The
important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own
reason for existing." The Jewish way is to
respectfully challenge conventional wisdom, and to never be
afraid of asking questions.
Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11
Moses continues his final speech to the Children of Israel (the
rabbis always talk about the 'Children of Israel' -- where were all
the adults?). He tells them how he entreated G-d to allow him to
enter the land
of Israel, but his
request was denied. Moses was allowed, however, to seethe
Promised Land from the peak
of Mount Pisgah.
Moses appeals to the people to keep the Torah and its
commandments, neither adding to nor subtracting from its mitzvos. They are told to always remember the
incredible Revelation they experienced at Mt. Sinai
(the mountain, not the hospital) where every man, woman and child heard
the presentation of the Ten Commandments. Moses repeats
the Ten Commandments, with subtle differences between this version and
the one found in the Book of Exodus. Did you ever
wonder where the Shema comes
from? It is found in this week's Torah portion. The Shema expresses our belief that
G-d is one and states our commitment to love and serve Him. It exhorts
us to transmit Torah to the next generation, and its laws should be
remembered by a 'sign' upon ones hand and forehead (tefillin)
and written on the doorposts of one's home (mezuzah).
Finally, Moses encourages the people to trust in G-d and remain
faithful to the Torah. Intermarriage is prohibited, and the source that
Jewish identity is transmitted through the mother is stated.
Ladies: Were you born before 1979? You may already be over the
hill, at least if you believe a new QVC poll. The poll says
that a woman hits her confidence and beauty peak at age 31, according to
the British National newspaper the Daily Mail. In the
survey, 70% of the more than 2,000 men and women said that confidence ranked
as the most important trait in making a woman attractive, followed by
physical beauty (67%) and good style (47%).
Don't worry, though.
There's no need to go slip inside the cryo-chamber.
There's nothing ordinary about a woman, no
matter who she is or how old she is. What is it that makes a woman
beautiful? Is it her smile, her physique, her elegance, or her sense of
The Torah highlights the beauty
of many women such as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Esther. Physical
beauty is not to be ignored, or hidden behind a burka.
However, physical beauty alone obscures and diminishes a woman's
essence. "Like a golden ring in the snout of a swine," says Proverbs, "is a beautiful woman who lacks
good sense." In the famous Woman of Valor hymn, King Solomon
writes, "Charm is false and beauty is futile; a G-d revering woman-she
is to be praised." Beauty is futile when it is only a
veneer, or a sole focus. But if a woman lives her life with
spiritual purpose and reveres G-d, then she, together
with her physical beauty and charm, is to be praised as a
truly beautiful woman.
Quote of the Week
I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis, and I don't
deserve that either -- Jack Benny
Joke of the Week
Yankel came home from day camp without his
towel. "Where is your towel?" asked his mother. "I
don't know," he sighed. "I couldn't find it after
swimming. Maybe someone took it."
Mrs. Greenberg was irate. "Who could have taken
your towel? It was a great towel! Yankel,
you would never take someone else's towel. You know I raised you
differently than that, right?"
A few moments later, she was on the phone with the day camp
"Hello. This is Mrs. Greenberg. There
is a young thief in your camp."
"My son had a towel stolen from camp!" He
brought it with him today, but couldn't find it to
"Please calm down, Mrs. Greenberg," came the voice on
the line. "I'm sure that no one stole your son's
towel. Can you describe it to me?"
"Sure I can! It was white and big. You couldn't
miss it. And printed on the front, in big green letters, were the
words. 'Holiday Inn'!"