Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates. What can $14,750 buy you in modern
Not a Tiffany diamond or a mini-sedan, say Robert Zhou and Daisy Chao.
But for that price, they guarantee you something more lasting, with
unquestioned future benefits: a U.S. passport and citizenship for
your new baby. Zhou and Chao, a husband and wife from Taiwan who now live in Shanghai,
run one of China's oldest
and most successful consultancies helping well-heeled expectant Chinese
mothers travel to the United
States to give birth. American law
says anyone born on U.S.
soil has the right to citizenship.
The proliferation of U.S.
baby services shows that for many Chinese, a U.S. passport remains a
powerful lure. The reasons they want American passports for their
babies are varied, but most come down to two key factors -- education and
setting. As a U.S.
citizen, a child has access to free public education from primary school
through high school. Additionally, a full education in the United States
can be much cheaper than at top Chinese private schools and universities.
To quote a Chinese proverb, "When eating bamboo
sprouts, remember the one who planted them." Some born in the United States
may take citizenship for granted. But if through the blessing of Divine
Providence one is a U.S.
citizen, we should have an "attitude of
gratitude." Let us thank G-d for our multiple blessings --
including that as free citizens in a land
Parshas Eikev --
Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25
Moses continues to encourage the Children of Israel to trust in G-d and in
the prosperity and health which will follow if they keep the Torah. If
they are careful to observe even those 'minor' mitzvos
that are usually 'trampled' underfoot, he promises that they will be the most
blessed of the nations of the Earth. Moses reminds them of their
numerous transgressions in the desert, including the mystifying sin of the
Golden Calf. Moses describes the bountiful Land of Israel
filled with wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates, a land of
oil-yielding olives and date-honey. He teaches the people the second
paragraph of the Shemawhich stresses the
fundamental doctrine of reward for keeping the mitzvos
and the consequences of non-compliance. All that G-d requires of
us, Moses says, is to love G-d, revere Him, and to observe His Torah.
Easier said than done! Parshas Eikev concludes with the promise that G-d will provide
the Jewish people with protection if they observe the laws of the Torah.
Many are familiar with the famous phrase (found in this week's portion),
"Man does not live by bread alone." But do you know
what the second half of the verse states? It says, "...... but by all that comes from the mouth
of G-d." This important idea teaches that physical
nourishment and external pleasures aren't sufficient for a satisfied
life. Every human being has spiritual needs that must also be met.
Do you treasure every moment? The importance of appreciating the moment
is reflected in a verse from Proverbs (17:24) "Wisdom lies before an
understanding person, but a fool's eyes are directed to the ends of the earth."
Could there be a growing realization even today that life is
more than a series of transactions-even from a credit card brand? A
recent Australian MasterCard campaign reflects an attitude fostered by the
global economic downturn: a turn away from compulsive consumption and a focus
on appreciating the value of "the moment," and specifically the time
that goes into making that moment special. A 30-second commercial shows
how a small rock is formed over eons, from its origins in a volcano to
being skipped over water by a dad and his son. Says the voiceover: "Not
knowing how much goes into a moment? Priceless."
It's been said that we don't know the true value of a moment
until it becomes a memory. The value of a moment was poignantly described in
the book Real Moments by a 70 year old patient in an Intensive Care
First I was dying to finish high school, then I
was dying to finish college and start working. And then I was
dying to marry and have children. Then I was dying for my children to
grow old enough for school so I could return to work. Then I was dying
to retire. And now, I am dying ...and suddenly, I realize I forgot to
To return to the verse from Proverbs; A fool concentrates on the end
and goal ('to the ends of the earth'), whereas the wise person
thinks of the here and now, enjoying the process and the moment ('wisdom
lies before an understanding person').
Every penny counts. So does every moment.
Quote of the Week
In my house, I'm the boss. My wife is just the decision maker -- Woody
Joke of the Week
Tony decides to join a monastic order that requires him to spend the first 20
years of training in complete silence. The head monk tells him that he
is only allowed to say two words every three years.
After 3 years of keeping his vow Tony is summoned before the head monk and
asked if he has anything to say, in two words or less. He says,
"Food stinks." "Well, thank you for your
input," says the head monk. "We always like to know what's on
the mind of our novices." Three more years go by, and Tony
is again summoned before the head monk. "Well, do you have
anything to say now?," he is asked.
"Bed hard," is Tony's answer.
"Well, thank you for your response. It's good to know what our
novices are thinking." After three more years the head monk finds
Tony and asks him if he has anything to say. "I quit!" he says.
not surprised," says the head monk. "You've done nothing but
complain since you got here!"