Selected Sermon/Article
2010-08-20 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Ki Seitzei


Beyond Twelve Gates  -  Rabbi Ze'ev Smason
Parshas  Ki Seitzei   August 20, 2010

This week's edition of Beyond Twelve Gates is sponsored by:


You're So Sweet - the Chocolate Boutique

Yehuda and Chaya (Gent) Albert


Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  Looking for love in all the wrong places?  Jon Heminghaus thinks he's looking in the exact right place: the windshield of a car.  Windshields across Southern Illinois have been papered with a flier advertising Hemminghaus, 47, who is seeking a mate.  "WANTED," the flier reads in big, bold red letters.  "A woman who can put up with this man."  A photograph of the West Frankfort, Illinois native is on the "wanted poster", as is the promise of a $500 reward for the person who finds Hemminghaus his one true love -- or at least six dates with him.  The unusual approach to finding happiness came after Hemminghaus decided he was lonely.  "After six (dates), I'll know whether she can put up with me.....and they'll get their money.  I'm a man of my word ain't no fun being alone." 
Jon Hemminghaus is onto something.   The Torah (Genesis 2:18) tells us, "It is not good for Man to be alone. I will create a helper that is best for him."  The union of man and woman is necessary to fulfill each person's individual and combined potential.  But is marriage, alone, a guarantee of future happiness?  Marriages are successful when two people enter a marriage knowing that they have to worry about the 'We', rather than the 'Me.' Selflessness, rather than selfishness, is a key to happiness in life and avoiding the pain of loneliness.
Parshas Ki Seitzei     Deuteronomy 21:10 - 25:19
This week's Torah portion contains 74 commandments -- more than 10% of the 613 mitzvos of the Torah.   Among the highlights:
-- Guidelines for treatment of captured female prisoners of war.
-- Treatment of the 'stubborn and rebellious son'
-- Prohibition of wearing shatnez -- a mixture of wool and linen in the same garment
-- A four-cornered garment must have twisted threads (tzitzis) on its corners
-- The case of the defamation of a married woman
-- The requirement of a get (bill of divorce) when divorce takes place
-- When Israel goes to war, the camp must be governed by rules of spiritual purity
-- The obligation to pay workers in a timely fashion (handymen, babysitters, etc)
-- Because of their vulnerability, converts, orphans and widows have special rights of     protection
This power-packed Torah portion concludes with the command to remember the atrocities which the nation of Amalek (from whom Haman and Hitler came) committed against us upon our exodus from Egypt.
Rabbinic Ruminations

What baseball team has the most loyal fans?  Some suggest that an unusual modern statistic can be used to quantify fan loyalty and passion: the sales of custom team logo caskets, urns and burial vaults.  In 2008, a Michigan-based company called Eternal Image began selling caskets for $3500, which come complete with mini bats for handles, and urns bearing Major League Baseball team logos for $799.  And while there may be no Cubs-Cardinals pennant race in 2010, the two teams are neck and neck for the lead in National League casket sales.  Why do fans want to take their team allegiances with them into the grave?  "This is for the die-hard-fans - excuse the pun," said Hal Wilkes, director of the vault company which distributes MLB caskets and urns. "This is the ultimate final purchase for a passionate baseball fan.  People are more loyal to their sports teams than they are to their spouses. It's a second religion - it's sports worship.  It's eternal optimism."
A Cardinals or Cubs-themed casket may or may not reflect 'eternal optimism.'  However, there is no doubt that Judaism is an optimistic religion. While our history is filled with exiles, pogroms and persecution, it is also rich with triumph, victory and redemption. As a people, we have exhibited extraordinary hope throughout our many exiles; we have clung to our faith despite our suffering.
This ability to persevere, to see hope amidst despair, is reflected in the awe-inspiring holiday of Yom Kippur.  While Yom Kippur is dedicated to intense introspection and repentance, it is also a day of great joy. 
We stand before G-d -- while fearful and pleading to be in inscribed in the Book of Life -- with the knowledge that Jewish history is neither meaningless or random, and that our Father in heaven loves us.  That is the source of our people's eternal optimism. 

Quote of the Week
If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions -- Abba Eban 

Joke of the Week
Let's hear it for English!
There may be those among you who support including Spanish as our national language. I for one am 110% against this!  We must preserve the exclusivity and above all, the purity of the English language.

To all the shlemiels, shlemazels, nebbishes, nudniks, klutzes, shlubs, shmoes, and nogoodniks  that are out there pushing Spanish, I just want to say that I, for one, believe that English and only English deserves linguistic prominence in American culture.  To tell the truth, it makes me so farklempt, I'm fit to platz. This whole Spanish schmeer gets me broyges, specially when I hear these erstwhile mavens and luftmenschen kvetching about needing to learn Spanish.  What chutzpah!

These shmegeges can tout their shlock about the cultural and linguistic diversity of our country, but I, for one, am not buying their shtick. Why do they have to hoch me a chinek about this?  It's all so much mishegas, as far as I'm concerned.  I exhort you all to be mentcshenabout this and stand up to their fardrayte arguments and meshuggah, farshtunkene assertions.  It wouldn't be kosher to do anything else.   Remember, when all is said and done, we have English and they've got bubkes! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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