Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates. A reader of Beyond Twelve
Gates told me that she was having problems with the delivery of her local
daily newspaper. The following is the message her paper 'boy' left
regarding the odd times she was receiving the paper: "I
dont dilvery papper in the morr. i do all my papper in the evening"
"Goodness knows," the reader exclaimed, "he's never read
Certainly, there's a degree of arbitrariness about any definition of
illiteracy. Literacy has been traditionally described as the ability to
read and write. However, many feel that literacy is also about culture,
social outlook, and the ability to make informed decisions. What is
'Jewish Literacy?' Perhaps Jewish Literacy can be simply described as
'essential Jewish knowledge.' Are we and our children Jewishly
literate? A worthy goal for this coming year is to increase our
level of Jewish literacy.
Torah Reading for Rosh Hashana
The two days of Rosh Hashana fall out on Thursday, September 9 and Friday
September 10. On Thursday the Torah reading is from Genesis 21:1
-- 21:34. On Friday the Torah reading is from Genesis 22:1 -- 22:24.
The theme of the Thursday Torah reading is that G-d remembered Sarah at the
age of 90. She bore a son named Isaac to her 100 year old husband
Abraham. Our tradition teaches that Sarah conceived on Rosh Hashana.
Not only do we recall Sarah and Abraham's great merit, but we should be
inspired to repent and pray just as they did.
The theme of the Friday Torah reading is the account of the Akeidah,
the Binding of Isaac. Both Abraham and Isaac demonstrated their
willingness to make any sacrifice to comply with G-d's will. Our
tradition teaches that the Akeida took place on Rosh
Hashana. The shofar of Rosh Hashana is customarily made of a ram's horn
to recall the merit of the Akeida because a ram was substituted for
Isaac on the altar.
Parshas Ha'Azinu Deuteronomy 31: 1 -- 52
Ha'Azinu is comprised primarily of Moses' "song" about the horrible
tragedies and supreme joy which will make up the Jewish people's future
history. While not a song in the familiar sense, Moses' song is a blend
of otherwise disparate ideas into a beautiful symphony of thought. It
expresses the idea that everything that G-d does -- past, present and future
-- somehow fits into a perfect harmony, although our limited human
understanding prevents fully recognizing the wisdom of G-d.
Ha'Azinu contains the mitzvah for each Jew to write a Sefer Torah (Torah
scroll). Many suggest that this mitzvah can be fulfilled by the purchase
of books containing Torah content. Does your home contain any books of
Torah? Today there is an abundance of excellent Torah books written in
English. Let me suggest two: The Stone Chumash (5 Books of
Moses), and Living Each Week by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski.
Ha'azinu concludes with G-d's command to Moses to ascend Mount Nebo,
where he will view the land
of Israel and then pass
A little girl was trying to get a turtle out of its shell.
Her uncle told her to take the turtle near a fire and warm him up so
that he would come out by himself. Said her uncle: "We are sort of
like turtles. Never try to force someone into anything. Just warm
them up with a little human kindness, and more than likely they'll come your
Have you ever noticed that if you add the letter 'd' to the word
kin, you have kind? To treat someone kindly is to
treat them as kin. Kindness is an action that flows from kinship.
Rosh Hashana is the day that the first human being was created; 'a birthday
celebration', if you will, for Adam and Eve. Jewish tradition teaches
that the reason why humanity descended from one person rather than multiple
individuals was to create a universal kinship and familial
bond. Rosh Hashana, then, is a day to recognize our
kinship with all humanity. Every person we meet, on some level, is
our relative. That understanding should motivate us to act with
kindness toward all.
Quote of the Week
I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks
-- Daniel Boone
Joke of the Week
In the early years of the State of Israel, nearly the entire Jewish community
of Yemen was airlifted there. Many of the arriving immigrants claimed
tremendous old ages; some of them said they were 140, 150, and even 160 years
old. It seemed hard to believe and it was impossible to substantiate
their claims, for they had brought no accurate birth records with them.
One day, a newly resettled Yemenite Jew appeared in the Tel Aviv office of an
insurance broker saying he wanted to buy a life insurance policy. The
broker looked at the man, saw he was no youngster, and asked him: "How
old are you?"
"Seventy two? That's too old. We can't sell you a life
"That's not fair," the man answered. Last week you sold my
father a policy."
"Your father? How old is he?"
"Go check your records."
The agent checked the records and found to his amazement that the preceding
week the man's 95 year-old father had been issued a policy. The agent came
'You're right. We'll sell you a policy. But you have to come in
on Tuesday for a medical checkup."
"I can't come in on Tuesday."
"My grandfather is getting married."
"Your grandfather is getting married? How old is he?"
"A hundred and seventeen."
"A hundred and seventeen? Why is he getting married?"
"His parents keep pestering him."