Welcome to Beyond Twelve
friend and reader, 'Angie', shared a story about her substitute
assignment at a private high school. The lesson plan in
the Classic Literature class included reading aloud from J.D.
Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye." The novel is truly a
classic; it was included on Time's 2005 list of the 100 best English-language
novels written since 1923, and it was named by Modern Library and
its readers as one of the 100 best English language novels of the
20th century. However, the novel's protagonist and antihero,
Holden Caulfield, swears steadily throughout the book.
Angie told me that she
took a polite but firm stand regarding a repeated profanity of G-d's name. Students in the class
respected the teacher's request to skip over the word and keep on
reading. Angie noted that "in a public school setting, I
could probably be fired for standing up for G-d. But I know there had
to be students who also disliked the content but felt too scared to say
Angie's story about her
teaching assignment is a wonderful one. It brings to mind the
classic Jewish teaching (expressed in Ethics of Our Fathers) that
states, "In a place where there is no person, strive to be a
person." Standing up for truth is rarely easy -- but it's
always the right thing to do. In the bigger picture of life, we never
lose when we do the right thing.
Torah Reading for Sukkos
The Torah readings for the first two days of Sukkos
and Shabbos reflect central themes of the
holiday of Sukkos. On both Thursday and
Friday (September 23 & 24) the Torah reading is from Leviticus 22:26 --
23: 44. On Shabbos the Torah reading is from
Exodus 33:12 -- 34:26. The readings include
descriptions of the featured mitzvos of the
holiday. During Sukkos we dwell in a 'Sukkah' -- a booth or hut whose roof is made of
detached tree branches and other natural material. As the weather
begins to turn cooler, we leave the comfort of the indoors for our Sukkah. In it we joyously reflect upon what we
achieved over the course of the High Holidays and renew our commitment to
spirituality and a G-d centered life.
The Torah readings also
describe the 4 Species (Arba Minim)
used on Sukkos: The palm branch (lulav), citron (esrog),
myrtle branches (hadassim), and willow
branches (aravos). A well known
concept is that the 4 Species represent distinct personality types:
1) The edible and fragrant esrog symbolizes one who is both Torah-learned
2) the lulav, which bears sweet dates but
totally lacks fragrance, represents one who is learned but lacking in good
3) the fragrant but inedible hadas symbolizes
one who excels in good deeds but is unlearned, and
4) the aravasymbolizes a simple person,
lacking both Torah knowledge and good deeds.
By binding these species together and holding them at one time, we express
the unity of all Jews.
Albert Einstein once said,
"Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you
must keep moving." Philippe Croizon, a
42 year old Frenchman, is a man on the move.
past weekend Croizon, whose arms and legs were
amputated, swam across the English Channel
using leg prostheses that have flippers attached. The Frenchman had
expected the tough crossing to take up to 24 hours - and instead, he finished
in only 13 and a half. "I did it, I'm happy, I'm so happy, I can't
believe it, it's crazy," he told France-Info radio, sounding giddy on
arrival late Saturday. Croizon's specially
designed leg prostheses, which end in flippers, allow him to propel himself
through the water. His truncated upper arms go through the motions of
the crawl, and he breathes through a snorkel. Croizon
made headlines in 2007 for parachuting from an airplane. He wrote a
book about his experiences called "J'ai decide de vivre" (I decided to live.)
In the face of difficulties,
human beings possess a great character trait that allows them to
meet all challenges; resilience. Resilience is found in those who
refuse to succumb to hardship. Those with resilience enjoy
a foundation of strength and character, enabling them to rise
to any occasion.
The Book of Proverbs says that
the righteous man falls seven times, but then arises. The difference
between the righteous and others is not that the
righteous never stumble. At various times in life,
we all experience tragedy and adversity; everyone errs and commits
mistakes. Nevertheless, the righteous get up while others
remain down. They don't throw in the towel saying, "What's the
use? G-d is unfair. Life is unfair. I give up."
Man never made any material as
resilient as the human spirit.
Quote of the Week
The problem with doing nothing
is that you never know when you're through. That's why it's so easy to keep
on doing nothing -- Wilt Chamberlain
Joke of the Week
A little old Jewish lady is
flying out of New York City on her way to Miami Beach. She looks
at the businessman sitting next to her and asks him, "Excuse me sir, but
are you Jewish?"
The man responds politely, "No, ma'am, I'm not Jewish."
After a little while she again queries him, "You're really Jewish,
Again he responds, "No ma'am, I am not Jewish."
Barely 10 minutes later, the little old lady asks him once more, "Are
you sure you're not Jewish?"
To which in exasperation, and in a final effort to get her to leave him
alone, he replies, "Okay. Yes, ma'am, I am Jewish."
"Funny," she says, looking puzzled, "you don't look