Selected Sermon/Article
2010-10-01 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Shemini Atzeres-Simchas Torah- Berashis
Editor's note:

Editor's note:
  Please see our information at the bottom of this page about Rabbi Smason's "Rabbi-Ride-Around at Forest Park, St. Louis Sunday, October 17, 2010"



Beyond Twelve Gates  -  Rabbi Ze'ev Smason
Shemini Atzeres-Simchas Torah- Berashis    October 1, 2010



Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates. 

Have you noticed that some common consumer goods are incredibly expensive?  Still, for some unknown reason people continue to shell out big bucks for certain items.  For example, microwave popcorn runs about $3 per box at the grocery store, and each box includes three 3.5 ounce bags.  So why do consumers even think of paying a whopping $6 for a single medium-sized bag of popcorn in the movie theater?  After considering that movie theaters purchase popcorn in bulk, the average markup of movie theater popcorn is an astounding 1275%. 
Many are aware that "Evian" is "naive" spelled backwards.  The well-known company probably did not choose their name for that reason - but an argument can be made that consumers who buy bottled water are certainly naive.  After all, water is one of the most abundant resources in the world and is available for free from countless water fountains and sinks across the nation.  Yet, many consumers are still willing to pay $3 a bottle for it.
On the other hand, if you're looking for a great deal, I have a suggestion;  the Torah.  A well known Jewish saying states; "tova Torah mi-kol schora," or, "Torah is the best merchandise."   Simchas Torah literally means "Rejoicing in the Torah."  This week's holiday of Simchas Torah marks the completion of the yearly cycle of the Torah reading.  The pathways of the Torah are pleasant, peaceful and spiritually nourishing. This time of year is an opportunity to appreciate the gift of Torah --the best "purchase" a Jew can make.
Torah Reading for Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah

Shemini Atzeres is a two-day holiday immediately following the seventh day of Sukkos.  It begins on Thursday.  Simchas Torah is celebrated on Friday, the second day of Shemini Atzeres. The Torah reading for the first day is Deuteronomy 14:22 -- 16:17.
Shemini Atzeres is a holiday in its own right.  'Shemini Atzeres' literally means 'Stop (on)
the Eighth Day'.   Benjamin Franklin once said, 'fish and visitors smell in three days'.  The Almighty, however, has a different perspective!   G-d, who has had us as 'visitors' for Sukkos, asks us to stay with Him for an eighth day.  Seeing our loved ones leave is difficult; so too, G-d loves His children and desires that we spend one more day with Him in festive celebration.
On Simchas Torah we read the final Torah portion, V'zos Ha'Bracha (Deuteronomy 33:1 -- 34:12).   We then proceed immediately to the first chapter of Genesis, reminding us that the Torah is a circle which never ends.  The completion of the Torah is a time of great celebration. There are processions around the synagogue carrying Torah scrolls, with plenty of high-spirited singing and dancing.
Parshas Bereishis   Genesis 1:1 -- 6:8
This first portion of the Torah begins with G-d's creation of the world in six days and His 'resting' on the seventh.   Some suggest that an allusion to baseball can be found in the Torah's first verse -- In the Big Inning (Beginning).  All was created during this first week;  from the separation between light and darkness, to the establishment of the sun, moon and stars, to the creation of Man (Adam) and Woman (Eve) in G-d's image and their placement in the Garden of Eden.
Adam and Eve are given one command -- to refrain from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.  Eve is enticed by the snake to eat of the forbidden fruit, and she offers some to her husband as well. G-d punishes them for their transgression, and they are banished from the paradise of Eden.
After the expulsion their first two sons, Cain and Abel, each bring an offering to G-d.  In jealousy Cain kills his brother, and G-d sends him into exile to wander the face of the earth.. The Torah then gives a genealogy of the first ten generations of the world, beginning with Adam and leading up to the birth of Noah and his three sons.
Rabbinic Ruminations
Hetty Green was an American businesswoman who died in 1916.  She left behind an estimated net worth ranging from $100 million to $200 million ($2 - $4 billion in current dollars), at the time making her the richest woman in the world.  Hetty also left behind a legacy of frugality to the extreme; her lifestyle earned her a listing in the Guinness Book of World Recordsas the "greatest miser" -- and one of the meanest.
Her miserly lifestyle included living on cold oatmeal so she wouldn't have to pay for the heat.  She wore one old black dress and undergarments that she changed only after they had been worn out.  One tale claims that she instructed her laundress to wash only the dirtiest parts of her dresses (the hems) to save money on soap.  Her son Ned broke his leg as a child, and Hetty tried to have him admitted in a free clinic for the poor.  Ned was forced to have his leg amputated because she refused to pay for an operation to save it.  In her old age she began to suffer from a bad hernia but refused to have an operation because it cost $150.  The cause of her death was a convulsion prompted by an argument about the virtues of skim milk.
Hetty Green was rich but lived an impoverished life.  Although she lived, there was no life in her living.
The holidays of Sukkos, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah are times of great happiness; however, happiness isn't a possession we search for.  Rather, it's a blessing present in everything we experience.  'Things' can't make us happy.  Counting the blessings we do have is the key to true happiness. 
Quote of the Week
There is a place in the world for anyone who says, "I'll take care of it."  -- Harvey MacKay
Joke of the Week

Three cadets were to be interviewed at the Police Academy.  "Men," said the Lieutenant, "we're going to go through a little exercise to test your potential for detective work. I'm going to show you a picture of a criminal for precisely twenty seconds, and I want you to tell me, simply by glancing at the picture, what type of crook we're looking for.  Jones, take a look. What do you think?"
"Sir! I think this guy has only one ear."
"No, no, Jones! This is a profile. It only shows one side. What do you say, Burns?"
"Sir! This perpetrator only has one eye."
"No, Burns. Don't you understand? This is only a profile. Forget about it!"
About to give up, the Lieutenant showed the picture to the third cadet. "What do you say, Jackson?"
Without looking for more than five seconds, Jackson blurted out with confidence, "Boss! This outlaw wears contact lenses!"
"That's right, Jackson! You're incredible! How did you know that?"
"It's simple, Chief!  With one ear and one eye, how in the world can the guy wear glasses?"


Rabbi-Ride-Around at  Forest Park, St. Louis Sunday, October 17, 2010


Rabbi Ze'ev Smason (author of Beyond Twelve Gates) will attempt to repeat last year's feat of riding his bicycle 50 miles around Forest Park.  By sponsoring the ride, per mile, you have an opportunity to express appreciation for the weekly Beyond Twelve Gates that you receive, contribute to Nusach Hari Bnai Zion's educational AND give encouragement and support to Rabbi Smason as he circles (and circles, and circles..) Forest Park.  Please consider a sponsorship of at least $1.00 per mile.


The ride will begin at 10:00 am, with a picnic for all at 12:30 pm.  Email your pledges to:   After the event, checks can be mailed to:  NHBZ, 8630 Olive St., St. Louis, MO  63132




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