Welcome to Beyond Twelve
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
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.
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
"Sir! This perpetrator only has one eye."
"No, Burns. Don't you understand? This is only a profile. Forget about
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?"