Gates - Rabbi Ze'ev
Parshas Noach October 15, 2010
Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates
I love the story of the high school basketball coach who was
attempting to motivate his players to persevere through a difficult
season. Halfway though the season he stood before his team and said,
"Did Michael Jordan ever quit?" The team responded,
"No!" He yelled, "What about the Wright brothers?
Did they ever give up?" "No!" the team resounded.
"Did Lance Armstrong ever quit?" Again the team yelled,
"No!" "Did Elmer McAllister ever quit?"
There was a long silence. Finally one player was bold enough to ask,
"Who's Elmer McAllister? We never heard of
him." The coach snapped back, "Of course you never heard of him
-- he quit!"
The most important quality for significant accomplishments is
perseverance. Proverbs (12:24) says, "Work hard and become a leader;
be lazy and never succeed." Perseverance overcomes almost
everything, even nature itself. The ability to stay on course
without distraction or diversion enables individuals of moderate capabilities
to attain achievements that elude those with greater potential. Persevere
until you reach your goal.
Parshas Lech Lecha Genesis
12:1 -- 17:27
Abraham was called by G-d to leave his homeland, his father's house, and his
position of status and prosperity to travel to the land that G-d would show
him. Upon arrival with his wife Sarah and nephew Lot in the land of Israel, they discover it to be ravaged
by a horrible famine. Traveling to descend to Egypt for a temporary stay, the
immoral Egyptians immediately capture Sarah and take her to the Egyptian
king. G-d responds by afflicting the king and his household with a
debilitating plague until he releases her. Guess what the plague was?
Back in the land of Israel, Lot parts ways with Abraham, with Lot
relocating to the fertile plains of Sodom.
Abraham subsequently rescues the kidnapped Lot
by miraculously defeating four kings and their armies. Through
a Covenant G-d promises Abraham that his descendants will be as many as the
stars in the sky. Because she had no children, Sarah gives her
maidservant Hagar to Abraham as a wife, and their son Yishmael
is born. At the age of 99, Abraham circumcises himself, his son Yishmael and the other male members of his household.
Do miracles still happen? Ask Ed Rosenthal.
One wrong turn - that's all it took for a hiker to get lost for six agonizing
days. He had no food, no water and had literally just written his dying
words. Ed Rosenthal, a prominent Los Angeles real estate broker, had just
planned to go on a short hike this past September. It was a
three-mile walk that the 64-year old had done many times in Joshua Tree
National Park. What
could go wrong? But one disastrous wrong turn took him deeper and
deeper into the canyons. The more he tried to find the trail, the farther
away he got. Stuck in the searing California heat, he had flares, a walking
stick and little else.
Rosenthal said, "I really wasn't sure I would survive."
So he took out a pen, took off his hat and kept a diary. In the days
that followed, he wrote on his hat what he thought would be his last messages
of love to his wife and daughter. Rosenthal told his wife that if
she ever became sad, to "just think about me and how much I love
you and there is always hope." He also wrote who he wanted as
the pallbearers at his funeral. Rosenthal grew so discouraged that
at one point he decided to recite the Shema Yisrael.
Over six long days he lost 20 pounds and his kidneys began to shut down.
Rosenthal said of his state, "Your mouth turns to, like,
sand." On day six, a miracle happened, when a rescue
helicopter spotted him just in time at the bottom of the river bed
waving his stick. Rosenthal said, "I probably had one
day left. I'm much more religious now," he said in the thick accent
of his native New York.
"I prayed for rain and it rained."
Three important lessons emerge from the story of Ed Rosenthal. Though not
every story has such a good ending, miracles still happen, which is why (in
Rosenthal's poignant words) "there is always hope." Second, one
need not wait until being lost in the desert to consider our priorities in
life and to think about G-d. And finally, right now is a good
time to tell those who are important to us that we love them.
Quote of the Week -- Thomas Cahill, "The Gifts of
We dream Jewish dreams and hope Jewish hopes. Most of our best words, in
fact - new, adventure, surprise, unique, individual,
person, vocation, time, history,
future, freedom, progress, spirit, faith, hope, justice - are the gifts of the
Joke of the Week
A Rabbi dies and goes up to the gates of heaven.
Before he's admitted, the angel in charge has to consult with G-d to see
if the Rabbi deserves a place in heaven. As the Rabbi is waiting, an
Israeli bus driver approaches the gates of heaven. Without a second
thought, the angel who was consulting with G-d let the bus driver
through. The Rabbi points at the bus driver and yells, "Hey! How
come he gets in so quickly? He's a simple bus driver, while I'm a
Rabbi!" The angel explains, "Dear Rabbi, you don't
understand. When you would be giving your sermon during the prayer
services, your whole congregation would fall asleep. When this bus driver
drove towards Tel Aviv, all his passengers would be at the edge of their seats
praying to G-d!"
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Gates, please share with a friend. Thanks to Alan Haber for his assistance in