Selected Sermon/Article
2010-10-15 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Noach


Beyond Twelve Gates  -  Rabbi Ze'ev Smason
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.
Rabbinic Ruminations 


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 the Jews"


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 Jews




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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