Selected Sermon/Article
2010-10-22 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Vayera


Beyond Twelve Gates  -  Rabbi Ze'ev Smason
Parshas  Vayera    October 22, 2010


Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates


A boy was sitting by the river fishing.  Along came a wealthy man who watched with amazement as every few minutes the boy would reel in a large fish.  The wealthy man ran over and said, "My son, you have quite a talent there.  I have an idea for you.  Take some of those fish you've caught, invest in another fishing rod, and you can catch twice as many fish."

"What would I do with all those fish, Sir?"
"You could take your profits, buy more fishing rods, and line the bank of this river catching fish!"
"What would I then do with all those fish, Sir?"
"You could then take your profits, buy a boat, and hire other people to fish while you supervise the operation, make more money, and purchase multiple boats, and catch even more fish."
"What would I do with all those fish, Sir?"
"Well," replied the wealthy man, "you could then hire someone to manage your business, retire, and do what you really want in life."

"But Sir," the boy said, "I'm doing that already."

 At times we get so caught up in the details of life and making a living, that we don't stop to ask ourselves what life is about, and to savor the blessings we've been given. "Who is truly wealthy?  The one who is happy with his lot." (Ethics of the Fathers)  We can't do much about the length of our life, but we can certainly affect its length and depth.   Live life to the fullest, and enjoy each day we've been given.  


Parshas Vayeira   Genesis 18:1 -- 21:24

 The parsha begins with Abraham's incredible display of chesed (kindness) to three angels who appear as men.  This, despite his extreme discomfort from his recent bris milah Akeidah, Abraham's tenth and final test, in which he shows his willingness to comply with G-d's command to bring his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice. (circumcision).  The angels declare that Sarah will give birth to her first child at the age of 90 (Abraham himself would be 100).  Later, Abraham pleads to G-d on behalf of the cities of Sodom and Gemorrah.  However, the cities are soon destroyed, but not before the angels save Abraham's nephew Lot and his family from destruction.  Sarah is abducted by Avimelech, the king of Gerar, who did not realize she was married.  G-d responds by striking him with a plague which prevents him from touching her.  Sarah conceives and gives birth to Isaac, and Abraham makes a huge celebration.  Sarah sees Ishmael (Abraham's son from Hagar) as a menace to her own son's spiritual well-being and asks Abraham to expel Ishmael and Hagar.  The Torah portion concludes with the

Rabbinic Ruminations
You've heard of "kissin' cousins."  How about "dissin' cousins"?  Rush Limbaugh calls President Barack Obama "imam," even though he knows the President isn't a Muslim.  Sarah Palin has openly doubted the President's "cojones."  It turns out that these two conservative firebrands and relentless critics of the President have been dissin' their own cousin.




The online genealogy service recently reported that Obama and Palin are 10th cousins, and Obama and Limbaugh are 10th cousins once removed.  In both cases, the ties date to the 1600s.  Obama's distant family ties to former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney surfaced during his presidential campaign.  Obama also is a distant cousin of billionaire investor Warren Buffet and actor Brad Pitt, according to 

If we go back far enough, of course -- to Adam and Eve -- everyone alive is related.  The Talmud raises a fascinating question; why did G-d create us in such a fashion that all humanity descended from one person, rather than from multiple individuals?  Perhaps you've had the experience of discovering and meeting a previously unknown relative.  There exists a natural feeling of warmth and fondness toward those who we recognize as 'family.'  The Torah, by teaching in the account of Creation that all humanity descends from a common ancestor, provides us with the opportunity to identify, feel and act toward others in a way that reflects a recognition of the universal brotherhood of mankind.

Consider how the world would be different if everyone was aware of this important Torah concept.   Maybe Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin should think about having Barack Obama over for Thanksgiving dinner!






Quote of the Week



Life has a way of making the foreseeable that which never happens, and the unforeseeable that which your life becomes.  --  From the film "Appaloosa" (a great Western)

Joke of the Week


Yankel and Solly are passing a Catholic church and see a sign that reads "Convert to Catholicism, $250 Cash."  Yankel turns to his friend Solly and says, "Hey, I'm going to try it."
He enters the church and returns a few minutes later.
"So, did you convert? What was it like?" Solly eagerly asks.
"It was nothing", says Yankel, "I walked in, a priest sprinkled holy water on me, and said "you're a Catholic.'"
"Wow," says Solly "and did you get the $250?"
"You Jews," sneers Yankel, "all you people think about is money!"






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