Beyond Twelve Gates - Rabbi Ze'ev Smason
November 12, 2010
Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.
This past Sunday more than 40,000 runners participated in the New York City
Marathon. Edison Pena finished more than three and a half hours behind
the champion. Yet Pena, one of 33 Chilean miners entombed in a
collapsed mine for 69 days, won the hearts of spectators with an
inspiring effort. Pena, 34, trained during his confinement,
running each morning and afternoon
in steel-tipped electrician's boots that he cut down to ankle-high shoes.
He ran back and forth along a 1,000-yard path inside the mine. Marathon
organizers who learned of Pena's subterranean exercise routine had invited him
to come to New York
to watch the race. They were shocked when he asked to run instead.
While running through the dark, hot passageways of the mine,
Pena said, "I thought, I was going to beat destiny. I was saying to that
mine, 'I can outrun you.' I am going to run till you're tired and bored of me,
and I did it. The message here is, I found a way
to run. I didn't say, 'I can't.'"
The road to success is littered with many tempting parking
places. When life says, "Give up," whisper back -- as
Edison Pena did -- "I'm going to try
it one more time."
Parshas Vayeitzei Genesis 28:10 -- 32:3
Jacob escapes from his wicked brother Esau and travels to Charan, where he will stay with his uncle Laban. While spending the night at the future site of
the Temple, G-d
appears to Jacob in a dream. Rich in symbolism and meaning, the
dream depicts a ladder extending from heaven to earth upon which
angels are ascending and descending. After arriving in Charan, Jacob meets Laban's
daughter Rachel and agrees to work for Laban for
seven years for her hand in marriage. When the wedding night finally
arrives, Laban deceives Jacob by substituting his
older daughter Leah in Rachel's place. After waiting a week, Jacob
marries Rachel also, but not without being forced to commit to another seven
years of labor.
Over the next few years Rachel remains barren, while Leah
gives birth to six sons and a daughter, and Bilhah
and Zilpah (the maidservants of Rachel and
Leah respectively) each have two sons with Jacob. Finally Rachel
also has a son, Joseph. Jacob becomes very wealthy during his twenty-year
stay with Laban, even though his father-in-law
continually tries to swindle him. After seeking counsel with his wives, Jacob
and his family flee from Laban, who pursues and
confronts him, upset that he left without saying goodbye and arrogantly
claiming that Jacob stole his idols. Eventually they sign a peace treaty
and part ways.
The story is told of a rabbi who accepted a position in a
new town. Some weeks after he arrived he had an occasion to ride the
bus. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally
given him too much change. As he considered what to do, he thought to
himself, "You'd better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep
it." Then he thought, "Oh, forget it, it's only a quarter. Who
would worry about this small amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much
fare; they'll never miss it. Accept it as a 'gift from G-d' and keep
quiet." When his stop came, the rabbi paused momentarily at the
door, handed the quarter to the driver and said, "Here, you gave me too
The driver, with a smile, replied, "Aren't you the new rabbi in
town?" "Yes," the rabbi replied.
"Well, I've been thinking recently about going to synagogue. I just
wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I'll see
you in shul on Shabbos."
When the rabbi stepped off the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light
pole, held on, and said, "Oh, Rebono
Shel Olam (Master of
the Universe), I almost sold a Jew for a quarter."
There are important lessons to be learned from this
story. First, while the Torah contains 613 commandments, one
accurate indicator of true religiosity is honesty. Many great people
have stumbled due to temptations surrounding money. Second, to
the extent we are identified by others as being Jewish, we wear
the name of G-d. Jews and non-Jews alike observe us, and view
us as representatives of Judaism and of G-d, Himself. So, be
careful when you're driving or waiting in line at the store; G-d is watching .....and so are many others.
Quote of the Week
It's not the high price of stardom that bothers me.
It's the high price of mediocrity -- Bill Veeck, late Major League Baseball owner
Joke of the Week
Mendel Kravitz, eighty-four years old, was hit by a car and lay bleeding
on the sidewalk. A policeman arrived on the scene and, glancing at the
victim, immediately called for an ambulance and a priest.
The priest arrived first, and bending over Kravitz, he asked, "Do you believe in the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost?"
Kravitz lifted up his head, opened
his eyes wide, and turned to the crowd that had gathered round him.
"I'm laying here dying and he's asking me riddles!"
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Gates, please share with a friend. Thanks to Alan Haber for his assistance in