Selected Sermon/Article
2010-12-03 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Mikeitz
Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates

Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates

Last month, South New Jersey was host to a heated battle between two struggling teams.  When the game was finally over, Sterling High coach Jarod Claybourn had to decide what to do with a game ball from his program's first win in two years.  In a choice that testified to Coach Claybourn's class, he gave the ball to the other coach. Sterling High entered having lost 17 straight games.  The losing team, Gateway High, saw its own losing streak pushed to 17 games.
Jarod Claybourn said that there was no reason why his team deserved to win any more than its opponent.  "They just ran out of time. They deserved to win that game as much as we did, if not more."  Claybourn indicated his decision to give up the game ball was a reflection of his own personal experience.  While struggling through week after week of losses, it was sometimes hard to find positive signs to build on.  Gaining the respect of an opponent is one of those signs, and handing over the winning game ball, he said, was the best way to support and encourage an opponent.  About the game ball he received, Gateway coach Mike Carp said, "Classiest thing I've ever seen on a football field."
Goethe said, "Behavior is a mirror in which every one displays his own image."  Treating others with respect and dignity reflects a belief that all human beings are created in the image of G-d.

Parshas Mikeitz   Genesis 41:1 -- 44:17
Pharaoh has a two-part dream about seven scrawny cows devouring seven robust cows, followed by seven thin stalks of grain swallowing seven healthy, good ones.  When his advisers are unable to adequately interpret the dream, Pharaoh summons Joseph, who had been in prison for a total of twelve years.   Ascribing his power of interpretation solely to G-d, Joseph tells Pharaoh that Egypt will first experience seven years of abundant crops, and then will be ravaged by a devastating famine.  Pharaoh appoints Joseph as viceroy of Egypt, making him the second most powerful man in the land (this is a source within the Torah for tennis  -- we see that Joseph served in Pharaoh's court!).  Joseph's wife Asnat gives birth to two sons, Menashe and Ephraim, and the years of plenty and famine unfold just as Joseph had predicted. 
With the famine also devastating the land of Canaan (Israel), Joseph's brothers descend to Egypt to purchase food.  When they don't recognize their royal brother, Joseph sets in motion a plan to determine if the brothers have fully repented for their sin of selling him almost twenty-two years before.   Joseph acts detached, accusing them of being spies, and holds Simeon 

hostage.  Joseph then allows the rest of the brothers to go with food to their father on the condition that they return with their youngest brother Benjamin.  With great reluctance, Jacob agrees to this condition.  Mikeitz concludes with the looming threat that Benjamin will be made a slave to the Egyptian ruler. 


Rabbinic Ruminations

 Got gelt? Though many people are accustomed to giving presents on Chanukah, playing dreidel for money ( gelt) is an old spin (pun intended) on a traditional Chanukah experience.  Dreidels find their way into Jewish homes of all levels of observance both in Israel and the world over.  What connection is there between Chanukah and money?
The Hebrew word Chanukah shares the same root as  chinuch, education. The occupying Greek forces wanted to make the Jewish population forget the Torah and its way of life.  After the defeat of the Greeks, it was necessary to re-educate a large segment of the Jewish people -- particularly the children.  Maimonidies writes that it is important to use incentives to educate children until they are old enough to independently appreciate the beauty and importance of living a Jewishly committed life.   On Chanukah, the holiday which is dedicated to education, we give our children Chanukah gelt to add to the festive spirit of the holiday, and to encourage them in the study of Torah and observance of the mitzvos.

Chanukah gelt can be given any time throughout Chanukah (aside from Shabbos). Some have the admirable custom of gelt-giving each weeknight of Chanukah.   This year, as our dreidels spin, may we all remember the spiritual values of Chanukah: the primacy of living a committed Jewish life, and the small miracles that constantly surround us. 

Quote of the Week
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same G-d who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use -- Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

Joke of the Week
Chaim sought medical aid because he had bulging eyes and ringing in the ears.  A doctor looked him over and suggested removal of the tonsils.  The operation resulted in no improvement, so the patient consulted another doctor who suggested removal of his teeth.  The teeth were extracted but still Chaim's eyes bulged and the ringing in his ears continued.
A third doctor told him bluntly, "You've got six months to live."  In that event, the doomed man decided he'd treat himself right while he could.  He bought a fancy car, a chauffeur, had the best tailor in town make him 30 suits, and decided even his shirts would be made-to-order.
"Okay," said the shirt maker, "let's get your measurement.  Hmm, 34 sleeve, 16 collar -- "
"Fifteen," Chaim said.
"Sixteen collar," the shirt maker repeated, measuring again.
"But I've always worn a 15 collar," said Chaim.
"Listen," the shirt maker said, "I'm warning you. You keep wearing a 15 collar and your eyes will bulge and you'll have ringing in your ears."


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