|Beyond Twelve Gates-Acharei-Kedoshim II|
|Written by Rabbi Ze'ev Smason|
A postcard mailed from Chicago recently reached Scott McMurry. No news there -- except that the postcard depicting Shedd Aquarium was mailed in 1958. McMurry's mother mailed the postcard to an address in Decatur, Ga., where the McMurry family grew up. Somehow the postcard arrived in Elizabeth Fulcher's mailbox in South Daytona, Fla. Fulcher posted a picture of the postcard on Facebook and her friends helped track down Scott McMurry, now living in Virginia. The 71-year-old says he immediately recognized his mother's handwriting. The half-century mail delay remains a mystery. In the meantime, the aquarium has offered to give McMurry a tour of the attraction that his late parents visited.
Earlier is better than later, but better late than never. Have you been to Israel yet? Whether you're young, middle-aged or old (at what point does someone become old?), a trip to Israel should be on every Jew's 'bucket list.' The Talmud tells us, "Avira d'Eretz Yisrael machkim" -- the very air of Israel brings wisdom. The special qualities of Israel will spiritually invigorate you, and you'll return home inspired and changed. Visit Israel -- better late than never.
Parshas Acharei /Kedoshim Leviticus 16:1 - 20:27
Ten years ago last week NASA received the final communication from one of the most influential and invaluable space probes ever launched by humankind: Pioneer 10. Carrying an explicit message from humanity to extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter the craft, the Pioneer Plaque, affixed to Pioneer 10, was created by astroscientists Carl Sagan and Frank Drake. The aluminum plaque shows the nude figures of a human male and female, and also gives easily decodable directions back to planet Earth. The directions are in the form of a pulsar map.
Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars which emit beams of radiation. The Pioneer Plaque pulsar map looks like an erratic burst of lines radiating from a central point. The center represents our sun, while each line represents the scale distance between our local star and one of 14 selected pulsars. The lines are binary (base-2) numeral strings denoting the unique period of each pulsar, so that aliens can know exactly which regularly radiating celestial object we’re using as a sign post.
Unfortunately, despite the extraordinary intellects working on the Pioneer Plaque, the listed period of one of the pulsars is wrong. A math error that crept into the design, making it possible that little green men could take a gigantic cosmic wrong turn in search of our sun. For those of us who make occasional math errors when balancing our checkbook, it’s nice to know that even the best pros are fallible! In various places the Torah describes mistakes made by the greatest of our ancestors. It takes courage and self-confidence to admit making mistakes. View the entire process of learning from mistakes as a course in gaining more wisdom.
Quote of the Week
One needs something to believe in, something for which one can have whole-hearted enthusiasm. One needs to feel that one's life has meaning, that one is needed in this world. -- Hannah Senesh
Joke of the Week
An atheist found himself in the woods when suddenly he heard some loud rustling of leaves. He looked over his shoulder and was stunned to see a huge bear. The atheist started running, but soon the bear was towering over him with a paw raised as if he was going to swat him. However, just at that moment an incredibly bright light appeared, and a booming voice called out to the atheist, saying: