Selected Sermon/Article
2009-08-28 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshat Ki Tetze
Beyond Twelve Gates Parshas Ki Seitzei August 28, 2009

Beyond Twelve Gates              Parshas Ki Seitzei                     August 28, 2009


     Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  The Ashanti tribe in Ghana names its children after the day of the week on which they are born.  Those born on Wednesday are Kwaku, which means violent or mean.  In Ghana, over 50% of all the crimes committed are committed by those born on Wednesday.  Is there something genetically unique about Ghanans born on a Wednesday?  


     Sociologists' only explanation is that apparently an expectancy is set up in the minds of parents and society.  Ghanan children born on Wednesday are expected to fail -- and to a stunning degree, they do.  What expectations -- emotionally, academically, spiritually and Jewishly  --  do we have for our children, for our students, and for ourselves?  These days before the High Holidays are a time to raise our expectations.


Parshas Ki Seitzei     Deuteronomy 21:10 - 25:19


This week's Torah portion contains 74 mitzvos (commandments) -- more than 10% of the 613 mitzvos of the Torah.   Among the highlights:


-- Guidelines for treatment of captured female prisoners of war.

-- Treatment of the 'stubborn and rebellious son' (shades of Eddie Haskell!)

-- Prohibition of wearing shatnez -- a mixture of wool and linen in the same garment

-- The case of the defamation of a married woman

-- The requirement of a get (bill of divorce) when divorce takes place

-- The obligation to pay workers in a timely fashion (handymen, babysitters, etc)

-- Special consideration must be given to a widow and orphan


This power-packed Torah portion concludes with the command to remember the atrocities which the nation of Amalek (from whom Haman and Hitler came) committed against us upon our exodus from Egypt.


Rabbinic Ruminations


   This past week saw the government of Scotland release the Libyan agent convicted in the 1988 terrorist bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.  Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, was released only 8 years into a 27 year sentence.  The bombing attack on Pan Am Flight 103 for which Megrahi was convicted took the lives of all 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground.  Yet, Megrahi was allowed to return to his native Libya on 'humanitarian grounds.'   What is the Torah perspective on this controversial issue?


    Mercy and compassion ('rachmanus', in Hebrew) is a pillar of Judaism and a necessary component of our personality.  However, those who are compassionate to the cruel, act with great cruelty to the compassionate.  Terrorists and violent criminals who are released on the grounds of 'compassion' often inflict additional mayhem and violence on new innocent victims.   Additionally, the anguish the victims and their survivors experience in the wake of the 'compassionate release' of the murderer of their dear relative tears open the threads of an emotional wound that has never fully healed


    Misapplied mercy is an injustice, and a form of cruelty. .


Quote of the Week


Anti-Semitism is a noxious weed that should be cut out.  It has no place in America -- William Howard Taft (speech, 1920)



Joke of the Week


Chaim and Yankel were enjoying a long-awaited safari in Africa, when a lion leaped out from cover 200 yards away and began charging in their direction.  Quickly, Chaim slipped off his safari hiking shoes, reached into his backpack, and began to put on his much -lighter running shoes  "Chaim!', Yankel said.  "What in the world are you doing?  You'll never be able to outrun a lion!"   Chaim looked up at Yankel as he tied the laces on his shoes, "Yankel, you're absolutely correct.  But I don't need to be able to outrun a lion.  I only need to be able to .....outrun you!"


Thanks for reading 'Beyond Twelve Gates'.  Comments, questions, requests to be added to our email list or better jokes can be sent to or   Care to know more about Nusach Hari Bnai Zion Congregation?  Check us out at  If you enjoyed Beyond Twelve Gates, please share with a friend. Thanks to Alan Haber for his assistance in distributing BTG