Selected Sermon/Article
2010-01-08 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Shemos
Beyond Twelve Gates Parshas Shemos January 8, 2010

Beyond Twelve Gates   Parshas Shemos    January 8, 2010


Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.   Americans who are lucky enough to have work in this economy are becoming more unhappy with their jobs.   A new survey found only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their work. To paraphrase that great philosopher Mick Jagger, 'we can't get no job satisfaction.'   Workers have grown steadily more unhappy over the past several years because incomes haven't kept up with inflation, and the soaring cost of health insurance has eaten into workers' take-home pay.  However, another significant factor identified as a cause for unhappiness is that fewer workers consider their jobs to be interesting.


In lieu of searching for a new job, you may want to consider the following question;  what is it that you actually DO for people throughout the course of your day?  Not your title (e.g. 'salesperson'). Not your profession (e.g. 'engineering').  What benefits or services do your daily professional efforts provide for other people?   What meaning do you give to people's lives that otherwise would not have existed?   Focus on the answer to that question -- and I'm sure your job just became much more interesting!



Parshas Shemos    Exodus 1:1 -- 6:1


The book of Exodus begins by describing the gradually increasing enslavement of the Jewish people in Egypt. It was Pharaoh's plan that the backbreaking labor would stunt their rapid physical growth.  Moses is born, and when his mother is unable to keep him hidden from the Egyptian authorities any longer she places him in a basket and sends him down the Nile River.  He is found by Pharaoh's daughter and raised in the royal palace.  Already a grown man, Moses kills an Egyptian who he witnessed beating a Jew.  Moses flees to the land of Midian and marries Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, and they have two sons.


When Moses is shepherding his father-in-law's flock, G-d appears to him in a burning bush and tells him he will lead the Jewish people from Egypt.  Initially reluctant, Moses is shown three miracles to perform before the Jewish people to prove he was sent by G-d.  Moses, accompanied by his brother Aaron, encounter an obstinate Pharaoh.  The  Egyptian king not only refuses their request for a three-day respite to worship G-d, but even increases the slave's heavy workload.  The portion concludes with the people complaining to Moses and Aaron for making their situation worse.


Rabbinic Ruminations


Are you a beautiful person?  You very well may be, but still not qualified for admission to the elite social networking site  Potential members are only allowed entrance into the community after current members vote on the applicant's beauty.  caused a stir earlier this week after its members voted to oust some 5,000 users from its site for becoming less, well, beautiful.  The dating site, which describes itself as an 'exclusively beautiful community," removed the users for gaining weight over the holidays.


"As a business, we mourn the loss of any member, but the fact remains that our members demand the high standard of beauty be upheld. Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which was founded," Robert Hintze, the community's founder, said. Is this an ...ugly policy?


The Torah appreciates external aesthetics, but places a much greater emphasis upon spiritual beauty.  King Solomon said, "Charm is deceptive and beauty is naught; a G-d revering woman is the one to be praised (Proverbs)"  External beauty may capture our attention, but sterling character traits, a pleasant disposition and a  beautiful neshama (soul) have the potential to capture our heart.


Quote of the Week


If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten -- Tony Robbins


Joke of the Week


The gabbai came to shul one early Shabbos morning to find a man sprawled across 3 entire seats in shul.   "Sorry sir," the gabbai said, "you're only allowed one seat."   The man groaned but didn't budge.  The gabbai said, "Sir, if you don't get up, I'm going to have to call over the rabbi."  Again, the man just groaned, so the frustrated gabbai summoned the rabbi. Together the two of them tried to move him but with no success. Finally, they had the police called.  The cop surveyed the situation and then asked, "all right buddy, what's your name?"   "Sam, " the man moaned.  "Where ya from, Sam?"  With pain in his voice, Sam replied, "The balcony."


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