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2010-01-22 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Bo
Beyond Twelve Gates Parshas Bo January 22, 2010

Beyond Twelve Gates    Parshas Bo       January 22, 2010


Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  I share with you a sad obituary.


Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years.  He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

 Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
 Why the early bird gets the worm;
 Life isn't always fair; and maybe it was my own fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly with reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual  harassment for kissing a classmate and teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch. His condition worsened upon hearing that a teacher was fired for reprimanding an unruly student.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. He lost his will to live in seeing criminals receive better treatment than their victims. His inevitable decline began after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.


Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife,
Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason. He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.


Parshas Bo   Exodus 10:1 -- 13:16


This week's portion begins with the eighth plague that G-d brings upon the Egyptians as the land is covered by locusts, destroying all the remaining crops. After the plague is removed at Pharaoh's behest, he once again refuses to set free the Jewish people, and the ninth plague of darkness encompasses the land.  When that plague ends, Pharaoh becomes even more defiant about not freeing the slaves, at which point Moses warns Pharaoh about the upcoming tenth plague, the death of the firstborns.  The Torah interrupts the narrative here with the first mitzvah given to the Jewish people as a nation -- the sanctification of Rosh Chodesh (the new month), beginning with the month of Nisan.  G-d teaches Moses about the korban Pesach (Passover offering) and the rest of the laws of the Passover holiday, which Moses transmits to the Jewish people. 


At midnight of the appointed night, the plague strikes, with every non-Jewish first-born dying, including Pharaoh's own son.  Pharaoh awakes, running through the streets (presumably while still in his pajamas) to tell Moses that he now consents to send the Jewish people from his country.   The children of Israel travel forth in a hurry with the great wealth they have just been given by the Egyptians.  The Torah portion concludes with various mitzvos relating to the  Exodus. 


Rabbinic Ruminations


Despite the almost total absence of Israelis or Jews in Haiti, the State of Israel rushed a fully equipped field hospital to the earthquake-ravaged country.  Because of the advanced medical equipment at the IDF field hospital, the UN coordinator has been sending doctors and nurses  from other countries to join the Israeli medical staff. Approximately 300 patients were admitted to the hospital thus far.  92 life-saving surgeries were carried out, and 5 babies were delivered, one of which was the delivery of a 4 pound premature baby.  Perhaps the most poignant incident concerned the Haitian mother whose newborn baby was successfully delivered by an Israeli medical team.  In gratitude, the mother named her new son ‘Israel' in honor of the country that helped her.   

Israel also sent highly trained search and rescue teams and a team of its world famous ZAKA volunteers halfway around the world to offer urgently needed humanitarian aid.   The Israelis have rescued 70 trapped victims.   Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the decision to immediately send a large delegation of doctors, nurses, medics, rescue forces as well as drugs and medical equipment expressed the deep values which have characterized both the Jewish people and the State of Israel throughout history.   We should feel proud of the generous and compassionate Israeli response, and be inspired to be similarly generous and compassionate to those in need.


Quote of the Week


When his wife asked him to change clothes to meet the German Ambassador, Albert Einstein said,  "If they want to see me, here I am. If they want to see my clothes, open my closet and show them my suits."


Joke of the Week


A man was walking through the desert, desperate for water, when he saw something far off in the distance.  Hoping to find water, he walked toward the image, only to find a man sitting at a table with a bunch of neckties laid out.


The man asked, 'Please, I'm dying of thirst. Give me some water."

The vendor replied, "I don't have any water, but why don't you buy a nice tie? Here's one that goes great with your robe."

"I don't want a tie, you idiot! I need water."

"Ok, so don't buy a tie.  But to show you what a nice guy I am, I'll tell you that two miles over that sand dune is a nice restaurant.  They'll give you all the water you need."


The man thanked him and walked away toward the hill.  Three hours later he came crawling back to where the vendor was sitting behind his card table."


"Couldn't you find it?" the vendor said.

"The man rasped, "I found it all right.  But your brother wouldn't let me in without a tie!"


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