Selected Sermon/Article
2010-01-29 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Beshalach
Beyond Twelve Gates Parshas Beshalach January 29, 2010

Beyond Twelve Gates     Parshas Beshalach           January 29, 2010


Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  Have you ever wondered what G-d will ask?


G-d won't ask what kind of car you drove, but He WILL ask how many people you drove who didn't have transportation.  G-d won't ask the square footage of your house, but He WILL ask how many people you welcomed into your home.  G-d won't ask about the clothes you had in your closet, but He WILL ask how many you helped to clothe. G-d won't ask what your highest salary was, but He WILL ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.  G-d won't ask what your job title was, but He WILL ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.  G-d won't ask how many friends you had, but He WILL ask how many people to whom you were a friend.  G-d won't ask in what neighborhood you lived, but He WILL ask how you treated your neighbors. G-d won't ask about the color of your skin, but He WILL ask about the content of your character.


Parshas Beshalach  Exodus 13:17 -- 17:16


As the Jewish people leave the land of Egypt, Pharaoh's heart is once again hardened.  The Egyptian army pursues the former slaves, trapping them on the shores of the Red Sea.   Moses raises his hand over the sea, miraculously parting the waters and allowing the Jewish people to pass through safely.  Pursued by the Egyptians into the sea, Moses once again raises his hand and the waters come crashing down upon Pharaoh's army.  Awed by this indisputable miracle, Moses leads the Jewish people in the Shir shel Yam, a song of praise to G-d acknowledging their debt of gratitude for their remarkable salvation.


After traveling from the Red Sea, and following the miraculous sweetening of the bitter waters at Marah, the Jewish people complain to Moses and Aaron that they have no food to eat.  G-d responds by providing a great test of faith;  a daily ration of manna fell from the sky for forty years every morning, except for Shabbos.  Some suggest that the manna was the greatest miracle the Jewish people ever experienced.   A constant water source is also given when G-d commands Moses to strike a rock, miraculously causing water to flow from it.  The portion concludes with the nation of Amalek's unprovoked sneak attack and the Jewish people's victory.


Rabbinic Ruminations


You've heard of having ants in your pants'?   A German man named Hans had significantly greater problems, according to a recent news report.   Hans Kurt Kubus, 58, stuffed 44 small lizards into his underwear before trying to board a flight back to his native Germany.    Kubus was recently sentenced to 14 weeks in prison in New Zealand for plundering the country's protected species, and must pay a $3,500 fine before being deported as soon as he is released.    Kubus was caught by wildlife officials at Christchurch International Airport in December, about to board an overseas flight with 44 geckos and skinks in a hand-sewn package concealed in his underwear.  Hans, you 'Skinker', you!


Honesty, however, is no laughing matter.  A recent USA today poll found that only 56% of Americans teach honesty to their children.  In addition, a Louis Harris poll turned up the regrettable fact that 65% of high school students would cheat on an important exam.   King David said (Psalm 111:10) "The beginning of wisdom is the reverence of G-d, good understanding to all their practitioners...."  Could it be that we are becoming a nation content with taking the ignorant path?  There is substantial reason for us to revitalize the importance of honesty.


Neither we nor most people we know would consider robbing a bank (or, for that matter, smuggling a gecko).  However, there are multiple opportunities presented on a frequent basis to exercise the attribute of emes, or honesty.  Downloading or copying a CD or DVD is inexpensive -- but may be stealing according to both Jewish and secular law.  Taking 'souvenirs' such as towels and washcloths from a hotel is similarly prohibited. Utilizing the computer on company time for social networking, fantasy football and the like also raises the question of cheating one's employer.  To paraphrase the words of Albert Schweitzer, "Honesty has no special time of its own.  Its hour is now -- always."



Quote of the Week


Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power -- Abraham Lincoln


Joke of the Week


A Catholic priest, a Protestant minister, and a rabbi were discussing what they would like people to say at their funeral.  


Priest:   "I would like someone to say  'He was a righteous man who was a devoted spiritual leader to his parishonres." 


Minister:  "I would like someone to say 'He was a G-d fearing man who was a wonderful husband and father.' "  


Rabbi:  "I want someone to say, 'Oh look at that ....he's moving!!' "
(thanks to Chaya Gent for the joke)


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