Beyond Twelve Gates - Parshas Terumah
- February 19, 2010
Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates. Here's a taxing question
for you: Is it OK to cheat on your taxes? In a 2008 survey sponsored by
the IRS Oversight Board, 89% said it is "not at all" acceptable to
cheat even a little. That's the good news. The bad news is that
6% of respondents said it's OK to cheat "a little here and
there," 3% said "as much as possible", and 3% said
"other" (what other answers could there be?!). Assuming
for purposes of discussion that all respondents answered this survey
honestly, the results help to focus our attention on an important topic;
Spencer Johnson once said, "Integrity is telling myself the truth. Honesty is telling the truth to other
people." April 15 isn't the only day of the year we should reflect
upon the importance of honesty. Judaism teaches that emes, or honesty, is the Seal of the Almighty.
Let us strive to act with integrity and honesty 365 days a year.
begins a series of four out of five portions which discuss in detail the
construction of the Mishkan, the traveling
Tabernacle which would serve as a 'resting place' for G-d's
presence amongst the Jewish people. This week's portion recounts G-d's description to Moses of how to construct the Mishkan, beginning with a listing of the various
precious materials to be collected from the Jewish people for this monumental
project. G-d describes the magnificent golden and wooden Ark which
would house the tablets of the Ten Commandments, complete with its dazzling
cover depicting two cherubim (angels with faces of children) facing each
other. Next, G-d provides Moses with the blueprints of the shulchan (holy table) upon which the lechem hapanim
(showbread) would be placed each week. Following the description of the
pure golden menorah which was to be hammered out of one large piece of gold,
G-d describes the structure of the Mishkan
itself. It contained splendidly woven and embroidered covers, curtains
and partitions, and the sturdy outer walls. The Torah portion concludes
with the instructions for the copper altar and the Mishkan's large outer courtyard.
Do you believe in miracles? If you were to ask Lance Cpl.
Andrew Koenig, the answer undoubtedly would be an enthusiastic 'yes.'
The 21 year old Casper, Wyo.
native was kneeling on the roof of his one-story outpost in Afghanistan
this past Monday, looking for insurgent snipers. He was reaching back
to his left for his rifle when a sniper's bullet slammed into his
helmet. The impact knocked the soldier on his back, and he yelled, 'I'm
hit!' His buddy patted down his body, looking for wounds.
Then the friend noticed that the plate that usually secures
night-vision goggles to the front of Lance Cpl. Koenig's helmet was
missing. In its place was a thumb-deep dent in the hard Kevlar
shell. In one eventful moment, the soldier was shot in the head, and
the bullet bounced off him.
Word of Lance Cpl. Koenig's close call spread quickly through
the outpost, as he came to be known as the 'Miracle Marine.' One
consultant working with the Marines was reported to have said, "Lance
Cpl. Koenig is alive for a reason. >From a spiritual point of view,
that doesn't happen by accident."
The Torah perspective is that everything is a miracle; on rare
occasion 'big' miracles such as the splitting of a sea or a well-aimed bullet
not finding its target occur. More often, we observe 'small miracles'
that we've become accustomed to; the rising and setting of the sun, the
conception and birth of a child, and our ability to rise each morning and
walk. The infrequent occasion of a 'big' miracle should give us pause
to appreciate and be thankful for the many small and hidden miracles
with which the Almighty graciously surrounds us and the ones we love.
Quote of the Week
"Don't be so humble -- you're not that great."
-- Golda Meir (1898 - 1978) to a visiting diplomat
Joke of the Week
A meshulach (collector of tzedakah)
knocks on a very wealthy person's door. "Shalom Aleichem, Mr.Goldstein,"
he says. I'm collecting for the Lotsa Gelt Yeshivah, and I'm
wondering if a nice, wealthy Jewish person like yourself
wouldn't want to make a little contribution."
The homeowner replies, "The name is
Gold, not Goldstein, and I am not Jewish."
"Are you sure?" asks the meshulach.
"Sir, I am positive," replies
"But," says the meshulach, "It says right here that
you're Jewish, and my records are never wrong."
"I can assure you that I am
certainly not Jewish," replies the homeowner, getting more impatient.
"Look, Sir, I know that my records
are never wrong. You must be kidding me. Are you SURE you aren't
Jewish?" demands the meshulach.
"For the last time, Sir, I am not
Jewish, my father is not Jewish, and my Zayde,
wasn't Jewish either!"
* grandfather, may he rest in peace