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2010-02-19 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Terumah
Beyond Twelve Gates - Rabbi Ze'ev Smason

Beyond Twelve Gates -  Rabbi Ze'ev Smason

Parshas Terumah

February 19, 2010



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; honesty. 


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.


Parshas Terumah  Exodus 25:1-27:19


Parshas Terumah 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. 


Rabbinic Ruminations


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 the homeowner.

"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, alav hashalom*, wasn't Jewish either!"


* grandfather, may he rest in peace


Thanks for reading 'Beyond Twelve Gates'.


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