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2010-02-26 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Tetzaveh
Beyond Twelve Gates - Rabbi Ze'ev Smason

Beyond Twelve Gates -  Rabbi Ze'ev Smason

Parshas Tetzaveh  -- February 26, 2010



Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  This coming Saturday night/ Sunday is the holiday of Purim.  Purim is arguably the most joyous holiday on the Jewish calendar. I often say that if one would have only two days a year to attend synagogue, Purim and Simchas Torah should be your choices.   If I can assist you in observing Purim in any way, please let me know.  Purim is celebrated in the following 4 ways:


1)  Megilla: On Purim we read the Book of Esther, which recalls the attempt of evil Haman (boo!) to wipe out the Jews of Persia


2) Mishloach Manos: We send food gifts to friends and relatives least two ready-to-eat foods in each package, delivered by a proxy. The joy of the day increases as we send and receive


3) Matanos L'Evyonim:  We don't forget those with least 2 gifts of money and/or food to the poor on Purim day


4) Mishteh:  The merry, merry meal on Purim day easy mitzva to fulfill


Purim represents the height of joy.  Here are 7 different levels of joy.


Your metabolism changes so that you can lose weight eating chocolate

You realize that your kid's report card was really a bad dream

Your computer actually crashes when the technician is there

Warren Buffet calls your boss looking for you

You haven't put on weight -- your clothes shrank

Your child calls from college just to say hi

The IRS loses your name



Parshas Tetzaveh   Exodus 27:20 -- 30:10


This week's portion is a haberdasher's dream.  Following on the heels of the elaborate details of the construction of the Mishkan, G-d describes to Moses the special garments which are to be worn by the Kohanim during their service.  The ordinary Kohanim would wear four special garments, while four additional vestments were to be worn exclusively by the Kohen Gadol (High Priest).  All of these garments were woven and crafted from materials donated by the people.


The Torah portion then shifts its attention to G-d's commandments regarding the inaugaration ritual for the newly constructed Mishkan, to be performed exclusively by Moses for seven days.   The inaugaration included Moses' adorning and anointing the Kohanim, and his bringing offerings.  On the eighth day, Aaron and his sons would assume their offices as the Kohanim.  After then describing the daily offering, the offering to be brought in the Mishkan every day of the year in the morning and afternoon, the portion concludes with the command to build the last of the Mishkan's structures, the golden altar upon which the incense would be offered every morning and afternoon.


On the Shabbos before PurimParshas Zachor  (Deut. 25: 17-19) is read immediately following the regular Torah reading.  It is a positive commandment to erase the memory of Amalek and to always remember their evil deeds, and how they ambushed the Jewish people.  Our tradition teaches that Haman (of the Purim story) was a descendant of Amalek; thus, the connection of Parshas Zachor to Purim.



Rabbinic Ruminations


Is it better to believe everything, or to believe nothing?  Rabbi Nachman of Breslov said that if we had to make a choice between being credulous or universally skeptical, it would be better to be credulous.  If one believes everything, even that which is false and foolish, then he will also believe the truth, and that will save him.  One who cynically scoffs at everything will deny even the truth.


The very first verse of Psalms warns us against associating with scoffers. Hopefully, we can believe intelligently.  But if we have to err, then it is better to err on the side of believing too much rather than denying too much.  As the Talmud says, "It is better to be called a fool all my life, rather than to be wicked for a single moment before G-d."  (adapted from 'Living Each Day', Rabbi Abraham Twerski, M.D.)



Quote of the Week


One of the nice things about problems is that a good many of them do not exist -- Steve Allen



Joke of the Week


Yankel and Chaim were on their way to a vaction in Hawaii, and got into an argument about the correct pronunciation of Hawaii.  Yankel was sure it was 'Hawaii', but Chaim maintained that it was 'Havaii.'  To resolve the dispute, they decided to ask the first native they came across after their plane landed.    Shortly after picking up their bags in the airport,  they approached a tall, brown-skinned man.  Yankel and Chaim said, 'Good afternoon, Sir. We're tourists from Brooklyn, New York. My name is Yankel, and my friend's name is Chaim."  

"Welcome to the Islands," the man said.   "My name is Kamakaʻeha Waiwaiʻole."

Excited to meet a native, Chaim blurted out, "Would you mind telling us the name of your state?'

"Havaii!  the man replied.

"Thanks" answered Chaim.

"You've Velcome," said the native.


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