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2010-03-05 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Ki Sisa


Beyond Twelve Gates -  Rabbi Ze'ev Smason

Parshas Ki Sisa  -- March 5, 2010



Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  Can you tell the temperature of a tub of water just by looking at it?  Unless it's hot enough to give off steam or cold enough to freeze, you probably can't.  Can you tell how warm or cool a room is by seeing it through a pane of glass?  Probably not.  Looking inside ourselves, we can become aware that our most powerful motivators often can't be 'seen' from the outside.  Love, hate, passion, greed, fear, desire, lust, compassion, charity, goodness -- all the emotions that set us in motion tend to be invisible.


A limitation in our ability to assess others is that we can only see the 'act', and not the 'person.'  A limited view of a person's background, thoughts and feelings makes it near-impossible to accurately judge people.  Following the direction of 'Judge every person in a favorable, meritorious light' (Ethics of the Fathers) is a path to wisdom, harmonious living, and peace of mind.



Parshas Ki Sisa  Exodus 30:11 -- 34:35


The portion begins with G-d's command to Moses to take a census by collecting an equal contribution of a half-shekel coin from every adult male between the ages of 20 and 60, with the profits going to the Mishkan (Tabernacle).  G-d designates Betzalel, of the tribe of Judah, and Oholiav, of the tribe of Dan, to supervise the upcoming construction of the Mishkan.  The mitzvah of Shabbat is then repeated to caution the nation that even the construction of the Mishkan does not supersede the observance of the weekly day of rest.


The Torah returns to the narrative of the Revelation at Mt. Sinai and describes the horrible sin of the golden calf.  G-d relents to Moses' prayer that the Children of Israel should be spared from annihilation for this great transgression, and Moses descends from the mountain with the two tablets of the Ten Commandments in hand.  Upon witnessing a segment of the population dancing around the golden calf, Moses smashes the tablets and burns the idol, initiating the process of repentance.  Moses again ascends the mountain to pray to G-d that the Jewish people should be forgiven and regain their status as the chosen people.  Moses eventually returns with the second set of tablets and a renewed covenant with G-d, his face radiant as a result of the Divine experience



Rabbinic Ruminations


Celebrities aren't the only ones giving their babies unusual names.   Compared with decades ago, parents are choosing less common names for their kids. Study researcher Jean Twenge of San Diego State University, and author of "The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement" sees the uptick of unusual baby names as a sign of change in our culture from one that applauded fitting in, to today's emphasis on being unique and standing out. When taken too far, however, this individualism could lead both to narcissism and unanticipated difficulties for one's child.


Imagine being named Reef or Shaqueesha and then walking into an interview for a bank manager job. Even with an impressive resume it will be an uphill battle to have anyone take you seriously.  Someone remarked that he has two friends named Rolin Tobacco (his parents thought the name was hilarious) and the other named Martini. Both hate their names because no one takes them seriously. They have had interviewers ask them if they were trying to be funny or if this was "some kind of joke" after looking over their resume in job interviews.  A list of other unusual names:

Chino (after the prison)
Sambucus (latin Genus for sumac (a plant))


One of the great challenges of parenting is making decisions that are in the best interests of our children, rather than what pleases or satisfies ourselves.  Rabbi Simcha Wasserman, z'l, would often say, "the generation gap is caused by 'my son the doctor.' "Seeking vicarious fulfillment through our children for our own unfulfilled, frustrated desires is a recipe for disaster. Good parenting requires that we constantly adhere to the principle expressed by King Solomon: "Educate a child according to HIS (or her) way."  When we focus on what is best for our children, many of the typical child-rearing obstacles will be removed, or become more easily manageable.


Quote of the Week


Some people like the Jews, and some do not.  But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are beyond question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world -- Winston Churchill



Joke of the Week


It was a sweltering August day when the Greenberg brothers entered the offices of the anti-Semitic car-maker, Henry Ford.  "Mr. Ford," announced Hyman Greenberg, eldest of the three, "we have a remarkable invention that will revolutionize the auto industry."  Norman Greenberg, the middle brother, said, "We'd like to demonstrate it to you in person."  The four stepped outside, and the youngest brother, Maxwell Greenberg, proceeded to demonstrate on a sweltering day how an interior air conditioning unit in a black Edsel could make a broiling car quite comfortable.


Negotiations began, with the Greenberg brothers asking for $1 million, and the name 'Greenberg Brothers Air Conditioning' stamped right next to the Ford logo.  "Money is no problem," responded Ford, "but no way will I have a 'Jew-name' next to my logo on my cars!" They haggled for a while, and settled on a final agreement. The Greenberg brothers were paid $1.5 million, and on every Ford vehicle, clearly appearing on the a/c control panel, you'll see three names clearly defined:  HI -- NORM -- MAX






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