Selected Sermon/Article
2010-03-12 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Vayakhel/Pekudei


Beyond Twelve Gates -  Rabbi Ze'ev Smason

Parshas  Vayakhel/Pekudei  -- March 12, 2010



Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.  Do you believe that Somebody is out there listening?   A recent study indicates that most Americans believe that G-d is not only listening, but is involved in their everyday lives and concerned with their personal well-being.  The study, published in the March issue of the journal Sociology of Religion, offers some fascinating highlights.  82 percent of participants reported that they depend on G-d for help and guidance in making decisions.  71 percent said they believe when good or bad things happen, these occurrences are simply part of G-d's plan for them. 


The basic Jewish understanding of G-d is that He is not only our Creator, but our Sustainer and Supervisor as well.   Albert Einstein once said, "Coincidence is G-d's way of remaining anonymous."  Our traditional sources express the idea that each single blade of grass grows with Divine Supervision.  Perhaps we should think twice the next time we consider using the words 'luck', 'chance' and 'coincidence'.



Parshas Vayakhel--Pekudei   Exodus 35:1 -- 40:38


This week we read the final portion of Exodus, a book which began with the Jewish people enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt and now ends with the completion of the construction of the Mishkan in the desert.  Exodus is known as 'the Book of Redemption'; redemption was achieved not only through our escape from slavery, but also through receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai which gave purpose to that freedom.  The climax of that salvation was when G-d rested His presence amongst the Jewish nation when the Mishkan was completed.


Parshas Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1 -- 38:20) begins with Moses assembling the entire nation of Israel to transmit the details of the construction and fabrication of the Mishkan as described in the three previous Torah portions. However, Moses first cautions them about the fundamental mitzvah to observe Shabbat.  The nation is reminded that although the construction of the Mishkan is of transcendent importance, it does not take precedence over the weekly observance of Shabbat.   The portion describes that the Jewish people came forward with their generous contributions for the Mishkan's construction, producing a surplus of supplies.  The craftsmen are selected and the building begins.


Parshas Pekudei (Exodus 38:21 -- 40:38) begins with a complete accounting of the gold, silver and copper contributed by the people for use in the Mishkan.   Following Moses' inspection and approval of the many utensils and unassembled parts, Moses sets up the Mishkan on Rosh Chodesh Nissan as each part is anointed and arranged in its proper location.  And as G-d promised, His glory fills the Mishkan.


Rabbinic Ruminations


"The people of this city and region have been so good to me and my family that we just felt strongly about doing something to protect the city we have come to love so much."

Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers) teaches that "good character is a prerequisite to Torah."  The many 'stories' found in the book of Genesis come to emphasize the importance of moral and ethical conduct as a necessary foundation for mitzvah observance.  Fertilizer can produce a beautiful flower, or a giant weed. It all depends upon the raw material -- and quality of character -- that we begin with.



Quote of the Week


A dream doesn't become a reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work -- Colin Powell




Joke of the Week

 Shmuelik was a little slow.  In fact, Shmuelik was just plain dumb in most people's opinion.  Some of the boys would play a joke on Shmuelik.  They would show him a nickel and a dime and offer him a choice of one of the two coins.  Shmuelik, being the dummy that he was, would always pick the nickel. 


One day kindly Mrs. Goldfarb who had heard about Shmuelik decided to see if he was really as dumb as everyone said he was.  She took a dime and a nickel from her purse and offered them to him.  Shmuelik picked up the nickel and said, "The nickel is bigger and shinier, and it has a picture of a building on the back, which I think is really neat, so I'll take the nickel."


Mrs. Goldfarb said, "Poor boy, don't you know that a dime is worth more than a nickel?"  "Well of course I know that," Shmuelik answered.  "Well then, why do you always choose the nickel?"


"Because," Shmuelik responded, "if I ever chose the dime, people would stop giving me nickels."





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