Selected Sermon/Article
2011-02-04 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Terumah Exodus 25:1-27:19

Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates. 

Interested in having a star named after you?  For $54, you can have a 12 x 16 inch certificate from the Illinois company International Star Registry (ISR), claiming that a star has been named for you or a loved one. You will receive a booklet with charts of the constellations, along with a large detailed star chart with "Your" star circled in red.

Interesting in becoming a star?  In the Book of Daniel (12:3) it says, "...and those who teach righteousness to the multitudes (will shine) like the stars, forever and ever."  It is quite possible that the illumination we see from a star is the energy of a star that burned out a long time ago.  Yet, its effect continues far beyond its physical life.  So too, the effect that parents and teachers have on their children and students is eternal.  Reach to become a star by teaching righteousness and ethical behavior to others.  The fruits of your labors will truly live on forever as shining examples of your work.

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 from 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 instructions for the copper altar and the Mishkan's large outer courtyard.

Rabbinic Ruminations

How much is self-respect worth?  If your name is Gil Meche, it's worth at least $12 million.  Meche, a 32-year-old pitcher for the Kansas City Royals, had a contract that called for a $12 million guaranteed salary in 2011.  However, because of a chronically injured pitching shoulder, Meche decided to forfeit his paycheck rather than take money he didn't feel he would earn.

“When I signed my contract, my main goal was to earn it,” the Royals pitcher said.  “Once I started to realize I wasn’t earning my money, I felt bad.  I was making a crazy amount of money for not even pitching.  Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved it.  I didn’t want to have those feelings again.”   Meche’s decision plays against type -- the modern athlete out for every last dollar. 

It's been said that self-respect is a matter of recognizing that anything worth having has a price.  A spiritually sensitive individual understands that such a price may involve not taking handouts.  The book of Proverbs (15:27) teaches, "A greedy person corrupts his house, but one who disdains gifts will live."  Our first instinct should be to decline anything we don't earn -- out of a concern for self-sufficiency, self-respect, and an awareness that with hard work G-d will provide enough for our needs.

Quote of the Week

Most things I worry about never happen anyway -- Tom Petty (American Rock 'n' Roll Singer)

Joke of the Week

Alvin is working in his store when he hears a booming voice from above: “Alvin, sell your business.”  He ignores it.  It goes on for days.  “Alvin, sell your business for $3 million.”  After weeks of this, he relents and sells his store.  The voice says ‘Alvin, take the $3 million to Las Vegas."  Alvin obeys.  The voice says, “Alvin, go to a casino, find a  blackjack table and put it down all on one hand.”  He hesitates but knows he must.  He’s dealt an 18.  The dealer has a six showing.  “Alvin, take a card.”  What? The dealer has — “Take a card!”   He tells the dealer to hit him.  Alvin gets an ace. Nineteen. He breathes easy.  “Alvin, take another card.” What? “TAKE ANOTHER CARD!”  He asks for another card. It’s another ace.  He has twenty. “Alvin, take another card,” the voice commands.  "I have twenty!" Alvin shouts. “TAKE ANOTHER CARD!!” booms the voice. "Hit me," Alvin says. He gets a two. Twenty two.  Busted.

The booming voice says, “You've got to be kidding.”
We are a community at Nusach Hari B'nai Zion, dedicated to outreach and to the inclusion of all Jews. As such we strongly encourage you to be a part of our social media presence. Along with email, Facebook and Twitter are the new "word of mouth." If you are already a member of either one, please join us there. In addition, it's essential that you encourage your family and friends to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. The more people who join us as a part of our social media conversation, the more people we have an opportunity to reach.

To join us on Facebook go to and click the "Like" button.
To follow us on Twitter go to and click "Follow."
To follow Rabbi Smason go to click "Follow." =============================================================
Everything Jewish in St. Louis - including Rabbi Smason's column, community events, news, commentary and features for Jews of all ages - can be found on our community website, This website is a service of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and features columns from St. Louis Rabbis and community members. ============================================================== ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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