Selected Sermon/Article
2011-02-11 Beyond Twelve Gates (BTG) by Rabbi Zeev Smason
Parshas Tetzaveh Exodus 27:20 -- 30:10

Welcome to Beyond Twelve Gates.

Is there a cheating gene?  The propensity to cheat or have one-night stands might be partly hardwired, a new study reveals in science journal PLoS ONE.   Researchers surveyed 181 individuals and then took DNA samples.  People with a variant of the DRD4 gene were about twice as likely to commit an act of infidelity as those without the variant.  It was shown that people with the DRD4 variant react more strongly to dopamine (a pleasure chemical released during risk taking) than those who don't have the gene.  How can we reconcile this scientific discovery to the moral demands of the Torah?

Life is an ongoing procession of challenges and opportunities.  At times, we face the challenge of balancing deep-seated emotions and desires with our core principles.   Though times may change, values never change.  What was true in the realm of values and morals 3,300 years ago remains true today.   When a conflict arises between our desires and our values, let our guide be the light of the eternal values of the Torah.

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 inauguration ritual for the newly constructed Mishkan, to be performed exclusively by Moses for seven days.   The inauguration 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.

Rabbinic Ruminations

It's an exclusive club that will never grow bigger.  But after 45 years, the "Never Miss a Super Bowl Club" has three remaining members.  Perhaps you saw the Visa commercial that featured men who have attended every Super Bowl since the first one in 1967.  We all know about some of the most famous sports streaks like Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, Lance Armstrong's seven consecutive Tour de France titles and the UConn Huskies women’s basketball team's 89 consecutive victories.  Consistency is an important key to success in sports, and in life.
We can learn the value of consistency from a fascinating Torah teaching.  One sage declared that the most significant verse in the Torah is that which commands us to bring the daily lamb offering every morning and every night.  This seemingly uninspired verse nevertheless represents attributes that are vital to each of us as we face the challenges of daily life -- those of consistency and persistence. .
In Judaism and in life, winning isn’t everything;  trying your best and putting your best foot forward is.  What brings G-d His greatest pleasure is watching us grow to become consistent in becoming better people and better Jews, so that even if we fail, He knows that we did our best.  As John Wooden said: “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”  Be great consistently and you will be consistently rewarded.

Quote of the Week

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else

 -- Judy Garland

Joke of the Week

Joe had 50-yard line tickets for the Super Bowl.  As he sat down, George came along and asked if anyone was sitting in the seat next to him.  "No," Joe said, "the seat is empty."

"That's incredible," said George. "Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event in the world, and not use it?  These seats cost thousands of dollars."
Somberly, Joe said, "Well... the seat actually belongs to me. I was supposed to come here with my wife, but she passed away. This is the first Super Bowl we have not been to together since we got married in 1967."
"Oh I'm sorry to hear that, that's terrible. But couldn't you find someone else - a friend or relative or even a neighbor to take the seat?"
Joe shook his head, "No, they're all at the funeral." (joke heard from Dr. William Krieger)
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