|Beyond Twelve Gates-Tetzaveh II|
|Written by Rabbi Ze'ev Smason|
In Texas, Shabbos trumps the semifinals. An Orthodox Jewish high school in Houston is forfeiting a chance to compete in a state Basketball tournament after the most successful regular season in school history because times for playoff games conflict with the Jewish Sabbath. The Houston Beren Academy Stars boys basketball team announced on Monday that it would forfeit its scheduled state semifinal game rather than play on Shabbos. Victories in prior matchups set up a shocking semifinal for Beren, a tiny Orthodox Jewish school of just 67 students.
"It's disappointing. I've been here 10 years and I've always known where our priorities lie," Beren boys basketball coach Chris Cole said. "We were hopeful and optimistic going in that we could be able to do both — adhere to the religious beliefs here and play basketball." However, when it became apparent that the Stars would be unable to have their gefilte fish and eat it, too, the team chose Shabbos over basketball. “The sacred mission will trump excellence in the secular world,” said Rabbi Harry Sinoff, Beren’s head of school.
Faith and prayer have been described as vitamins of the soul; we cannot live in health without them. Life presents many obstacles when we seek to stand by our faith. However, when we succeed in putting into practice our spiritual and religious values and principles, we bring multiple blessings into our lives and create a Kiddush HaShem -- a sanctification of G-d's name -- like the Kiddush HaShem created by a Jewish high school basketball team.
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 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.
Twelve years ago the scientific consensus was that humans were "nasty" at the core, with a thin veneer of morality. However, Frans de Waal, a biologist at Emory University, claims that new research increasingly debunks the view of humanity as competitive, aggressive and brutish. Author of "The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society," de Waal told a major science conference that, "Humans have a lot of pro-social tendencies." The biologist said that human children are "moral" in a scientific sense, because they need to cooperate with each other to reproduce and pass on their genes.
Dr.de Waal said his research has disproved the dominant view originally espoused by 19th century biologist Thomas Henry Huxley that morality is absent in nature and something created by humans. We have, de Waal says, pro-social tendencies for "reciprocity, fairness, empathy and consolation."
Are humans basically good, or basically evil? Judaism teaches that two inclinations exist within man: That of 'good', known in Hebrew as the yetzer tov, and that of 'evil,' known as the yetzer ha'rah. The yetzer tov is the expression of the neshama, the human soul. The yetzer ha'ra represents the inner impulse or tendency to gravitate toward selfish gratification. We part ways with those who teach that man has an inherently sinful and wicked nature. With the ability to choose either good or evil through the unique gift of freewill, our challenge is to both utilize and rise above our basic physical instincts in the service of G-d.
Quote of the Week
Sometimes I wish I had a terrible childhood, so that at least I'd have an excuse. -- Jimmy Fallon
Joke of the Week
An Englishman, a Scotsman, an Irishman, a Welshman, a Latvian, a Turk, a German, an Indian, an American, an Argentinean, a Dane, an Australian, a Slovakian, an Egyptian, a Japanese, a Moroccan, a Frenchman, a New Zealander, a Spaniard, a Russian, a Guatemalan, a Colombian, a Pakistani, a Malaysian, a Croatian, a Uzbek, a Cypriot, a Pole, a Lithuanian, a Chinese, a Sri Lankan, a Lebanese, a Cayman Islander, a Ugandan, a Vietnamese, a Korean, a Uruguayan, a Czech, an Icelander, a Mexican, a Finn, a Honduran, a Panamanian, an Andorran, an Israeli, a Venezuelan, a Fijian, a Peruvian, an Estonian, a Brazilian, a Portuguese, a Liechtensteiner, a Mongolian, a Hungarian, a Canadian, a Moldovan, a Haitian, a Norfolk Islander, a Macedonian, a Bolivian, a Cook Islander, a Tajikistani, a Samoan, an Armenian, an Aruban, an Albanian, a Greenlander, a Micronesian, a Virgin Islander, a Georgian, a Bahaman, a Belarusian, a Cuban, a Tongan, a Cambodian, a Qatari, an Azerbaijani, a Romanian, a Chilean, a Kyrgyzstani, a Jamaican, a Filipino, a Ukrainian, a Dutchman, an Ecuadorian, a Costa Rican, a Swede, a Bulgarian, a Serb, a Swiss, a Greek, a Belgian, a Singaporean, an Italian, a Norwegian and 47 Africans from different African countries, together all walk into a fine restaurant.
The maître d' looks at the group one by one, and refuses them entrance saying, "Sorry, you can't come in here without a Thai." (thanks to Barry Weinshenker)