Thursday, November 20, 2008

TBE Bar/ Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Tammy Wise on Parashat Vayera

You might have noticed that there are a good number of kids here today. My portion is all about friendships and how people need to be hospitable toward one another. So it got me to thinking about how my friends come from so many different places and groups.

Just to give you an idea, I’d like to ask all my friends from Cloonan to stand up. OK now you can be seated.

Now, all my friends from softball, please stand up. OK, now you can be seated.

Now, my friends from Hebrew School, please stand. OK, now be seated.

My friends from the neighborhood, please stand. Now be seated.

Finally, anyone who hasn’t stood up yet. I know this group from a variety of places. (please be seated)

As you can see, friends are very important to me.

And they were to Abraham and Sarah too!

At the beginning of the portion, when guests came to visit, the first thing Abraham did was to get up and greet them. He didn’t wait for them to come to the door, he went out to meet them. When people come to my house, I often do that same thing – even more than my sisters do, but I must admit, my dog Tucker always beats me to it.

Abraham’s tent was a real center of activity. According to legend, the tent was pitched right in the middle of a major roadway, so caravans had to stop and accept his hospitality before moving on to their destination. The same is true for my house. My mom is often talking about how our house is so incredibly busy all the time. My friends and my sisters’ friends all seem to be filtering in all the time. We live on a street where everyone is friendly toward each other, and my house, like Abraham’s tent, is the Grand Central Station of Brodwood Drive.

The portion also teaches us other aspects of friendship, like caring for people’s feelings, defending them when they are in danger, and visiting them when they are sick.

I try to be honest with my friends all the time, like Abraham was. But the portion also shows how there are times when it is better not to be totally truthful. When Sarah heard that she was going to have a baby, she said that her husband is too old, but when God relayed that conversation to Abraham, he conveniently left that part out, so Abraham wouldn’t be offended.

I can think of times when I’ve also had to slip by with a white lie in order not to embarrass someone.

So as I become a Bat Mitzvah less than two weeks before Thanksgiving, I realize how thankful I am for all of my friends and that all of you could be here with me today.

For my mitzvah project, I’ve been helping out at the Food Bank of lower Fairfield County. The need is so great right now and I am thankful for all who have donated in the bins that I set up here at the temple.

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