Wednesday, April 1, 2009

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Julie Arditti on Vayikra

My portion begins the book of Leviticus, which some people call the most boring book of the Torah. True, it is a lot less exciting than Genesis and Exodus, which we’ve just completed. The crossing of the Red Sea and the giving of the Ten Commandments are a hard act to follow, and it is difficult to find much that is interesting about sacrifices, which is the subject of my portion, Vayikra. But it is that simplicity that also makes it so interesting and powerful.

The first word of my portion is Vayikra, meaning God called. The ancient rabbis and commentators wondered why God called to Moses and didn’t just speak to him. Why did God need to get Moses attention in this way? Their answer is that when God called, Moses thought all the hard work was already done. The people had left Egypt, received the Torah, and built a sanctuary, so what more was left to do? By calling to Moses, God is telling him that the most important work is yet to come - the sacrifices of daily worship. The message here is that the things that matter most are the simple things.

For me, the simple things I appreciate in life are sometimes more important than the big things. Such as, waking up and having a roof over my head, being able to have breakfast, petting my dogs, having clothes to wear and a family that loves me.

Every morning when I get onto my bus I say good morning to the bus driver. And when I get off I say thank you. In the course of my life these bus rides are just bus rides. By thanking him, I am showing my appreciation for the little things.

At Camp Kenwood when there are thunderstorms, I get frightened. Last year there was a huge thunderstorm and we all had to wait in the gymnastics building for hours. I now appreciate that building and how it kept us from getting wet or even hurt.

For my mitzvah project, I made and sold breast cancer ribbon pins and will donate all the proceeds to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. By the way, if you still want to purchase a pin, please contact me. I have decorated the pins with simple objects that remind us that even the simplest things can be meaningful.

My Torah portion has not only taught me the importance of appreciating things, but also to be humble.

As I said before God called to Moses using the word Vayikra. There is a story that Moses was so humble that he didn’t want people to think that God talked just to him. So Moses changed the word to Vayikar, which means that God just happened upon Moses. When God insisted that the word be Vayikra, showing that God had a special relationship with Moses, Moses compromised to keep the word Vayikra, but he made the alef small.

In fifth grade when I was elected president of student council, although I was excited and wanted to scream, I went straight to the runner-up and told her how great she did and that she ran a great race.

So, from my Torah portion I’ve learned to be gracious, humble and appreciative. I guess Vayikra isn’t so boring after all.

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