Sunday, November 8, 2009

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Isabella Esposito on Vayera

Those of you who know me, know that I love music. When I started playing guitar a couple of years ago, it gave me the chance to learn and listen to many different kinds of music. Music from rap to country, from old rock and roll to pop hits from today. Being introduced to all of these types of music has made me understand how music can reflect how we feel. It also can help us to overcome sadness and make us happy.

It so happens that my Torah portion, Vayera, is one of the most musical parshas of the torah. Even thought it isn’t even mentioned once. As you might remember, during Rosh Hashanna, we read about Akaydat Yitzchak, the binding of Isaac. Abraham almost sacrifices Yitzchak, but instead, Hashem tells him that it was only a test of his loyalty and gives him a ram to sacrifice instead. This is where we get the idea of blowing the shofar and this is why we read it on Rash Hashanna. Music is the way we fill our lives with happiness and purpose. The Hebrew word for hollow, ‘halal’, also means wounded or hurt. In our lives, when we feel hurt, music heals us. One of the purposes of the shofar is that we all have to fill the hollow part of people’s lives and make them more whole.

My portion gives us several ways to do that. At the beginning. Hashem visits Abraham when he is in pain. This is the model for us of Bikur Holim, visiting the sick. Then Abraham welcomes three guests with open arms, and this is the first example of Hachanast Orchim, hospitality, or welcoming guests, another important mitzvah. The Torah shows us how important it is when Abraham even turns away from a conversation with Hashem to welcome the guests. Later in the portion, Abraham stands up for the people of Sedom even though he doesn’t know them, to save them all from being destroyed. Finally, we read about Akaydat Yitzchak, and the shofar.

In a way we are all shofars. Each of us has the ability to be the music to people’s lives. I’ve been doing this by going to Sunrise Assisted Living to lead Shabbat services on Friday afternoons and play wii. When I go there I don’t know how many people will join me. It could be two or twenty but it doesn’t matter because the people who are there really enjoy it. Doing this taught me that volunteering benefits the person who you are helping and yourself.

Now a Bat Mitzvah, I’ve learned many ancient melodies and seen how important music has been for the Jewish people for thousands of years. And now, I get my chance to add a few notes of my own.

No comments: