Wednesday, February 10, 2010

TBE Bar Mitzvah Commentary: Joel Castle on Yitro

Last summer I was in Israel and I visited Masada. My family and I toured the ancient ruins, including the world’s oldest synagogue. Then I saw the view, and I was blown away by the vastness of it. Desert as far as the eye could see. Hazy mountains lining the horizon, with the Dead Sea in the foreground. Of the entire trip to Israel, that was the most memorable moment. But, there were many other special moments, like when I visited the Western Wall with my Dad or swimming in the Mediterranean Sea with my family.

Sacred moments come in all shapes and sizes, whether it is when you are alone, or in a group, planned, or unexpected, far away, or right at home.

My Torah and Haftarah readings give us some examples of the most amazing, incredible, sacred moments ever experienced. The Torah Portion describes the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. That event was experienced by all of the Jewish people. The Haftarah describes Isaiah the prophet’s very personal, mystical vision of God and Angels.

Sacred moments don’t have to be either collective or very personal. They can be both. For example right now is a very special moment for me in a way that it is for nobody else. But for every one who knows me, it is also very special.

This time of year is filled with special moments. There is tomorrow’s Super Bowl, which is something shared by the whole country. If only the Jets could have gotten in. Well, maybe next year. Coming up over the next few weeks are Purim and Passover. I always find the Passover Seder to be a very spiritual moment for me every year. And then there are the holidays that don’t appear on the calendar. Or like the time my Dad had his bags packed for a business trip to England. Suddenly he turned to us and said ‘Pack your bags, you’re coming too!’

One thing that we learn from the Ten Commandments is that Jews tend to have sacred moments, not sacred things. In the Ten Commandments we are constantly reminded not to worship things. No graven images, no thievery, and not to covet. Worshipping things always seems to get us into trouble.

Sometimes the most sacred moments come when you are helping others and doing Mitzvot. For my mitzvah project I have and will be monitoring the clean-up of the Mill River.

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