Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: William Bralower on Hanukkah

Shabbat Shalom and happy Hanukkah!

This time of year can bring out differences and tensions among people of different backgrounds. Yes it’s true that our holidays might be different, but beneath it all these is so much that we share.

The Joseph story, which includes my portion, is a perfect example of that. Joseph and his brothers never got along, but by the end of the story --- and even in the middle section that we read this week – Joseph recognizes that he still loves his brothers and that they are really not all that different from him.
For most of the story, Joseph is pretending to be different, putting on Egyptian clothes and taking an Egyptian name. The brothers don’t recognize him. But when Joseph meets them, he can’t help but cry eventually. He hides those tears for a while, but in the end, he reveals himself to them, and the differences are wiped away.

In my home we’ve learned that not only are differences among people overrated, but also differences among animals. By the way, in case you don’t know, my house has lots of pets. It all began when I took home the 5th grade class pets, two guinea pigs. They messed my room, so I gave them back; but then on a vacation, we met two insect experts who convinced me that tarantulas are great pets. I asked my mom if we could get them and she said “sure,” so now I have two of them. Then came three leopard geckos, now two. They get along really well. I also have 2 fire toads and, last but not least, two standard poodles, one cockapoo and possibly a fish. Long story.

What has having all these creatures taught me? That despite all the differences, all of us eat, all of us need our space, all of us have times when we want to be together and other times when we prefer to be alone.
As for my dogs, let’s just say that they sometimes act like Joseph and his brothers. If I pet one more than the others, the others might feel jealous and attack the one who’s getting the attention.

How do I try to handle the situation? It’s hard to know when to step between them and when to let them fight it out. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s usually best to let them work it out on their own. Eventually they come to realize that it is better to get along than to fight, and that they share so much in common. Like their doggy bed.

At my school, I recently learned how nice it is to be able to share things during this holiday season. In band class, we heard we’ll be doing a Christmas song, and so I said, “maybe we should have a Hanukkah song.” Sure enough, they put one in!
This is the time of year when we should celebrate our differences but also appreciate how in the end, we’re all very similar and that we should love our neighbor as ourselves.

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