Monday, October 31, 2011

TBE Bar / Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Elias Boyer on Noah

Shabbat Shalom!

Ok, so there are 2 muffins sitting in the oven. One muffin says to the other “Boy its hot in here” and the other muffin goes “WOW, a talking muffin!”

You are probably wondering what connection this has to my portion. The answer is absolutely nothing.

In my portion, God commands Noah to build an ark and take a pair of every animal and 7 pairs of kosher animals into this ark and to stay there while God floods the world. While Noah was on the ark he had to care of all those animals right? For those of you who have pets you know how hard it can be. Now try to imagine yourself taking care of 1 million different kinds of animals, all with their different needs. Noah had it really hard on this ark. Many commentators have said that Noah didn’t have the compassion and love that Abraham had and that Abraham did have these attributes and was a better person. However I think that Noah had a lot of compassion and love because of the fact that God chose him to care for all the animals in the world.

I have my own pets. I have 2 hamsters and 2 chickens. My hamsters are Hamtaro and Bijou and my chickens are named Skipper and McGonagall. I think that chickens really are great pets. They make you laugh and they do all sorts of funny things. However unlike a dog or cat they really depend on you for not only food and water but also for protection. There are many things out there to which a chicken is a tasty snack. I’ve seen that first hand when Skipper was attacked by a hawk and when my other chicken, Hermione, was killed by a fox. It must have been really hard for Noah to keep the chickens away from the hawks, dogs, wolves, foxes, eagles, lions, etc. It was a full time job for him to keep all the animals safe.

Although you might not believe it, chickens are really Jewish animals. There are customs involving chickens such as before Yom Kippor when it is traditional to swing a chicken around over your head in a ceremony called kapporot. It’s supposed to be a way to transfer your sins the chicken. Many people still do this today, others give charity instead. Chickens are kosher, which brings me to my next subject, Jewish food, and how much chickens are involved in it. Matzo Ball soup is a very Jewish food. But how do you make it? You make the matzo balls and put it into a chicken broth. Chicken soup + Matzo Balls= Nice, Friday Night meal. Chicken soup also heals all sickness. When ever I’m sick I eat chicken soup NOT from my chickens and I feel better. At many Jewish tables chicken is the main course of Friday night dinner, along with the soup. Chickens have worked their way into so many Jewish customs and traditions.

However, in the beginning God wanted humans to be vegetarians. In fact humans were not allowed to eat meat until after Noah’s flood where God made an exception and the people could kill animals for food. Before the flood no one ate meat, in Bereishit, or Genesis, where God says to Adam, 'Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed--to you it shall be for food.” Even animals were created to be vegetarian, the following section reads, “and to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is a living soul, [I have given] every green herb for food.”

But after Noah and the flood, God does let people eat animals, but with lots of restrictions. In the Torah cruelty to animals is strictly forbidden. You may not cause indiscriminate pain and destruction. People could only kill animals for legitimate reasons. Hunting for fun was banned however hunting for food was not. We are instructed in the Talmud to feed our animals before our selves. Also one of the reasons why Noah had to bring more pairs of kosher animals is so that the people would have food to eat. In the torah it says that if you treat animals well then you will have a long life. That is the same reward as that for respecting your parents.

For my mitzvah project I will be donating a percentage of my Bar mitzvah money to 2 local animal shelters. I spoke with people at the shelters and they game me lists of things they need. Last week I went to the pet store and bought many of the items. They’re right here in these dog beds. I’ll bring them over to the shelters on Monday. If they’ll let me, I’ll help in other ways too, but I may be too young. Even though I’m a man according to Jewish law, Connecticut law doesn’t seem to think so and state regulations require a parent to volunteer with me.

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