Tuesday, November 8, 2011

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Victoria Katz on Lech Lecha

Hi, everyone----Shabbat Shalom

My portion is all about journeys.

In fact, Lech lecha means “go out.” And in the portion, Abraham had to leave his homeland and father’s family in order to follow God’s plan and to fulfill his destiny.

The message here is that you need to take journeys to new places in order to grow.

Abraham’s journey involved many trials and challenges. He had to overcome fear and doubt, and he had to learn to be empathetic and help others along the way.

Interestingly, the final challenge for Abraham takes place on a mountain, when he is instructed to bring his son Isaac up there to be sacrificed.

Mountains have been a big part of my life. Either I’m climbing up them or skiing down them. And in each case, like Abraham, I journey far from home, help others, discover new places and overcome the fear of the unknown.

Many of you know that I ski competitively. I’ve been skiing since I was 4. My specialty is freestyle, including moguls, and in particular Big Air. Big Air is exactly what it sounds like. You go off a jump and get “BIG AIR”

The first time I tried Big Air, I was scared crazy. It was about 4 years ago. My friends encouraged me and I just decided to face my fear and let it fly. I don’t remember, but it probably wasn’t the smoothest landing or the biggest air.

In fact, whenever you try anything new in freestyle, you’re probably going to fall more often than not. Abraham also made a number of mistakes while on his journey. It comes with the territory, but in the end you are a better person for having done it. For Abraham it was a leap of faith. For me, it was literally a leap, and I had the faith that I would end up on my feet or at least my skiis.

Here’s a tip regarding overcoming fear when you are skiing. It looks a lot harder when you’re watching someone else do it or looking down, than when you are actually doing it. I now can understand the Nike philosophy, “Just do it!”

By the way, (that would not have good advice for Abraham on the mountain with Isaac,).

What goes down, must go up.

Just as I love to go down mountains on skis, I also am looking forward to climbing up one. This mountain however is one of the top seven summit in the world. Next June, I will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania- Africa. I’ll be doing it to raise money for Rett Syndrome, a disorder of the nervous system. In most cases, girls loose purposeful use of their hands, have muscle weakness and often have limited mobility. I have a family friend named Jessie who has Rett Syndrome. I’ve known her just about all my life and she has been a real inspiration to me. I’ll be thinking of her throughout my journey. We are calling my trip “Step Up 2 Rett” as it’s the second time our family is climbing the mountain and I am proud to be doing it with my sister Abby. We are going to climb for all the girls who can’t and bring awareness to Rett Syndrome. Shortly, you will be able to make a donation to the Foundation.

Why do we climb an enormous mountain? As the famous British climber George Mallory once said when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, he simply replied, “Because it’s there.”

This is true for all kinds of challenges, not just mountain climbing - we need to set the bar very high (and there’s nothing higher than a mountain). The goal is finding a cure for Rett Syndrome, this is an obstacle that we all need to overcome.

I can really relate to Abraham and his journey, even though I’ve only just begun mine. In some ways, it begins today, as I become a bat mitzvah.

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