Thursday, September 20, 2012

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Robert Welt on Nitzavim and the Beatles

Shabbat Shalom!
                As most of you know, I have two main interests (aside from studying Torah and leading prayers, of course J) : those interests are music and comics.  

                These two interests match up well with the themes of my portion, as we can see right from the beginning.  Just before he is about to die, Moses gives his final speech to the people of Israel, telling them, “You stand here this day, ALL OF YOU…”  Over the centuries, commentators have asked why he added that last word, KOOLCHEM, in Hebrew, which means “All of you.”  As we read in a commentary in our Bible, “The whole community is greater than the sum of its parts. Each individual may be flawed and imperfect, but when all of them join together, the strengths of each are reinforced.  This also teaches that no one should say, “It’s not my responsibility.”

                In other words, it’s all about teamwork, and the responsibility of each individual.  As it states in the book of Kohelet in the Bible, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” Teamwork is a very important Jewish value.

                You can see this demonstrated in music and comics. 

                In comics, each hero has to work closely with others even if they are not officially part of a team.  The Justice League and the Avengers are the perfect examples of teamwork in action.  As powerful as each superhero is individually, only by working together can they accomplish their common goal. 

                In music, when you are in a band, each person needs the others in order to produce just the right sound.  I’m a huge Beatles fan.  I know everything that there is to know about them!  Did your know, for instance, that “Let it Be” was actually recorded BEFORE “Abbey Road.”  But there was so much fighting on the “Let it Be” master that they had to re-do it, and in the meantime, they released “Abbey Road.” 

It’s important to know that the Beatles did not really become super popular until they replaced their old drummer, Pete Best, with Ringo.  If they hadn’t done that, they would probably have ended up playing in run down clubs and bar mitzvah parties.  Yet we think of Ringo as the least important Beatle.  And he might be, but for a team to accomplish great things, even the least important member matters.

Just as we can wonder what the Beatles would have been like without Ringo, we can ask what the Jewish people would be like without Moses, or without Abraham, or for that matter without Judy Aronin, or for that matter, without me.  Today I’m taking my place with those who have come before me.  I know that for the Jewish people to help build a better world, everyone needs to contribute – including and especially me!

For my mitzvah project, I’ve been supporting the “Adopt a Fire Fighter project.” It’s important to me because I feel that this money will help fire fighters to purchase new equipment to fight wildfires in Israel – there have been many fires there this summer, just as there have been in America.
In my rabbi's charge to Robert, I sang to him these Beatles songs with their original Jewish lyrics :)  

Moses is the Guy We'll Follow

(Sung to the tune of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds")

Picture yourself in a desert in Sinai
With sand in your shoes, and sun in your eyes
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
A man who's incredibly wise.

Very tall mountains of yellow and brown
Towering over your head
Look for the man with G-d's light in his eyes and he's gone.

Moses is the guy we'll follow
Moses is the guy we'll follow
Moses is the guy we'll follow

For Purim: “Esther Day”
Esther Day
Ahashverosh sent his queen away
Had a game Vashti refused to play
And so today is Esther Day

Every woman dreams of royalty
But there is one so fair all can agree
Esther Day came suddenly

Why she had to show I don't know
She wouldn't say
Of her deep, dark past no one asked
On Esther Day
Esther Day

Ahashverosh' court was swept away
Little did they know she was a "J"
Hip hip hooray
For Esther Day

And the ever famous “Hey Jew”

HeyJewdon't be afraid / don't eat ham; beef is better / The minute you let it under your skin / You will have sinned, so try to be better. /

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