Thursday, November 15, 2012

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Melanie Roloff on Hayye Sarah

In my portion of Hayye Sarah, Abraham sends out his servant Eliezer to find a wife for his son Isaac.  As Eliezer arrives at his destination, he asks God for a sign to help him choose the right wife for Isaac.  He’s looking for someone who is willing to go above and beyond – not just to be kind to him, but to offer water to his camels as well.

Lo and behold, Rebecca, the first woman Eliezer meets, turns out to be just that person.  She offers not only to give Eliezer water, but to give water to his camels too.  Rebecca is a great role model for all of us and for me too.  She teaches us how important it is to go above and beyond in order to help others, whether they be animals or other people.

This is a model I’ve always tried to follow.  I’ve always tried to go above and beyond in helping others.

Abraham Joshua Heschel said, "When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people."

Well, now that I’m “old” – a bat mitzvah – I do too, and I want to be someone who can be a role model for kindness.

I’ve tried to do this for most of my life.  When I was younger, I went with the JCC to the library of a nursing home to organize the books.  I remember going with the temple to sing at a nursing home as well.

We can go above and beyond even in less noticeable ways.  I’m on the Sharks, a swim team in Stamford.  The meets can be very competitive.  But I make a practice to give encouragement to all the others swimmers, even my opponents.  I wish them good luck before the race and then at the end of the race, if they are in the next lane over I’ll always say “good job,” or something like that.  There’s always something more you can do to make others feel better.  I also encourage my teammates, even when we lose.  I still say “Good job” and “It’s OK.”  I’ve found that the more I set the tone by doing that, the more I find others giving back the same encouragement. 

To this point, no opponent has ever said “good job” to me without my doing it first, but maybe it will happen soon.  Meanwhile, it’s still good for me to above and beyond and be like Rebecca, even if others choose not to be like me.
      For my mitzvah project, I raised money for an O-la-mi scholarship, JCC vacation Day Program, books for TBE and now I am raising money for cancer research at Hadassah Hospital by collecting bottles and cans for deposit.  Over the past two years, I’ve raised over fifteen hundred dollars!  My family and friends have really helped me out on this.  Just like Rebecca, they’ve gone way above and beyond the call to help.

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