Tuesday, October 22, 2013

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Helene Leichter on Hayye Sarah

Tonight I’d like to talk about trust.  Two weeks ago my class went to Greenkill, an outdoor camping experience that teaches team building skills.  I had a great time.  While we were there, we did a number of activities that I found to be interesting and fun.

At one point, we played a game called Raging River.  The goal is to help the group get across an imaginary river.  It wasn’t a real river – so don’t worry, Mom!!

We also created a “Human Knot.”  This is where you join hands and try to untangle the interlocked arms without letting go of one another.  Our group was able to do it in just three minutes.   We also did something called a low ropes course and learned how to spot our friends – kind of like a trust fall.

So much is based on trust. You really can’t have a friendship or an effective grade without trust.  I wrote this last year on a poster for my history class: “You can’t have a friendship without trust and you can’t have trust without a friendship.”  Believe it or not, Ernest Hemingway said something similar.  He said “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

So if trust is so important, why did Abraham not trust Isaac to go out and find a wife for himself?

It’s understandable that Abraham was afraid.  After all, Isaac was born when he was very old.  Also, he was afraid of losing Isaac, since he had just lost his wife, Sarah.   This decision was important not just for the two of them, but for the future of the Jewish people. There was a lot riding on this choice of a wife.   

There another side to this.  Isaac just lost his mother and had a not-too -pleasant experience with Abraham at the Akeda, when he was nearly sacrificed – so maybe Isaac had lost confidence in himself.  He didn’t trust his own judgment.  Maybe Isaac ASKED Abraham to find him a wife.

But by the end of the story, Isaac learns to trust again.  The text says that he loved Rebecca before he had met her up close. And Rebecca was wearing a veil, so he hadn’t even seen her face.  To this day, the veil worn at a wedding symbolizes the leap of faith couples make when they decide to get married.  Trust really makes the world go round.

As many of you know, I love dance. I’ve been doing it since I was a little girl.  Dance has taught me the importance of building trust – how?

Well, you need to be able to trust your partner to help you and not step on your toes, your teacher to teach you how to not hurt yourself and to express yourself artistically.  And last, you have to trust yourself, to be able to know your limits and how to surpass those limits as well as your own expectations. 

A few weeks ago, I finally managed to do a triple pirouette. I’d been working on it for a year!  It made me feel so proud.  Sort of how I feel today.

Trust is also at the heart of  my Mitzvah project.  The first part of my project involved selecting books, games and art supplies, packing them up and donating them to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Connecticut.  Families in need place their trust in the rest of us to do the right thing to make a difference in the lives of their children.  As the one who donated the items, I needed to place my trust in Big Brothers and Big Sisters that they would give the books and games to the children who needed them the most.

The second part of my Mitzvah project will involve reading to first graders at BCDS – that is if Mrs. Herman gives me permission.  She will need to have confidence that I will approach this responsibly and the first graders will need to have confidence that my reading to them will be an enjoyable and hopefully educational part of their day.

The third part of my Mitzvah project involves Remembrance.  During the Holocaust, trust was broken at so many levels.  Jews could not trust their governments, their neighbors or, in many cases, their friends.  My Grandpa David, who survived the Holocaust, was born in a city called Presov.  When the war ended, my Grandfather placed his trust in the decency of the American soldiers that he met to journey from Europe to America to start a new life.  His trust was similar to Rebekah’s trust when she agreed to leave Aram without delay to marry Isaac.

Others were not as fortunate as my Grandfather.  Tonight I want to honor the memory of Chaya Sara Willner, a little girl from Presov, who did not survive the Holocaust and did not live to experience the joys of her own Bat Mitzvah.  I intend to remember Chaya Sara on every Yom Hashoah.  In my booklet, you can read the poems of another young girl from Presov who survived the Holocaust and see some of the photos that my sister Elana took in Poland and Israel on her Lev V’Nefesh trip last winter. 

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