Tuesday, November 26, 2013

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Mara Teich on Vayeshev

Shabbat Shalom!

As John Wooden once said, “It’s the little details that are vital.  Little things make big things happen.”  All throughout life, people try and focus on the “big picture,” but sometimes, the smallest of things makes the biggest difference. 

This is shown in many ways, one of which is movies.  As many of you may know, I love to watch movies, and over the years I have noticed that it’s not always the main character who contributes most to the plot.  It’s the secondary character, the unknown character… the little guy!

Why am I bringing this up, you may ask? My Torah portion, Vayeshev, relates to this idea of noticing the “little things” very well.

In the portion, Joseph has some dreams that cause his brothers to get very angry and jealous.  A short time later, Jacob sends Joseph up to see them where they are grazing with their flocks.  On the way, he gets lost and asks an unknown man for directions.  This person is someone you would never expect to be important – he (or she) doesn’t even have a name!  Jewish history was changed by this supposedly unimportant person. Without him Joseph never would have found his brothers and never would have been sent down to Egypt, and his brothers and father never would have gone down either, where they stayed for hundreds of years only to become slaves of Pharaoh….. but that’s another story.

This kind of thing happens in movies all the time.  The little guy turns out to be very important.  I especially love Disney movies.  There’s a perfect example of this in “Cinderella.”  The four mice are certainly little, but these characters lend Cinderella a lot of moral support.  And with a little bit of magic, they became the horses that took her to the ball.  Without those little mice, she never would have gotten there.

This coming Thursday is a combination of three holidays that will never happen together again:  Thanksgiving, the first day of Hanukkah… and my birthday!  I call it Thanksbirthukah!! Each of these celebrates the power of the little guy….or girl, to make a difference.  The pilgrims were outcasts in England.  The Maccabees were bullied by the Greeks.  And me?  Well, no one has made me an outcast, but it took a while for my voice to be heard.  Literally.  When I was a young baby I couldn’t speak because I had speech apraxia, a severe motor speech disorder.   And it was only with special care and speech therapy that I eventually became the talkative person I am today. 

So I know firsthand how much of a difference the single individual can make.  For my mitzvah project, I volunteered at the Community Center for Northern Westchester, where I worked at the food pantry and clothing boutique.  I will continue volunteering there hoping to make a difference for the families in need. You can read about the Center in my Bat Mitzvah booklet. Thank you for your donations. I also hope I made a difference for a child when I donated my hair to Locks of Love.

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