Friday, December 6, 2013

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Noah Finchler on Mikketz (Hanukkah)

Shabbat Shalom!  And thank you for coming here today from far and wide as we celebrate my bar mitzvah.

This week, we also celebrated a once in a lifetime holiday: Thanksgivikkah.  Today is also a special day for other reasons: it’s Shabbat, my dad’s birthday as well as mine, and of course, my bar mitzvah.

Many things have contributed to my being here today.  As most of you know, I am a black belt in karate.  What you may not know, is that my karate skills are very similar to the skills I have learned in preparing for today.

No, I am not going to chop through the torah or anything!  Because in karate, I have learned that there are many was to be strong. I have also learned it from being Jewish.

In karate, in fact, being strong is not the most important thing. It’s more important to be focused and quick.  You must also be patient, calm not only in your head, but your soul as well.

The same is true in scouting, which I also love. The scout Oath is “On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country, to obey the scout law. To help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”   Physical strength is not enough.  

The message of Chanukah is very similar. You have the Maccabees, who possessed great physical strength. But the message from my Haftarah is different. It says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit.”  This means that I would not have learned everything today by might or power, but by my will to learn as much as I can and then, when it would be easy to stop, to keep on going.

The key is to be strong in many different ways.  For me, a way to be strong is through self control.  Self control came to me through Karate, as we have to be very mature, and not fool around when we are sparring or anything else that we are doing during the class. We have to focus all our energy into each move, and not to have any distractions.

In my Torah portion, Joseph had to show self control to not reveal himself to his brothers, and in teaching the Egyptians to store the food during the 7 years of plenty, so they would have food for the 7 years of famine.

On Thankgivukkah we had to have self control to not eat too much turkey and potato latkes.

As I grow into an adult, I am hoping to use the lessons that I have learned from my grandfather, who unfortunately has passed on. He was a man who has extremely strong moral character and physical strength too.  He was able to fix things so easily.  He even fixed the ark upstairs in the chapel.  Whenever when I go into that chapel, I think of him.  I know he is smiling down on me today.

For my mitzvah project, I volunteered at Person to Person and helped sort all kinds of food and then put items on the shelves.  I’m also donating a part of my bar mitzvah money to the food bank of Hawaii. The organization donates mass quantities of both perishable and non-perishable goods to 250 charitable agencies on Oahu. The Food bank of Hawaii now feeds over 183,500 people in Hawaii. That is over 14% of the population of Hawaii. This includes children, the elderly, the homeless, the disabled, low-income families, and the unemployed.  

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