Saturday, September 13, 2014
TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Matthew Goodman on Ki Tavo
This past summer, during the confrontation between Israel and Hamas, an Israeli soldier named Max Steinberg was killed when he was hit by Hamas explosives. What made this situation unusual is that Max was a Lone Soldier. Lone Soldiers are those who have left family members behind in another country in order to live in and fight for Israel. Max’s family was from California.
When Max’s parents arrived at Ben Gurion airport they were shocked to find out that their son was being treated like a superhero. To show their support for him, 30,000 Israelis attended his funeral.
This man did not die in vain. I think we can learn something from his death, that dying for your country is worth something because it is dying for what you believe in and living for a cause that is bigger than yourself.
That ties into my Torah portion of Ki Tavo. At the beginning of the portion, the people are instructed to bring their first fruits as a gift to the Temple in Jerusalem. Soldiers are kind of like our first fruits.
Let’s say that every person is included in one big family tree. Soldiers are like our first fruits, because they offer the greats gift and sacrifice of all – their own lives – for the good of everyone. Soldiers demonstrate the importance of self-sacrifice and living for a higher cause, even if it means dying for that cause.
This means a lot to me, because my family is filled with people who have made great sacrifices on behalf of our country by serving in the armed forces.
When the ancient Israelites delivered those first fruits, they also recited a special passage that told the story of how the Jewish people began – how Jacob and his family went down to Egypt, where we eventually became slaves, and how we were redeemed from slavery and wondered in the wilderness before finally getting to the land of Israel. For part of my Mitzvah project, I am also telling the stories that need to be told. I’ve compiled a digest of stories of the service that my relatives and others have given for our country. I’ll also be including the story of Max Steinberg.