Sunday, March 22, 2015

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Hannah Bushell on Vayikra

Shabbat Shalom!
My portion begins the Book of Leviticus and describes the sacrifices of animals at the time of the ancient temple.
Thankfully, we don’t do sacrifices anymore – although even when they were done, sacrifices weren’t just about killing animals.  After they were killed, the meat was grilled and eaten.  So what we’re describing was your basic barbecue.
Still, I must say that the idea of sacrificing animals bothers me. Even though I consider myself a good cook.   Actually I’m more of a baker – and by the way, have you ever tried my smores brownies?  They are to die for!   But back to sacrifices.  If it’s just like a barbecue, why does the whole idea bother me? 
It so happens that I really love animals. And I ask myself, what did animals do to us for us to treat them that way?
About 10 years ago, Maggie came into my life.  Maggie is a black lab who didn’t pass her Seeing Eye dog test.  But although she is not a service dog, and so she couldn’t come to services, I’ve come to see how caring she can be. Instead of sacrificing animals to God at the temple, I’ve learned how animals interact with people, and how they are capable of making great sacrifices for one another and humans, everywhere and all the time.
Maggie is like a personal psychologist.  Whenever I am upset and go over to her, she can tell that I’m sad.  While under normal circumstances she might run away, at these times, she kisses me and puts her head in my lap.
Maggie gives me exercise.  She always wants to play and she also loves attention, which gives me a chance to learn how to care for another living thing.  Maggie is the reason I roll out of bed in the morning. I can hear her squeaking her squeaky toys downstairs and know that she is waiting for someone to play with her.  I can see why dogs are called man’s, or girls’ best friend, because Maggie is definitely mine. (Look over at friends… “But you all are too! J”)
She’s also inspired my choice for my mitzvah project.
For my project I am raising money for CCI – Canine Companions for Independence – an organization that works to train dogs to help wounded soldiers, emotionally affected children, and many other types of disabled adults and children.
I am raising money by making and selling dog magnets made from Perler beads.  One of the events in which I sold these dog magnets was at the Temples Purim Carnival. I also had cookies and brownies for sale at my booth.
I was inspired not only by Maggie, but by a recent story about a dog named Haatchi.  Haatchi is an Anatolian Shepherd who lost one of his legs after being tied to a railroad track by an abusive person.  He was later adopted by a family to help their son, Owen, who has a rare genetic condition that causes his muscles to contract uncontrollably and made him fearful of appearing in public. Hattchi helped Owen overcome his anxiety of the outside world.  The two are now inseparable, and Owen now loves taking Haatchi out in public including to dog shows, where he has proved to be quite a hit.

Despite the severe challenges they had to face individually, Owen and Haatchi, united as a team, have showed us that true friendship can overcome any amount of sacrifice.

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