Wednesday, October 28, 2015

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Leah Tuluca on Vayera

Good evening! This day has been on my mind for a very long time now; I really never though this day would finally come. Those of you who me, know how much I love tennis.  I started playing when I was seven, following in the footsteps of my sister Danielle and cousin Levi.  At about ten, I started getting more serious about it, and now I play in 2 to 3 tournaments a month.  I’ve won my share, but for me it’s never just about the winning (though I guess I am pretty competitive). It’s much more about learning from my mistakes and getting better….
…Which is why I found my portion to contain a very important lesson.  When Abraham’s nephew Lot and his wife are running from the city of Sodom (S’dome), as it is being destroyed, they are warned not to look back at the flaming city.  But Lot’s wife does look back, and she is turned into a pillar of salt.
From this we learn that we should always look ahead in life, and not back. While we can learn from the past, including our mistakes, we shouldn’t dwell on them.
In tennis, we have no choice but to quickly let go of our mistakes.
Two years ago, I was playing a match against someone I know pretty well.  I usually beat her and I knew that I could. But I wasn’t really playing my game and made a lot of unforced errors. So I lost. 
I got really, really mad at myself.  I just didn’t have a good day and I felt terrible.
One thing that’s important to note is that I didn’t take it out on her. In fact, win or lose, no matter how competitive I am on the court, I’ve learned how important it is to let that go when I’m off the court.  My portion speaks of how Abraham was so concerned about hospitality toward guests and maintaining a cheerful attitude.  He was in a lot of pain at the time the guests visited him, but he put on a cheerful face.  I try to do that too. But I don’t simply pretend that I’m cheerful.  I really try to let go of the match I’ve just played.
And even on the court, it is important for me to let go of my anger at myself, when I make a mistake, and focus on what I need to do to get better. 
In this case, I needed to practice more and work on the things I did wrong in the match – especially my serve (my mom really hates double faults! J).  But the thing I needed to work on the most was keeping my emotions under control.  So now, when I lose a point, or whenever I make a mistake, and yes, even when I double fault, I don’t look back like Lot’s wife did.  I’ve learned to let it go.
I’m a better player for what I’ve learned…. And more importantly, I’m a better person.  I’ve learned to let go of the occasional bad grade or the misinterpreted comment that was meant to be a joke but came out all wrong, or the one or two times J when I didn’t do my Bat Mitzvah preparations perfectly.
Lot’s wife should have taken a cue from Elsa, to just “let it go.”  I know it’s a lesson I’ve learned very well.
For my mitzvah project I collected used or new tennis equipment from my friends to donate to an organization called Kids Serving Kids.  The equipment will go to help kids who are playing wheelchair tennis.


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