Tuesday, June 6, 2017

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Sophie Blomberg on Naso

Good morning folks. Shabbat Shalom. Those of you who know me know that I lead an unbelievably busy life. Check out my schedule on a random Thursday. I wake up at 6:45 am.  If needed - facetime friends to finalize studying for a test, out of the house and on the bus by 7:30, in school until 2:30, school basketball until 4:00, race to Hebrew School until 6, grab a slice of pizza at temple, meet my Bat Mitzvah tutor until 6:45 when mom picks me up and takes me to Travel basketball practice until 9.  
I arrive home around 9:15. Dinner. Homework and more Bat Mitzvah prep. No time for TV, no time to hang out. Bed by 10:30-11.
7 hours later I do it all again except delete Hebrew school and tutor and add in 1.5 -2 hours of swim practice or a private lesson.
You may think I am a bit nuts. A bit overscheduled.
You might think that this schedule would make me a little bit cranky. That is just not the case.   I get good grades, enjoy everything I do and can usually smile my way through the day.
            So… you may ask… what is my secret? I will tell you in a second… but first a word from the Torah.
My portion includes something very unusual and unexpected. There was a class of people in ancient times known as the Nazirites. Nazarites took vows to be set apart from others for the service of G-d; which required them to abstain from certain foods and beverages - including wine. They refused to cut any hair on their bodies.  They could not even visit the graves of their deceased family members because they did not want to be “ritually impure.”  They went above and beyond what others did at the time. They imposed strict order and limits on how they controlled their life and they did this voluntarily, dedicating themselves to G-d.
So, the Torah is teaching us, that in order to get control of our lives, we need to give something – and to go above and beyond the rules that are already in place.
In order to structure my time to get things done, like the Nazerite, I have chosen to give up certain things, like social media with my friends on most weekdays and, believe it or not, television.  Yes it’s true.  On most weekdays and even weekends when I have games or meets or, yes, services, I watch almost no TV.   For instance, I’m still on the second season of Grey’s Anatomy, which came out twelve years ago
People of my generation have found other ways to reduce their stress levels found in this chaotic world that do not require giving up something like TV.  Unfortunately for the Nazerites, they never had Fidgit spinners, Fidgit cubes or Stress balls - are all items that we use today to reduce our stress. And then there is slime…Most of you know that beginning this past March, slime was a big hit. Slime is today’s silly putty. It can consist of a wide variety of ingredients including glue, foam hand soap, shaving cream (preferably your father’s Barbisol hidden in the closet), lotions, food dye and borax.  A true slime maker will also have glitter, foam beads or sequins on hand. You may wonder why in the world anyone would want to make this gooey, sticky, substance.
Well, it accomplishes several goals.  For one thing, it drives our parents crazy, including mine.  I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say, that slime stain is still on the kitchen ceiling.  Also, I used to sell slime to my friends and made some money off of it.  But most of all, slime gives us a way to relax when we are stressed out.   If the Nazerites had had slime, their life would have been much less stressful!
I don’t know if it’s the slime or the lack of TV or the time I don’t waste online, but whatever it is, I think I’ve found the secret to being able to live a happy life with such a chaotic schedule.
In fact, I just don’t know what I’m going to do with myself now that my bat mitzvah studies are over.  I suppose I could stop by and read some Torah from time to time. Or maybe I’ll just finish Grey’s Anatomy.
(Put hands out as if weighing your options)
Torah…Grey’s Anatomy…. Grey’s Anatomy… Torah.
You know what?  I might just do both!
For my mitzvah project, I arranged for a swim event at the Westhill pool as a fundraiser for Swim Across America, helping to raise money for cancer research.  Thus far I’ve raised $2,294. 
Swimming is a great passion of mine.  I’ve been swimming since I was five and made the state meet twice; I practice five times a week for up to two hours each time and… which is why I wanted to write a dvar Torah about how to manage a very busy schedule!
Raising money for cancer research is very important to me because cancer has touched my life in many ways. I was named after my great grandmother, Estelle Klein, who died after a very long battle with cancer at age 93. I understand she was a very strong and special person who always put others before herself. She was a fighter. Although she wasn’t an athlete like me, she never gave up. Sadly, I never got to meet her but I can see that I got my strength and drive from her.
I have also been touched by a close friend’s brother, Eli Schwartz. Eli was diagnosed with cancer at age 5. Like Estelle, Eli fought hard and never gave up. As I got to know Eli, he became the little brother I never had. Eli, who is now in 4th grade is very happy - and most importantly I'm happy to say healthy and cancer free. 

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