Monday, March 18, 2019

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Matthew Goodman on Vayikra / Shabbat Zachor

Shabbat Shalom!

Today has been a great day for me.  But really, it’s been a great year, especially for sports.

-       First, last March, my JCC basketball team won the county championship.
-       Then, in June, my little league team won the Stamford American little league championship and I pitched a complete game for my team.
-       Then, in the fall, my house soccer team won the soccer finals for the fourth time!
-       And, oh yes, I’m a big Red Sox and Patriots fan, and we know what happened there. A World Series and Super Bowl in the same season.

Yeah, yeah…I see your eyes roll!

I have to say, I am one lucky kid.

But with my teams winning, there are a couple of lessons that I have learned.

Lesson number one:  Winning takes a lot of hard work, focus and determination. Always try your hardest. When you are trying to win a championship, you can’t take your foot off the gas, or be satisfied before it is over, and expect to win.  Look at the Patriots. A few years ago, they were losing 28-3 in the Super Bowl. They kept working hard when the other team took their foot off the gas and thought it was over. The Patriots came back and won.

My haftarah continues the story of Amalek that was also the subject of the maftir Torah reading.  Amalek attacked Israel right after they left Egypt.  They did not fight fair – as they attacked them from behind. Israel defeated them in the Wilderness; but in my haftarah, King Saul, who was ordered to destroy them completely, let’s their king, Agag off the hook.  Because of that, the nation of Amalek survived, and their descendant, Haman, nearly destroyed the Jewish people.  The holiday of Purim, which we celebrate this week, tells that part of the story.

A second lesson that I’ve learned about winning is that you need teamwork. The winning teams that I have been on had kids that worked together and didn’t rely on one player to win. Plus, it’s important always to be humble and support each other.

In soccer and basketball, you can’t score without passing.  And in baseball, you’ve got to work together in the field to get the out and encourage teammates who are up at bat to get a hit.
Eventually, the Jewish people came together through teamwork and support for each other and defeated the evil Haman.

For my mitzvah project, I am working with two organizations. First, I am working with an organization called Little Wonder. Little Wonder helps people with cancer enjoy themselves a little bit as they go through treatment. They get tickets to local sporting events, shows, and other entertainment to give to people with cancer. Little Wonder is currently working with 21 hospitals in the state of Connecticut. This Mitzvah project is dedicated to my grandparents Beverly and Fred, who I never met because they both passed away from cancer before I was born. Thanks to you, my family and friends; I was able to achieve my goal of raising 1000 dollars in total (I have actually raised over 2000 dollars so far!).

The second organization I am supporting is called Leveling The Playing Field, which provides sports equipment to children who wouldn’t otherwise have the right equipment to play. Most of you know that I love sports and I am lucky to have the equipment that I need to play. Others are not as lucky as I am. So I am collecting sports equipment to donate to them. In this way, I’m playing a small part in doing what real winners have to do – which is to help others to become winners too.

Please consider donating if you haven’t already and thank you to those who have already donated.

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