Sunday, March 10, 2019
TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Zachary Price on Pekuday
Thank you for coming here to celebrate with me and my family today.
My portion of Pekuday concludes a LONG and detailed description of the construction of the mishkan in the wilderness. This description actually began several portions ago and it takes up half of the book of Exodus.
Then, at the end of the portion, it doesn’t just say “Moses assembled all the parts and constructed the Mishkan.” Instead, it even goes into great detail on how Moses put it together.
So the question we have to ask is, why so much detail?
I think it’s because the Torah is teaching us that God is in the details. God’s in the big picture too, but where you really appreciate God – and life – is when you are close up, in the weeds, getting your hands dirty.
Here are some examples from one of my favorite things to do: basketball.
Of course, homework is my favorite thing to do. But basketball is my second favorite. Well, actually, cleaning up my room is my second favorite thing to do. Then comes basketball!
So here are three ways that help me to understand – from basketball – how God is in the details.
First, the game is so strategic. Lots of things happen that go unnoticed to the standard viewer.
While I was growing up, my dad often told me the phrase, “Stockton before Malone,” talking about the great guard and forward combination from the Utah Jazz. It was Stockton’s passing ability that allowed Malone to be such a great scorer. The pass that leads to the score. Or the pick that gets you open for a layup. Or the rebound that can start a fast break. The beauty of the game is in those details.
Another way that God is in the details is in the amazing ability of the human body to heal. I’ve come to learn a lot about it, because I’ve gotten injured … a lot!
Just a few weeks ago, when I met with the rabbi to begin working on this speech, he commented that he’s often seen me with a cast on or braces on my hand. Or the time I jumped off my sister’s bunk bed and fractured my leg.
Anyway, he suggested that I not play basketball for a few weeks. Funny enough, that weekend, I was playing and someone’s chin came down on my head and it cracked open. The good news is that is closed up pretty quickly and the better news is that Jews wear yarmulkes so no one knew.
Fortunately, while I’ve gotten injured a lot, every injury has healed. It’s amazing how quickly my body recovers. It must run in my genes – right Ruthie?
One more way that God is in the details – has to do with my peculiar fashion interest. I didn’t need to get a party dress for tonight, so instead I got a special pair of sneakers for the party. I have many pairs of sneakers and they are all different colors.
Just like the ancient cohanim, whose garments were crimson, purple and many other colors, my sneakers are blue, black, red, white, green, pink, and other colors. So since I’m imitating the high priests, mom and dad, can I wear my sneakers to services now?
There’s one more aspect of today that reminds us that God is in the details. Today is the second day of the second month of Adar. That’s right, the Jewish calendar does an entire month over again. It’s complicated, but basically, leap years fall 7 times in 19 years - we add a month each leap year so that Passover won’t eventually fall in July. Makes perfect sense!
For my mitzvah project, I’m donating to Sandy Hook Promise, an organization that reaches out to communities, schools and students and educates and raises awareness to help prevent gun violence. They also are using funds to develop and deliver mental health and wellness programs. Additionally, Sandy Hook Promise works towards passing sensible mental health and gun safety laws. Over 2,000 children each year are killed from gun violence.
I’m the same age as the 20 kids who were killed in Sandy Hook – and in fact I know one of the kids whose lives was saved. This would have been the year when they all would have attended bar mitzvahs or become b’nai mitzvah themselves. I’m dedicating my mitzvah project to them.