Thursday, May 9, 2019

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Zachary Lew on Kedoshim

Shabbat Shalom!

Those of you who know me know that I have an interesting hobby – I love to build things.  I started building with Legos when I was about 2 or 3.  What I liked about them was that anything was possible.  Out of nothing, you could create something amazing. 

Some of the things I have built include, an Apollo 11 spaceship, which is standing in my closet right now and a James Bond Aston Martin, which gets fifty miles to the gallon.  Just kidding.  It gets forty.

But the thing about building with Legos is that you can only do it one block at a time.  When I am building something I just think of it and then I start to build.  I don’t always know how it will look in the end.  But I keep on building, block by block.

It’s not just Legos.  I even create things out of duct tape.  Like shoes, a backpack, a vest and about a hundred different wallets. (Here’s one I made a while ago). I am actually a member of the Duct Tape Club at school.  I tried to open a duct tape business a while ago.  Let’s just say it didn’t go too well…

My portion of Kedoshim teaches about a different kind of building – building a better world. 

It contains a long list of laws called the Holiness Code – Kedoshim means “holy.”

And to be holy means to live a more caring life and be a better person.  Some examples from my portion are laws teaching us not to harm strangers, hate anyone, carry a grudge or steal; also, to give food to the poor from the corner of your field, and, the most important of all, to love your neighbor as yourself.

But just like with Legos, it’s hard to see the final product when you are just starting out.  And it’s easy to give up after only a few steps.

When I was building my Apollo project, it took a couple of days and was not easy. At times I considered giving up – but not really.  I know that lots of people look around and a see a world that is far from perfect.  But my experience as a builder teaches me that even though you can’t see the final product until the very end, you have to have the confidence that you will get there.

Theodore Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, said, “If you will it, it is no dream.” He said this fifty years before Israel was established, at a time when very few Jews lived there and the land near Tel Aviv was all sand dunes.  He couldn’t possibly have imagined what it would later look like.  But just fifty years later, there was a Jewish state. Israel’s Independence Day was the day before yesterday. I was once in Israel, when I was four.  I remember that I went to the Dead Sea…and I swallowed some! I don’t remember what happened afterwards, but I assume it wasn’t good.

Israel is a place where the Jewish people have returned to build a nation.  It hasn’t been easy – but they are building it, one block at a time.

For my mitzvah project, I am teaching STEM to second graders at the Boys and Girls Club of Stamford every Monday. A big part of it is building things together with Legos.  It’s really fun to see them laughing and smiling the whole time. The Boys and Girls Club aims to encourage kids to become good people, so that they in turn will help others.

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