Wednesday, June 5, 2019
TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Lexi Handel on Bechokotai
Those of you who know me know that while I’m so glad that so many of you are here, there’s one member of my household in particular who is unfortunately not here today.
I’m speaking of course about Oreo, my four-year-old dog.
When I first got Oreo at DAWS-Danbury Animal Welfare Society- I knew right away I was going to take her home right away. She was licking me and everything around us, and she was so loveable. (show picture of Oreo)
My love for Oreo has helped me to care for all animals and to understand how dependent they are on us.
That’s why I was so concerned when I saw an article a few weeks ago, where scientists are warning that a million species of plants and animals are at risk of extinction. Robert Watson, who chaired the study, said, “If we want to leave a world for our children and grandchildren that has not been destroyed by human activity, we need to act now.”
My portion of bechukotai explains that the actions of people have consequences on the whole world. It gives a number of horrible examples of consequences if people disobey the commandments. In one of them, it is that wild beasts will wipe out our cattle. It is hinting that the destruction of species is both a horrible thing and a consequence of human activity.
The portion also promises that if we obey the commandments, rain will come in proper amounts to water the land. On the surface it seems strange that following the mitzvot will make it rain. But in fact what this is saying is that if we act responsibly, we can protect the earth, and if we don’t – then the consequence is not just for us, but for the whole world. And the world includes animals and plants.
The curses get really bad, but the worst thing about it is not how bad things get, but that people lose hope. They don’t realize that things can be turned around.
I believe things can be turned around. Here’s what I am doing.
For my mitzvah project, I am donating to the dog shelter, DAWS, where I got Oreo. I have collected lots of dog food, leashes, toys, and other dog supplies.
If you would like to donate after today, you can go onto the DAWS website
As I become a bat mitzvah today, I know that it is very important not to lose hope, despite the many bad things happening in the world. And in its own way, I think the Torah is trying to teach us that.