Tuesday, June 1, 2021

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Wesley Levine on Shelach Lecha

Good morning.  Happy Memorial Day.

Welcome to my Bar Mitzvah

You might be wondering, what is a Bar Mitzvah?  I have asked myself the same question.  Bar means son but in this case, it also Means responsible and Mitzvah technically means god’s commandments.  So today, by reading from the Torah, I have fulfilled the ritual of accepting responsibility for god’s commandments.  And since I am 13, I am supposedly mature enough to be able to do this.  

So now let’s talk about today’s Parsha Shelach. Moses sent twelve spies to the land of Canaan. Forty days later they return and ten of the spies warn that the land contains giants and warriors more powerful than them.  Only Caleb and Joshua insist that the land can be conquered. God then states that the Jew’s entry into the land shall be delayed forty years, during this time that entire generation will die out in the desert and a new generation will be born. The Parsha concludes with God commanding the Jews to do mitzvot like making challah and wearing tzitzit. 

Now, what does this portion tell me specifically? It tells me that the spies were afraid of change.  Moving into a new land is a big deal.  This tells us a lot about that generation of the Jewish people.  They were still fresh from slavery in Egypt and afraid to establish themselves in a new land.  And they also put no trust in God to guide and help them.

I can relate to this Parsha and how, like the Israelites, establishing myself in a new land as well.  As most of you know, lived in Stamford for most of my life and just moved to Greenwich last year.  This was a big change because I switched schools, towns, houses, places where I played sports, and even daily routines.  All this during a global pandemic.  I feel very lucky that COVID didn’t affect me, my family, or my friends negatively and that I have been safe throughout it.  

The lesson for me is not to be afraid to try something new and trust yourself to be resilient.  My dad is always pushing me to try new things and not give up. Thanks to him I now go to travel basketball, soccer, and play tennis even though I was reluctant to do them at first.  Meanwhile, I pushed him to send me to Central Middle School when I was ready for public school and ready for change.  With the school year almost over, I am really happy I made the change.  I have made new friends and experienced a new school.  

I think we can all benefit from the lessons of the Spies.  We can all be a little more open-minded and open to new ideas, new foods, a new style of clothing, or visiting a place you would never visit. 

For my bar mitzvah project, I am choosing to support the Stamford JCC.  The JCC is an important part of the community.  I have been going there since before I can even remember. I did swim lessons there, went on the playground, did after school, and played basketball. They have shaped the person I am today and I want to ensure everyone can access the JCC for many years to come. I am going to be chairing a basketball fundraiser there and I would love for you to come play and have fun while supporting the JCC.  The money we raise will help fund basketball and other scholarships for those in need.

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