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Weekly D'var Torah June 21

D'var Torah

Parashat Beha’alotcha

by Ezra Lehrer, Bar Mitzvah

 

My portion is from the book of Numbers and is called Beha’alotecha which literally means “when you raise up” and refers to the lamps that were illuminated in the ancient traveling sanctuary. This is a very long and complicated portion with many plot twists. The part I find most interesting describes how the Israelites were given a second chance to offer the Passover sacrifice. If they were on a long journey and missed the time to offer the sacrifice, or if they came in contact with a dead body and therefore became impure and could not offer the sacrifice, the Torah tells us they were given a second chance in the following month. This is known as Pesach Sheni which means Second Passover.

I really love this idea of having a second chance in life. In this way, the Torah is teaching us that mistakes are not forever; one mistake can’t completely mess up the rest of your life. This is very different from the US justice system. Once you are convicted of a crime your entire life is messed up and this idea of having a second chance is not part of our current system. Even if you get out of jail the system is not set up for true rehabilitation. I think this is because prisons are a business and many of them are privately owned, and they make money for longer stays and for repeat offenders so there is no financial incentive to rehabilitate the prisoners. I think this is very unfair, and I wish the US prison system incorporated the idea of second chances.

In Jewish culture there is a lot of emphasis on second chances. We hear about this idea especially on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with the process of teshuvah which means return or repentance. Each year we have the opportunity to reflect on where we missed the mark and try to do better in the new year. I really appreciate this aspect of Judaism.

I think this idea of second chances is not only about being given a second chance in life, but it also might be teaching us to give certain situations or circumstances a second chance. Last year I wasn’t very into Hebrew school. I found it boring. This year I decided to give it a second chance, and I liked it a lot more. My mom was the one who convinced me to try again, but she ended up being right, and I really enjoyed the topics we discussed this year in Morah Mel’s class. Some people say you always have to give the slot machine a second chance so maybe they are on to something! Maybe life is like a slot machine you have to keep trying until you hit the jackpot or run out of money and give up.

This process of becoming a bar mitzvah has been a bit annoying but also fun. Learning everything for my bar mitzvah ceremony was easier than I expected it to be. I most enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment. Now that I am a bar mitzvah I am excited to be done with all the studying but look forward to learning more about Israel in greater depth next year during Teen Chayim.   I am excited about my bar mitzvah celebration and can’t wait to party with you!

Fri, June 21 2024 15 Sivan 5784