Hello everyone. Shalom. First I would like to thank all of my friends and family for coming today in honor of my bat mitzvah. A bat mitzvah is when a girl turns 12 and she is ready to take on the responsibilities of a Jewish adult, and I am ready to do so.
Dear family and friends, right now I would like to share with you a special story about me. It was the first night of Pesach, Passover, and it was the year that we had gotten our new puppy, Molly. As usual, my dad went to hide the afikomen, the matzah that we eat for desert, my brother Elliott, my sister Leah and I waited anxiously to be able to go search for it. I was hoping that this year I would finally be able to be the first one to find it. When we were aloud to start searching Elliott, Leah and I started racing about the house. Finally, after looking forever I decided to look behind the big flower pot. "I got it!" I shouted so happy that for the first year I had actually beaten Elliott and Leah, but as I was holding the bag with the afikomen it felt a lot lighter then it was supposed to. I decided to look into the bag and to my surprise, the afikomen wasn’t there. I rushed to my mom and dad and said it wasn’t there. We were all very confused and started looking throughout the house to see where it could’ve gone. Suddenly Leah says, "I found it!" the rest of us went go to the living room to see how the afikomen got there. There on the floor is Molly with afikomen crumbs around her, she had found it and eaten it. After that we decided not to hide the afikomen on the floor, and ever since that day Pesach has always been one of my favorite holidays.
Now I will talk about the message in today’s torah reading and Haftorah. Both deal with good triumphing over evil. I recognize the many dangers facing the world today. Now that I am officially a Jewish adult, I also understand the responsibilities for my thoughts and actions. I would like to share with you some moral lessons and advice I have learned from today’s biblical chapter.
The torah potion for this week is called Balak, is about the evil king Balak and the wizard Balaam. They are part of a non Jewish tribe, The Moabites. The Moabites, long standing enemies of the Jewish people, were always out to destroy innocent people. They were full of hatred and jealousy. The Moabites wanted to curse the Jews and to take away their power in the Middle East. Balak, the Moabite king, instructed the wizard Balaam to help him in his plan to curse the Jews. Balaam was considered a prophet; he represents the archetype of holy men, who want to curse Israel. He represents as leader, who is high and mighty, and looses his perspective. As we read, G-d comes to Balaam as a talking donkey to foil Balak’s plan, Balaam refuses to listen to G-d. Miraculously, Balaam is not able to curse the Jews. Instead, he sings their praises and Balaam’s words enter the Torah: "How good are your tents Ya’akov, your dwelling places, Israel".
In my haftorah portion, from the book of the prophet Micah, we also learn many valuable lessons. Micah was born in a rural village, he was known as the prophet of the poor. This is because he championed the rights of the peasants and broken- hearted people. He put down arrogant people who lived in cities, and flaunted a life of luxury. He criticized social and religious leaders who stole from the poor, stressing that they should be role models of goodness and truth. Micah believed that as the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians, Jerusalem would share the same future. Nevertheless, Micah had faith that Israel’s mission was to be an example of good and humanity to the world, he hoped for peace. Like another famous prophet, Isaiah, he foresees the future when "The nations shall change their swords into plows and then wars will end." He has also given the world a true definition of religion he stated, "What doth the Lord require of thee, to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with G-d."
These biblical examples say, to do good and to not speak evil. In Hebrew this is called lashon horah. In the torah portion we are reminded to look past people’s faults and instead to focus on their good. In the haftorah portion we also learn the importance of not putting other people down just because you think they are lower than you. My mom always told me, "If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all."
Family and friends, I hope that we can all follow ethical and humanitarian goals. I pledge, as a bat mitzvah, as an official adult standing as a proud member of the Jewish faith, that I will do my best to help make the world a better place and to continue to uphold our heritage.
At this time I would like to thank everyone who has made this day so special for me. First, I would like to deeply thank my mom for helping me with my speech and for taking me to synagogue on Shabbat. Thank you for always being there when I needed you and supporting me. I love you so much. Leah and Elliott, thank you for being there for me. Thank you Elliott for driving me to Hebrew school and waiting for me to finish my studies with the Rabbi. Leah, thank you for teaching me the prayers and tunes that I needed to know for today. I love you guys. At this time, I want to thank the Congregation’s President, Mrs. Shirley Aronson, and the Vice President Mrs. Lore Singerman for all that they have done for Kneseth Israel and our family. I would like to thank my Hebrew school teacher Morah Ayala Phyterson, you have taught me so much this year in Hebrew school. Also I want to say a very special thanks to Rabbi Weisblum for teaching me everything I needed to know, and encouraging me to prepare for today, I am very grateful to have you as a rabbi.
Lastly, I would like to thank all my family and friends who have traveled from far away. It means a lot to me that you are here today celebrating my bat-mitzvah with me. Now, everyone is cordially invited to a delicious kiddush following the services. Shalom.