Sunday, June 26, 2011

A wonderful Bat Mitzvah Drash!!!!

One of the great joys of being a congregational rabbi is the fact that I get to work with young people preparing to become bar or bat mitzvah.  In preparation for their big day, every child works with one of our rabbis and writes a D’var Torah (torah interpretation) for the service.  Last Shabbat, a young girl named Syd shared a Midrash about her torah portion that she wrote herself.  I love how she was able to dig beneath the surface of the text to get to another level of understanding. 
Yasher Koach Syd – we’re proud of you!!!! 
Here's what she shared:
Shabbat Shalom!
I want to begin my D’var Torah with my own midrash. A midrash is a story that is about characters in the Torah. The purpose of a midrash is it teaches a lesson or it digs deeper into a story to find out who, where, or why a character in the bible acts the way they do.
Times were tough back then. Jews were slaves to Pharaoh. But then, a miracle occurred: Moses freed the people and led them out of Egypt. But Moses was a complete stranger to all the peoples he led out of Egypt. Korach and his family were part of this group. They were grateful, just like everyone else, but days, weeks and months went by eating the same food, and rationing water. After a while, Korach’s mom got very sick. A couple days later she died from dehydration. Korach took this hard. He started realizing that his dad was spending more time and paying more attention to his sister and brother than to him. That night when Korach fell asleep he had a terrible nightmare. He dreamt that his mother kept dying over and over again. The next day when everybody began praying to God to lead them out of the desert, Korach didn’t join in. He felt as if he didn’t exist in God’s world. All of Korach’s life he had never felt so hopeless and powerless to speak to God, and he became more bitter and envious of anyone who could. That is where the story of Korach begins.
My Parashah is about Korach and Moses. Moses was the leader at the time, so he was the only one who had a relationship with God. However, Korach didn’t agree with that arrangement. Korach stood up to Moses and claimed that he, too, wanted to speak to God, and that it wasn’t fair that Moses got all the power. Korach convinced two hundred and fifty rebels to start a revolution against Moses. Moses, troubled, fell on his face in prayer and then stood up to Korach and the rebels and said, “Come morning, the Eternal will make known who is God, and who is holy. If these rebels die naturally, then you will know that I do not speak for God. If they die unnaturally, then you will know I am telling the truth.”  The next day the earth opened its mouth and swallowed Korach, the two hundred and fifty rebels and all of their belongings. Moses remained in charge, and no one ever questioned his authority again.
I can understand some of Korach’s frustration. When Korach stood up to Moses claiming he wanted more privileges, his punishment was death. He got punished for standing up for what he believed in. I sometimes relate to Korach’s motives when I stand up against something that isn’t fair.  For example, if I, might “occasionally” get in trouble at school, and I think the consequences are unfair, I speak up. Just like Korach, my efforts are usually ignored.
What I have learned from my Torah portion is even if you understand why somebody does something, it doesn’t make it right. Life isn’t always fair! What is harder to understand is why Korach was swallowed by the earth, when all he wanted was a connection with God.

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