Shelach Lecha Batmitzvah
Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Yitzi, Family, Friends and the congregation of Woodside Park Synagogue,
I have been preparing for this special day by discovering what it means to be Bat Mitzvah and learning this week’s Parshah Shelach leacha.
The name of the Parshah, "Shelach Lecha" means "Send for yourself" The name gives a clue as to what is happening in this portion. It has been more than a year since the children of Israel had left Egypt, they had received the Torah and were ready to enter Israel. Even though God himself had promised them the land of Israel for generations, they still doubted Him and wanted to send in spies.
Moshe asks God what to do and God replies I don’t want you to send spies but if the Jewish people want to, I will not object. Hence the title of this week’s Parasha “send for yourself”. So Moshe sends twelve spies to the land of Israel. Forty days later they return, carrying a huge cluster of grapes, a pomegranate and a fig, to report on a lush and bountiful land. But ten of the spies warn that the inhabitants of the land are giants and warriors “more powerful than we”; only Caleb and Joshua insist that the land can be conquered, as G‑d has commanded.
Rashi comments on the wording of this verse saying this shows they had bad intentions from the start of their mission.
From here we learn how important it is to check in with ourselves to make sure we have purity of heart when we make choices.
Before the spies made the mistake of reporting badly on the land of Israel and scaring the Jewish people about going into Israel, the torah calls them “anashim”
Rashi explains this means good, respectable people. When the spies left, they were all anashim yet they met a bitter end for themselves and the generation they led astray as a result of acting on their negative thinking.
I can see how important it is to have purity of heart when making choices in life but what do you do when you have made the wrong choice?
The answer to this question lies in Joshua and Caleb’s response to this story. Firstly, let’s take a look at Joshua, before he left Israel, his name was Hoshea which is the same as the Hebrew word Joshua, Moshe added a “Yud” to his name so it translated to “Hashem will save you” He knew that Joshua would really need Gods help in this mission fraught with negativity.
The Torah also speaks about Caleb, and that he took a detour alone on the trip to go pray to God to not get influenced by the other spies.
From Joshua and Caleb, we learn the importance of choosing faith over fear, that choosing the right path isn't always easy. Sometimes, we find ourselves standing at a crossroads, faced with different paths to choose from. It could be deciding which after school activity to pursue or which group of friends to hang out with at the weekend. These choices may seem small, but they can have a big impact on our lives.
Choosing the right path means making decisions that align with our values. It means considering the consequences of our actions and thinking about the long-term effects. But let's be honest, it's not always easy. We often face challenges and obstacles along the way that make the right path harder to see.
Sometimes, the right path requires us to step out of our comfort zone. It asks us to take risks, try new things, and face our fears. It might mean standing up for what we believe in, even if it's unpopular. It could mean working hard when things get tough. Choosing the right path often demands courage and determination.
But here's the thing, even if it's not easy, choosing the right path is worth it. As Joshua and Caleb showed when we make choices that align with our values, we feel a sense of fulfillment and happiness. We build character and learn important life lessons. We grow and become the best versions of ourselves although we might not all go on to lead the Jewish people
Mistakes and setbacks are a part of life. Sometimes, we may stumble and take the wrong path. We're all human, and we learn from our experiences. It's important to remember that we can always change course if we realize we've made a wrong choice. It's never too late to make things right and get back on track.
Donating your time for a special cause is a key part of Tzedakah, and something I have learnt a lot about during my studies. For this reason, I decided to get involved with the charity MyIsrael who connects donors with 18 inspirational causes in Israel which would otherwise go unseen. A few weeks ago, I joined 2 friends in a 12K triathlon to support 2 of these causes, Beit Daniella which is a recovery day centre for youth struggling with mental health issues and Pesia’s Kitchen who rescues produce from restaurants, corporate catering units & supermarkets to distribute to shelters, old age homes and other needy populations
I am extremely privileged to be named after 2 very special men, my Mum’s Papa Phil, for which I get my middle name Pippa, and my Dad’s Grandpa Kenneth for which I get my Hebrew name Kaila. So it was an even greater honour to be twinned as part of the Yad Vashem Bat Mitzvah project with another Kaila.
Her name was Kaila Krochmalnik, and she was born and lived in Vilno, Poland in 1931 to parents Avraham and Doba. Not much else is known about her life but she died age 12 in Auschwitz. I will light a candle for her every year to help keep her memory alive.
I have learned a lot studying for my Bat Mitzvah, my journey taught me about the Torah, and also learn the importance of Tzedakah which led me to support Yad Vashem and MyIsrael.
I hope to take the lessons I have learnt into my future as a Jewish Woman, thank you for listening.