Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Hackenbroch, Mum, Dad, Family and Friends. And Mazeltov to the happy couple celebrating their Ufruf.
Today is the ‘Great Shabbat’!
The great Shabbat was when Moses told our ancestors to take lambs, which were the most sacred animal to the Egyptians, and threaten to sacrifice the lambs in preparation of the Plague of the Firstborn. This was a very brave thing for the Jews to do, because the Egyptians thought of the lambs as holy.
This caused an uprising of the first born Egyptians, who wanted to let the Jewish people be free, because they - the Egyptians - did not want to die, and this was the beginning of the preparation of the Exodus.
This shows us that, going against authority, when you know that you are right, does not always lead to bad consequences, and can change the future for the better!
We see this throughout history, with strong characters such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Malala Yousafzai who stood up to the majority and fought for what they believed in. They played a role in changing society for the better. They did not accept that race, gender or religion were a barrier to basic human rights.
My namesake in the bible, Naomi, was a similar character. Both of her sons married non-Jewish women, and instead of dismissing them (when her sons died), because they were different from her, she recognised the strength of character that her daughter in law Ruth had, and Naomi played a major role in Ruth becoming a shining example of Jewish womanhood.
There are many strong women in Jewish history who have played very important roles in changing the future for the better. Michal (which is my middle name) was daughter of King Saul and wife of David (who would be the future king). She was stuck in the middle of two very powerful people who resented each other. Michal played an essential role in protecting her husband from King Saul, whilst keeping her father (the King) happy.
But, to me, the name Michal represents a further example of fighting against difficulty. I was named Michal after my uncle Mark who was given only a few hours to live when he was born in 1960. But through his great courage, scientific research, the will of Hashem, his enormous love of life and sense of humour, he managed to last 42 years.
I never met my uncle Mark, but he is a big part of my life and I wish to carry his legacy on through generations, not just by name, but with his stories that will be passed on.
Like Naomi, I hope to always look beyond how people appear to me and not define people by their race, gender, colour or religion.
Like Michal, I hope to have the courage to stand up for what I believe is right, even if there is strong opposition.
And I hope to touch as many lives as my uncle Mark did.
Naomi, Michal, and my uncle Mark, all had a great influence on other people for the better. However, they were not recognised, by the majority, as great people. Going forward, as I enter into this next stage of my life, as I begin to take on the responsibility of adulthood, I accept that it is not important to be known for doing good, but it is important to do the right thing and what you believe in regardless of who knows.
As I now become bat mitzvah, I hope to follow in the footsteps of my namesakes; to stand up for what I believe is right, without the expectation of reward.
I would like to thank the people who have helped me reach this point in my life: my parents who have inspired me to always do the right thing, my grandparents, aunts and uncles who are always there for me, the Woodside park cheder where I have learned about my Jewish heritage, Elisheva Birnbaum for helping me with my Dvar Torah, and my friends and family, who are here today, and who have given me the support and confidence to enter into this next stage of my life.
Shabbat Shalom everybody, and I hope you have a great Pesach!