Bat Mitzvah Speech
Shabbat Shalom everyone.
The Parshawe have been reading in shul today is ParshatVayeira. It tells us the story of AvrahamAvinu, our forefather Abraham. His story began in last week’s portion, LechLecha, when we hear about how he left his home and birthplace to travel to a strange land, then having to pick up again and leave for Egypt, after his new home suffered from Famine. We hear about the struggles he had with Pharaoh in Egypt and about the covenants that he made with G-d. He was told that he will have offspring so numerous that they will be like the sand and the stars. Also, that his children will inherit the land of Israel. He had a Brit Mila, circumcision as a sign of his commitment to the covenant.
Our Parshastarts whilst he is recovering from his Brit Mila, and we find Avrahamsitting in his tent waiting for visitors so that he can perform the mitzvahof Hachnasat Orchim, welcoming guests. This brings us to one of the most important attributes of Avraham. His chesed, his kindness. He should have been home, lying in bed recuperating, instead his primary objective was to be able to help others. Not just a little. He went above and beyond, serving his guests, the three angels disguised as humans, with the best meal, the finest delicacies he could offer. He didn’t ask his many servants to help him, he did it himself. We see his lovingkindness further on in the parshawhen he is told by the angel that the cities of Sodomwould be destroyed. He took it upon himself to try to negotiate with G-d to save the cities. “If there are 50 righteous people, will you save it in their merit, 40? 30? 20? 10?” G-d agreed on all counts, but there were not enough righteous people to save the city, although Abraham tried as best he could to help others.
Another attribute of Avrahamthat we see throughout his lifetime is his resilience, his ability to overcome difficulties. He doesn’t give up, no matter what life throws at him. We are told in PirkeiAvot, Ethics of our Fathers, Chapter 5, that Avrahamwas given 10 tests and he passed them all. There are different versions of what those 10 tests actually were, but they include all types of physical, mental, financial and emotional hardships. Picking up and leaving his home, suffering from famine, having the King try to marry his wife, not just once with Pharaoh in the land of Egypt, but again with Avimelechin the land of Gerar, not being able to have children, having a Brit Mila at the age of 99, having a difficult son like Yishmaeland having to kick both him and his mother Hagar out of the house, being told to sacrifice his son Isaac. He went through every type of suffering imaginable, and not only did he make it through, he made it through stronger, thriving. Instead of saying, “That’s it, I give up!”, he found reserves of strength that not only built him up to be the role model that we know, but it solidified his Emunah, his faith in G-d to an even greater extent.
This leads to the third attribute of Avraham’sthat I feel is so important and that is his Faith and Loyalty to Hashem. We see throughout Avraham’slife that it was this faith that carried him through. It wasn’t just that he did what Hashem asked of him because he was frightened of the consequences should he not. He followed G-d’s commandments because he loved G-d and wanted to be close to Him. He had faith in G-d in a way that many of us find impossible to believe, much less to achieve. This faith is something we can only strive for in small ways, using Avraham as a role model.
There are three attributes of Avraham that I Have chosen to focus upon:1) His Chesedand Kindness 2) his resilience and ability to never give up and 3) his Faith in G-d.
As I am now a Bat Mitzvah, I am making an effort to become more aware of the important issues that have affected the Jews throughout history, such as the Holocaust. That is why I have twinned my Bat Mitzvah with a young victim of the Holocaust, Amalie Hus. She was killed before this milestone in her life. I realise that I am very lucky to be able to enjoy this special day with my family, friends and the community.
I am trying to live up to some of the incredible attributes of Avraham, that I have seen from some of my other awesome role models in my life. I watch my amazing mother as she collects donations for WIZO each year. I look at my wonderful father doing security for shul on Shabbat, in all kinds of weather (occasionally helped by my bringing him some whiskey from the kiddish). I realise what magnificent examples they are to me, in how to contribute to the community.
I also look to my Grandfather as an example of resilience, when I hear stories of his life throughout the war and even with his loss of hearing from the bombs that fell around him, he was able to draw strength and thrive , despite any suffering. I also look around at my community and I see all of us here in Synagogue. Strong in our faith. My Rabbis and teachers are role models who teach me about the beauty of our Jewish traditions, keeping our beliefs alive throughout the many generations, even when it is not so easy. My parents who have brought me up in a Jewish community and sent me to Jewish schools to be able to continue with those traditions that Abraham our forefather showed us many years ago.
Thank you to all my friends, family and the Woodside Park community, for sharing in this simchaand making it even more special.
I hope that I can learn from all of you as my role models, along with the examples of our Forefathers and Foremothers on how to act with kindness to others, be resilient and to always have Faith.