Shabbat Shalom Rabbi, family and friends.
It is such an honour to be standing here today, on the day I am Bat Mitzvah.
My name is Yael and I go to Immanuel College. I am very proud of my school where I get to learn more about Judaism and the Jewish Nation which I feel so lucky to be a part of.
I find learning about the Jewish people interesting because it is not just a subject I learn at school, but also links into everyday life and helps me to get closer to Hashem and to understand my identity.
In my spare time I love to go on roller coasters and I play a lot of sport, especially netball. The aim of playing netball is to work as a team to get the ball inside the hoop more times than the opposition do. When I thought about this in more detail I realised that this teaches us all an important lesson.
In netball, every person playing has a different role. For example, I play wing defence. My job is to stop the other team from scoring. But, even though we all have a different role we all have to work together to achieve our aim, scoring a basket and winning the match.
The world is also made of all different kinds of people, but it is important to always remember that we have to have respect for everyone, no matter whom they are or where they come from and to work together as a team. Now that I am Bat Mitzvah I am part of at least two wider teams: that of the Jewish People and that of all humanity.
But what does being Bat Mitzvah really mean?
As a Jewish woman, I am now responsible for how I choose to act, and what paths I take in life. It is a very important part of a Jewish girl’s life. Being Bat Mitzvah is not just about taking on Jewish laws but also living a Jewish way of life.
This week is a double Sedra. First we read Parashat Hachodesh which the rabbis teach us commemorates Hashem giving us the Mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh.
Rosh Chodesh is the name given for the 1st day of every month in the Hebrew calendar.
The rabbis teach us that it is the first commandment that Hashem gave to the Jewish people when they were still slaves in Egypt.
Whilst learning about Rosh Chodesh I wondered why it is said that Hashem chose that Mitzvah, out of all the other mitzvot, to be the first one given to the Jewish people.
Why not Shabbat or the rules of keeping Kosher?
I learnt that Rosh Chodesh teaches us that we are in control of our own time. We were told about Rosh Chodesh when we were still slaves in Egypt and had NO control over our time. It is said that the first lesson that Hashem wants to teach us as a people, is that we are responsible for the way we manage OUR time. As a Bat Mitzvah girl I now have to make sure that I use my time wisely and take opportunities given to me and use them in the right way.
This led me to think about what I have been told about why Judaism’s calendar is based around the moon and not the sun?
What lessons can we learn from the moon?
The sun does not change greatly and does not appear to get bigger or smaller, but every month the moon goes through a cycle where it seems to change size. Just when it seems to be at its smallest and the sky is at its darkest that is when the moon starts to enlarge and fills the sky with its bright light. The moon reminds us that no matter how dark it gets there is always hope that things can get better and brighter from that point on.
The 2nd Parasha that we read this week is Parasha Vayikra.
It is here we learn about the various different sacrifices which the Jews had to bring to the Temple.
All the sacrifices had to be ‘salted’ before being offered. One interesting law is that you cannot put honey onto the sacrifice but you can put salt. The rabbis teach that this is because honey would cover up the flavour and changes it but salt brings out the flavour.
This can be interpreted as teaching us that in life we should never try to change ourselves just to be like someone else. Instead we should realise how special we are and realise our own potential. Every single person is unique. We all have different qualities, strengths and weaknesses, and we even all look different.
So why did Hashem make us all SO different?
The rabbis teach us that we all have a unique part to play in the world. Now that I am Bat Mitzvah, I have to try and make sure that I am using my all my gifts and qualities to make me an individual acting in the right way. That way I can play my part in the Jewish Team and the wider team of the human race. Hopefully that way I can contribute something special.
I wouldn’t be who I am today without my loving family which I feel so lucky to be a part of.
To my parents, thank-you for always being there for me and being so supportive with such strong moral values.
I would also like to mention my teacher Gaby who has taught with me these past few months. She has guided me whilst writing this D’var Torah and helped me to learn my responsibilities as a Bat Mitzvah. I would also like to thank Rabbi Wayland for the interesting Bat Mitzvah programme he has run this year.
Now that I have started on my journey as a Jewish woman, I have to think about all these things carefully and to take responsibility for my own actions and for my own beliefs.
It is lovely to see you all here today celebrating my simcha with me.
It really means so much to me and I wish you all a SHABBAT SHALOM! ☺