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Parashat Re’eh: Teen Dvar Torah

We are pleased to share Adam Bloom’s Dvar Torah from his recent bar mitzvah. 

As the bird has the sky and the fish has the sea
The parasha Re’eh is made for me.

There was a choice between blessing and curse
And the path of the Israelites could go into reverse
So Moses showed a symbolic demonstration
And also some major justification
for worshipping God
Not a simple wooden rod

When in life you are confronted with sorrow
Remember your blessing might take place tomorrow…
Good morning, and welcome to my Bar Mitzvah 🙂

My parsha begins:

See, I set before you blessing and curse: blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your G-d that I enjoin upon you this day and curse if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your G-d…”

While wandering through the desert, the Israelites began to lose faith in Moses and G-d. So, Moses explained and showed the Israelites how staying with G-d might be more difficult, but would produce better results in the end. For example, if some of the Israelites decided to leave the group, those Israelites would probably die of thirst, because they were in the desert.

According to the 11th century Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, better known as Rashi, Moses is telling the Israelites about blessings and curses that will be pronounced in the future, after the people come to the land of Israel. The 12th century Rabbi Moses Maimonides, the Rambam, disagrees, and says that Moses is talking about the blessings and curses that occur when we keep or choose not to keep the commandments.

In Hebrew Re’eh means “See!” “Open your eyes!” Moses is saying “Listen to the mitzvot! See what you should do. I’m giving you the choice: the blessing or the curse.” Some people learn by seeing and some people learn by hearing; some learn by doing. Moses is asking people to use all their senses.

Re’eh or “See!” might also mean that we should really look at people who keep the commandments. According to the early 19th century Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yechiel Michel Weisner, the Malbim, if we just look, we can see that they feel better about themselves and grow spiritually. And according to the late 19th century Rabbi Yehuda Leib Alter, the Sfat Emet, the real message of this verse is that if people really listen hard, they can pick out the important things to hear from all the different messages we hear every day.

Only people have free will. Only people can choose between the blessing and the curse. In my opinion free will doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want.  I think it means you can only do some things being limited by physical ability and consequences.  For instance if you jump off a building you will most likely die. Maybe free will is a choice, something you have to decide to take rather than something that can be given to you. And if you are choosing something important, you have to really think about what you choose.

In our current economy, with the financial deficit, many people view this as a curse, but in a way, people are being brought together. It is a blessing to have a home, a synagogue, friends, and family. All these things that we tend to take for granted and most of the time we see the glass half empty- a curse but we should see is how much we have, making us feel lucky and grateful even to just have been born.

We have a choice to be a pessimist or an optimist, a Tigger or an Eeyore, an Elmo or an Oscar the Grouch. This is our free will.

We make choices all the time.

For example, I went for a night hike with my school and we had a choice to have risk and a blessing of enjoying the darkness, or turning on lights and ruining the whole experience.

You don’t always feel like the ability to choose to feel happy is yours, but sometimes you can make yourself feel happy by reading something that you like or watching a funny video on line.

Even a pen, which is basically a simple tube of ink, has limitless potential for both blessing or curse, because the pen could be the root of all positive or the root of all evil in our world as we know it today.

Sometimes a blessing can come from a curse; at camp this year I learned how to skip rope while riding on a unicycle, which truly was a blessing, but I got hurt a lot during the process, which was a curse.

While in Florida with my Grandmother, I spent an entire week at camp as a counselor in training and I learned two things; 1) camp is expensive babysitting, and 2) kids 5 through 10 are almost impossible to control.  Now I could look at this as a curse, but I believe it is really a hidden blessing because I learned a lot about how people function.  I learned blessing and curse is not just a physical choice, it is also a mental choice.

As an adult I would like to be an honest and respectful person who tells it how it is, and someone who is careful while making decisions.  I also want to be the type of person who tries new things and has respect for all opinions and religions.  I like to imagine my future self as a productive, kind, and giving adult who does charity.  I also want to be thankful for things such as my Bar Mitzvah, my family, and my whole Synagogue.  I think that having a Bar Mitzvah was a blessing, and as an adult I would like to recognize it as so.

This year I volunteered at Frazier Meadows, a local retirement home, and learned all about the residents and how they are a very important part of society, and that they have tons of stories to share, and sometimes I feel as if we take this for granted and don’t realize that they won’t last forever.  This is why I love volunteering there this year.

Working for this Bar Mitzvah has sometimes seemed like a curse. It was a lot of work and took time away from friends and Boy Scout events (which I really love dearly). But, in the end, this is sooo worth it. What a true blessing to have accomplished so much and stand here in front of all of you. Thank you for being here.

Yasher koach, Adam! Boulder Jewish News encourages Bar and Bat Mitzvah students to submit their d’var torah for publication, so that the community may learn from our young adults. Information about Mitzvah/Tikkun Olam projects is also welcome. For more information, please email editor@boulderjewishnews.org.

About Froma Fallik z"l

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