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Parashat Beha’alotcha: Teen Dvar Torah

I am pleased to share Chava Kornfeld’s Dvar Torah on Parashat Beha’alotcha from her recent bat mitzvah at Congregation Bonai Shalom. 

by Chava Kornfeld

Everyone has their own special light or who they are that they bring into the world. How do you handle your light? Do you need help with it? How do you let yourself shine?

My parsha that I learned about for my Bat Mitzvah is B’haalotecha which means “in your going up, or ascending”. It really refers to the Aharon the High Priest and his sons lighting the lights of the Menorah, allowing the sparks to go up! For me, to go up means to have my goodness go up to God. My goodness is to make people happy, comfortable, and have a fun feeling. With my humorous, loud personality, I am able to accomplish this. The parsha starts out with Moshe a.k.a. Moses going into the Holy of Holies, the special room to talk to God in the temple, to get the final instructions on the menorah. The menorah had to be made of completely pure gold which had to be sculpted perfectly and hammered so intensely, or in Hebrew, “ mikshah zahav”. This took a ton of work to make it that perfect. To make something special for God you have to put 100% into it. This demonstrates that you need to put your best into everything even if it’s not for God. For me this shows that I have to put 100% into school, voice lessons, and I had to put a ton into my Bat Mitzvah. In order to help let my light shine, I need to put my best into everything I do.

Many people are confused about why Moshe has to go into a holy room to talk to God. I think it is because Moshe needed to focus in a good environment to talk about important things like the menorah. We all have a place where we are able to focus. If it’s your office, bedroom, or even a special place in nature, we all have one. My place where I can focus is in my bedroom. I am able to clear my mind with my iPod and relax. The place where you focus can also be a place where you feel most comfortable, have a clear mind, or work productively.
Next the parsha talks about how the Levites have to be purified for building and taking down the Mishcan a.k.a. the portable temple.

The parsha also talks about the cloud that hovers over the Mishcan. The cloud doesn’t only protect the Mishcan, but all of the Jewish people as well. During the day, the people are protected by a cloud and a pillar of fire during the night. Why, you may ask, is a cloud symbolized to help the Jews through the desert? One answer is that a cloud is both physical and spiritual and is a connection between heaven and earth. By heaven and earth I mean God and the Jewish people. The cloud also is a symbol of Gods presence, ananei hacavod, the Clouds of God’s glory. God has the clouds move when its time for the Jews to break up the camp and move. I can relate to this in a way. One important thing to learn in life is to know when to move on. In many cases you have to move on from something good. For example, when I visit my Bubbe and Zayda, the vacation always goes by really fast and I never want to leave the fun in Austin, Texas. But I find a way to move on. I think about the good things I got to do and accomplish, and remember that I will get to go back and visit them again. In other cases you have to move on from something bad. For example, when you’re in a major fight, you’re not sure most of the time when you have to move on. I know it’s time for me to move on when the fight gets a little better. It doesn’t have to be the whole situation just a little part that has improved which shows it’s a good point to leave it behind. Some situations don’t get better, they may even get worse. For me, this can be sign from God telling me that I have to just move on from this situation. Sometimes it could be that in such a terrible situation you could try and make it better but it just gets worse and you just have to move on. We don’t have the cloud anymore, but we have signs when things get worse or better from God. We just have to know how to interpret the signs!

Ramban, otherwise known as Nachmanides, the Medieval Spanish commentator, explains the need for so many examples of long and short encampments and journeys in the Torah. “Even if the cloud remained for a long time at a site that the people found inhospitable, they submitted to God’s will. Sometimes the people may have wanted a long rest from a difficult journey, but the cloud stayed in place for only a number of days, and then moved on.” What Ramban tells us is that sometimes it’s not even your choice when you want to move on. Even if it’s been a long difficult journey and you want to choose what to do, it’s not always your choice. Maybe there are important lessons we need to learn by moving rather than staying, or by staying rather than moving. When you want to stay and let your light shine, you can’t always know where you belong without the “clouds”.

So here is where I link moving on and bringing your light to the world. Sometimes where you are or what you’re doing doesn’t fit with you light. Many times you try your hardest to make your light fit. For example, I have had a teacher who didn’t like me and I tried and tried to make him like me. I gave them cookies and tried to not talk during class and make comments, because I thought they didn’t like my loud and outgoing personality. I learned that it’s really hard to move on and stop trying to make the situation better and I just needed to accept that that teacher didn’t like me. But in other cases you do need to make the situation better. Like how it took 100% work and focus to make the menorah, pounding out the gold into its special form. When you are trying to handle your light you need to be able to put your 100% into yourself and to discover, how and where to let your light shine.

As I become a Bat Mitzvah, I am starting to find my job in the world. I have to find the right job that fits my light and lets it shine. Also as a part of stepping into the real world of a Bat Mitzvah, I will experience many good and bad things that I’m going to have to move on from. Like I said, I’m going to have to make the right decisions. I know it’s a scary world out there and I’m going to have to know the right places and times to shine. I can’t wait to discover who I am, and find the right way to bring my light into the world.

The people did not break camp immediately after the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle. First, the cloud moved from the Tabernacle and hovered over the camp. Then the Trumpets were sounded and Moses would announce “arise Hashem”. And they would begin the journey. When it was time to stop and make a new camp, the cloud would arrange itself over the camp like a tent. Then Moses would announce, “Return Hashem, to the thousands of Israelites”. Rashi, the famous French commentator on the Torah, who even created his own language of writing, says that even when the Jews did not want to move and continue the hard journey the clouds had them continue. Many times you don’t know what to do and you need to ask for help. So instructions come to you, similar to the cloud. I don’t know nearly as much as my mother and father. Many times I act like a know-it-all and don’t ask for help. But they always know what I need and how to help me. Just like how the clouds helped get the Jews through the desert. It might have even taken another forty years just to get through the desert with all the long stops the Jews wanted to make, instead of just following the clouds. I know I wouldn’t be able to get through life without my mom and dad.

This concept of knowing when, where, and why to shine is a key concept to life. The clouds did help the Jews in the desert, but we also must find our own direction ourselves. Having help is very important but you just need a little “push” to get you headed in the right direction. There are times when God gives us the signs about moving and not moving. When God doesn’t show clear help there are always the people who are there for me. So when you feel like you do need another “push”, I bet there will always be a cloud there for you. For me, I know all of my family, like my mom, dad, Elie, and Larry would and all of my friends Dawn, Samara, Keren, Tara and many others will all be there for me. All of these special people in in my life allow my light to shine.

Yasher koach, Chava! 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.

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