Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Rachel Fein on Vayikra

Shabbat Shalom.

This weeks parasha, Vayikra, discusses the everyday rituals that took place in the Temple of ancient Jerusalem. In-fact, most of Sefer Vayikra focuses on the importance of ritual. 

A main aspect of the temple rituals was the giving of korbanot, or sacrifices. They were sacrificed in order to express gratitude and remorse towards god, and different types of korbanot were brought at different times throughout the day. Many years later, the second temple was destroyed, and the Isrilates replaced sacrifices with prayer in order to maintain their connection with God. This shows that communicating with God is a very important part of our everyday rituals, and it is as true today as it was back then. As you can see on the cover of my booklet, there's a talk bubble symbolizing how important communication is to me as well. 

Ritual is also very important because it gives meaning to every moment in life. Aside from the korbanot, the book of Vayikra talks about many other rituals, like Shabbat, holidays, and dietary laws. All of these rituals help us lead lives that are meaningful and organized. I can relate to these daily rituals by the fact that they keep our lives organized – because as many of you know, I’m a very organized person. Anyone who has seen my locker at school or room at home, knows how organized I am. 

 The Cohanim, or priests, were also very concerned about neatness. You may not believe this, but they didn’t just put the sacrifice on the altar; they also cleaned up the ashes afterwards to make sure the altar was ready for the next korban. They understood how important it was to be organized, and they were very meticulous while performing each step of the ritual. 

I had to be meticulous while making 72 candles for my mitzvah project. As many of you know, I sold them at the Stamford JCC on Mitzvah Day. I also volunteered at the Food Bank and donated the $800 we raised. Just as I had to choose the colors and cents, pour the melted wax into molds, and wait for the candles to cool, the ancient Israelites had to pick the right animal, prepare and inspect it, and place it on the altar. Because each candle took hours to make we would make ten at a time, wait for them to cool, and do the exact same thing again. This process became our own ritual, and it took us four days of organized repetition to produce 72 candles. Once the candles were done, we lit a few during the power outage last fall. Just like the sacrifices, they went up in smoke quickly, after all that preparation. 

Also, in the ancient times, God made sure to leave meat to feed the Cohanim after a korban was burned. Similarly, the goal of my mitzvah project was to raise money to feed people who cannot afford food, like the Priests. Now that I am a bat mitzvah, I’ve come to understand, the importance of ritual and communicating with God in order to keep my life organized.

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