Wednesday, March 4, 2015

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Benjamin Goodman on Tetzave

Wonderful winter we’ve been having, isn’t it? If you haven’t heard, I have been appointed by Rabbi Hammerman as Temple Beth El’s top (and most accurate) meteorologist. I’ve been following weather patterns since I was 8, and this has been one of the worst winters ever (kids who don’t like school, might call it one of the best winters ever!)

I’ve been amazingly accurate this winter in my predictions using various models such as the GFS, also known as the American Model, the ECMWF, the Canadian Model, and the European Model. Yes, I did predict a 2-foot snowstorm before the “Historic Blizzard,” but I downgraded my forecast as models trended toward a less snowy storm.

My Torah portion is called Tetzaveh, and it focuses us on how technology can help us to make the right choices. I honestly thought this portion fit me pretty well, because not only do I love meteorology, but I also love to play and even create my own video games. For example, I made a game about 2 years ago called “Coin Chasers.” The main goal was to get through mazes and find your way to a key that would unlock a door to the coin you were seeking.                                    

Even though back in my portion they didn’t have advanced technology like we do today, they did have something that they called Urim and Thummim. The priests to determine what God wanted used these tools. For instance, if they were about to go out to fight a battle, they would use the Urim and Thummim to ask God if the weather was favorable. I would usually look at different weather models to predict what a storm would drop when and where. They would use the Urim and Thummim. Either way, they would be able to make an educated decision.

There is a Jewish side to technology. Rabbi Avraham of Sadigora, who lived in the 1800s, once told his Hasidic students that they could learn something from everything: “Everything can teach us something, and not only everything God has created. What man has made has also something to teach us.”

“What can we learn from a train?” one Hasid asked curiously.
“That because of one second one can miss everything.”
“And from a telegram?”
“That every word is counted and charged.”
“And a telephone?”
“That what we say here is heard there.”
          As technology continues to change our lives so rapidly, it is important to remember that change has been part of life for a long, long time. The key is to use these new technologies to become better people and build a better world.

                For my Bar-Mitzvah project, I worked with a cancer organization called Little Wonder. Little Wonder is an organization that helps people with cancer enjoy themselves a little bit as they go through treatment. They buy tickets to local sporting events, shows, and other entertainment. Little Wonder is currently working with 15 hospitals in the state of Connecticut. This Mitzvah project is dedicated to my grandparents Beverly and Fred, who I never met because they both passed away from cancer before I was born. I raised over $180 by having people bring in $3 at school and thanks to you, my family and friends; I was able to achieve my goal of raising $1000 in total. 

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