Wednesday, March 4, 2015

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Emma Ostrovsky on Ki Tissa

Shabbat Shalom!

I have always had an interest in fashion.  You might have figured that out already from the hot pink yarmulkes.

I have always felt that how a person dresses tells a lot about who they are and that every article of clothing has a story to tell.

This afternoon’s Torah portion, Ki Tisa, describes a veil that Moses used to wear because his face glowed after his encounters with God. The Torah does not tell us whether the veil was hot pink.  But I figure there is a fifty percent chance it could have been, because it had to be a color that would distract people from that glowing face.

As if that isn’t enough, this morning’s portion of Tetzave goes into great detail about the clothing worn by Aaron and the priests.  So between these two portions, this Shabbat is basically like New York Fashion Week for Jews.

The priestly clothes were extremely exotic and included a tunic, a turban, and a sash.  For me, that’s a pretty classy fashion statement.  But it could use a little something.

If I were designing an outfit for our ancient leaders, I would include platform shoes to give them height, a cool shiny gold vest, and of course, I would never design an outfit without throwing in a hot pink scarf.

Clothes can often tell us a story about who someone is. For example, people who wear bright colors seem to be more cheerful.  As a cheerleader. I know that most cheerleading outfits tend to be bright and colorful, which matches our spirit.

For some people, a simple necklace can tell us a lot about them.  For example, two years ago my grandmother gave me a necklace with a Jewish star, which I am wearing today 

My tallis also tells a story, as well as making a great fashion statement.  It belonged to my uncle Walter, who wore it as his Bar Mitzvah a few years ago.

And today, my dad, who was unable to celebrate a bar mitzvah back when he was growing up in Kiev, is wearing my grandfather’s tallis.  So I can appreciate the fact that I have the freedom to be able to wear this today, knowing what my family has been through.

My tallis, as you can see, is white with blue and gold trim.  Blue and white are Israel’s colors – and I have relatives in Israel.  I also have relatives in Ukraine, whose flag is blue and gold.  So this tallis reminds me of my family heritage and my Jewish roots.

Any discussion about fashion this week has to include the holiday of Purim, a holiday when Jews dress up in costume.   We wear masks on Purim.  Masks hide your face but in some ways they also allow your true personality to shine through.  Clothing plays an important role in lots of Jewish holidays, including Yom Kippur, where it’s customary not to wear leather, and Shabbat, we put on our best clothes to welcome in a very special day.

So as you can see, clothes are very important to becoming a Jewish adult.  So that is why I feel it would be a mitzvah for my mom to take me shopping next week. 

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