Sunday, September 27, 2015

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Douglas and Nathaniel Herman on Ha'azinu

Douglas and Nathaniel’s Dvar Torah
BOTH- Shabbat Shalom
D- Hi, I’m Douglas
N- Hi, I’m Nathaniel.  But I’m sure you already knew that.
D- But here’s something I bet you didn’t know…. We’re twins!
N- But despite the fact that we’ve grown up together, we have very different interests.
D- For instance, I like the Yankees.
N- And I like the Yankees.  I also like math.
D- And I like…MATH!
N- But one thing we both like is remembering our childhood…
D- …since our child was so long ago For instance, there was our trip to Disneyworld when we were six.  It was a perfect trip. Some “ special” guide kept getting us the front of the line. The rides were great.  Everyone thought our Dad was a famous sports reporter from Florida.  Nothing at all went wrong.
N- although for our parents it may not have been quite so much fun.  Our siblings were kvetching a lot since they were one year old at the time…
D- oh yes and one of us threw up on the plane.
N- OK so it wasn’t perfect after all, but we remember it that way.
D- That must be what Moshe had in mind when he says in our parasha:
ז  זְכֹר יְמוֹת עוֹלָם, בִּינוּ שְׁנוֹת דֹּר-וָדֹר;  {ס}  שְׁאַל אָבִיךָ וְיַגֵּדְךָ, זְקֵנֶיךָ וְיֹאמְרוּ לָךְ. 

Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations; ask thy father, and he will declare unto you, your elders, and they will tell you
N- According to Rashi, the verse means….
Remember the days of old: means, remember what God did to past generations who provoked God to anger.

So Rashi is saying that the olden days were pretty bad, and we need to learn our lessons from the past.
D- But most people tend to say that these were thee “good old days”-, well, just about everyone who is older than us, especially our dad –he always likes to talk about the past and history.
N – As for the two of us, we NEVER disagree.  But there are some things that we think were better back “in the day,” and other things that are better today… 
D - In the past, we didn't have cell phones, home phones or any sort of device to talk to one another from far away which is a disadvantage compared to what we have today.
N - But in modern times, phones can also be a disadvantage because there is unfortunately bullying and rude messages and pictures posted on social media, while in the past, there was none of that. Today, my brother and I commit to continually being  allies and  upstanders to any and all bullying that we see or hear.
D- Actually, there was bullying in the past.  Last year we read “Tom Sawyer,” and there was plenty of bullying there, even without texting and social media.
N – What about education? Was it better before we had all this new technology?  I think it was, because people had read more books and were able to focus on real life and appreciate each minute more than when you are staring at a screen all the time.
D- I think it’s better now, when you can look things up on Google and have all this information at your fingertips. 
N - Were bnei yisrael better off in the days of Moshe or in our day.  I think we were better off then, because it must have been so exciting to have received  the Torah. Hashem made the world just and right. Mans shortcomings had not come to life yet.
D- Much better today!!! Why?  Because we have so much more history to be proud of and we can  live very meaningful and rich Jewish lives.  And because we have great Jewish day schools!
N - … with great principals!!  (pause)   Our Dad likes to say that people were more street smart and book smart back then.   That’s because people read more, but also because they spent more time out in public and less online, and they had more experience dealing with other people.
D -  I think it’s better today, because in schools such as ours at Bi-Cultural  they teach us how to deal with difficult situations before we face them and how we can be an advocate and a leader.
N- I think the most important question is this:  Were sports superstars better back in the day or today? 
D- I think “back in the day.”  Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio and Sandy Koufax were all better than anyone playing today.
N- I agree.  And now, sadly there are steroids to inflated stats (Hi A-rod and Roger Clemens!).  Equipment wasn’t as good. and at Yankee Stadium it was 460 feet to center field!
D-… But Babe Ruth didn’t have to face 95 mile an hour fastballs from fresh relievers in the late innings.
N- We could ask lots more questions, like were people nicer back then? And does older always mean wiser?   But all in all, Moses was right, Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations.
D - Just as we put the Torah back into the ark, we sang the “hashivenu” where ask God to “renew our days as of old.”  Does that mean to make today as good as the good old days…
N – Or maybe that the memories we create today, as we become B’nai Mitzvah, we be stories that we will tell again and again for the rest of our lives.  Today will be remembered as the “good old days” as soon as the moment we wake up tomorrow. We are committed today to be a part of the change to make the world a better place and to stand for democracy and the State of Israel.
D- For our mitzvah project, we have volunteered at the Friendship Circle wrapping presents for the birthdays of kids with special needs.   Moving forward, we will continue to volunteer there. Volunteering at the Friendship Circle provides both joy to those receiving the gifts and joy to us for being able to help others.

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