I hope you will join with us at services on this Shabbat as we celebrate the bat mitzvah of Dahvi Hochman. Mazal Tov to Dahvi and to her entire family!
Some thoughts connected with the celebration of a bat mitzvah and this particular Shabbat…
This morning, on one of the TV talk shows, I heard a discussion about a study that claims that 77% of Americans do not consider themselves to be superstitious. Interestingly, none of the people participating in the discussion on that talk show seemed to agree with that statistic. In fact, they all spoke of one form or another of superstitious behavior that they have seen among their own family members and friends, or that they themselves do…!
Within our own Jewish tradition, we often hear that we do not directly count people, lest something bad happen…So, when we want to make sure we have a minyan at a particular prayer service, we might recite a Biblical verse that has ten words to see if we are able to conclude the verse as we look around the room. That way, we associate each adult Jewish person with one of the words of the verse, rather than assigning a number to each person who is present.
While our people were still in Egypt, during the final plague before the Exodus, God passed over the Jewish households, without counting them, even as the angel of death visited the homes of the Egyptians. Passing over Jewish households, even without counting them, was a powerful demonstration of God’s love for our people.
Similarly, when we are children, and we are not yet counted in a minyan, this does not mean that we are not loved. We are! But, as we reach the age of bar and bat mitzvah, we are both eligible to be counted in the minyan and able to give so much more of ourselves and to enter a new level of engagement with Jewish life and community.
This week, as we read the special maftir for Shabbat Shekalim, we read of the gift of the half shekel, contributed for holy purposes, that was used as a way to count our people as they continued their trek through the desert on the way to the Promised Land.
Whether we are superstitious or not, being counted (whether directly or indirectly) and being able to give back to community is a privilege and a joy!
Let us all celebrate Dahvi’s bat mitzvah, as she is counted for the first time, and may we all enjoy the love and the devotion of each and every one of us, children and adults, elders and youth, as we come together to be a part of a wonderful Jewish community!
Rabbi Gilah Dror
P.S. Rosh Chodesh Adar will be on Wednesday night, Thursday and Friday of this coming week. May it be a month of great joy and happiness for all!
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