I would like to start off with all the "thank you's", I would like to thank everyone for coming to my Bar Mitzvah. I really appreciate it. I would also like to thank the people who wanted to come, but had prior arrangements, or had another reason that they couldn't come. I would also like to thank my mother. She is the best teacher I have had with my Hebrew studies and she never gave up teaching me, even when I wasn't behaving. I would like to dedicate my Bar Mitzvah to her because she had never had the chance to have a Bat Mitzvah when she was young. Girls weren't allowed to then. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be up here in front of you. I'm sorry that my Softa couldn't make it today. I know that she would have wanted to.
I would like to thank Rabbi Margaret, who I took classes with. She helped me with my studies. I would like to thank my Dad, my friends and my relatives for helping everyway that they could. I would also like to thank the Weekly Minyan, and everyone else in the community.
Now I will talk about my parshah. The story of Korach begins with the Jewish people in the desert. Moses and Aaron were approached by Korach, who was a Levite (this was important because Korach was already higher rank than most the of Jews). Also Dathan, Abiram, and 250 men were with him. These men accused Moses and Aaron of taking too much upon themselves. They also accused them of thinking that they should have more power than the rest of the people. When Moses heard this, he fell upon his face.
Moses answered, "G-d will pick who G-d wants to be leader. Take your fire pans, put fire and incense in them and bring them to G-d tomorrow." (Lighting fire pans was one of the jobs of the priests.)
Moses replied to Korach, "You take too much upon yourselves, sons of Levi! You are already higher than most people, because you are a Levite." Moses called Dathan and Abiram and they ignored him and wouldn't talk to him or go to where he was. They accused him of lording it over them. It was a very disrespectful thing to do.
Moses talked to God about this matter. Moses said, "I have not taken one ass from them. Neither have I hurt one of them." The 250 men and Korach took their incense and their firepans and stood in front of the tent of meeting with Moses and Aaron. Korach assembled all the Jews against them at the tent of meeting.
So G-d told Moses and Aaron to separate from the rest of the Jews, so that G-d could consume all the Jews in a moment. And Moses and Aaron fell on their faces and said. "G-d, if one person sins, do you punish them all". Moses told everyone to get away and said, "Here is how you are going to know that this is G-d's doings and not mine. If these men die the common death of men, then G-d has not sent me. But, if G-d makes a new thing, and the ground opens her mouth and swallows them up, with all that pertains to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you can understand that these men have despised G-d." At the end of his words, the Earth opened up and swallowed Korach, Dathan, Abiram, their families and all their possessions. And fire came forth from G-d and incinerated the 250 men with their firepans. The firepans then became holy, because they were touched by G-d. But the people still didn't learn, even though they saw dramatic miracles of fire from G-d and the earth devouring people. The next day, all the congregation of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, asking why they had killed all those people. The people still thought that Moses was creating this magic. G-d was mad. G-d said again to Moses, "Get you up from among this congregation, so that I may consume them in a moment." Moses and Aaron fell on their faces again. God made a plague that would kill all the doubters. Aaron ran between the dead and the living and stopped the plague. 14,700 died from the plague.
There were still some who doubted Moses and Aaron's leadership as chosen by G-d. And G-d told Moses, "Tell the children of Israel to take their rods to the tent of meeting, one for each of the tribes with their tribal name on it. And Aaron should write his name on one rod also." By the next day, Aaron's rod had grown buds, bloomed blossoms, and bore ripe almonds. Then the people believed that God chose Moses and Aaron to lead them. Sometimes quiet miracles are more powerful than huge, dramatic miracles. The rest of the parshah is about rules of the priesthood.
One of the things that Margaret and I talked about was Moses' physical appearance. Was he short? Was he tall? Was he skinny? Was he overweight? Was he blond? Was he brunette? Did he have facial hair? Was he muscular? And then there are the mental characteristics. Was he super intelligent? Was he shy? Was he serious? Was he very strict? Who knows? Nobody will probably ever know. But here is my opinion about these questions. When Moses was in Egypt, I always pictured him as the strong muscular man that could slay the biggest beasts. And I think he might have had a short temper. After all, remember when Moses killed the Egyptian? But that is not where my theory ends. I think while Moses was with God, he must have changed. Because in my mind I picture him as a short, heavy man with a long beard who was very shy. You can tell this because he falls on his face a lot. This brings up another question. What does "he fell on his face mean"?
In Korach, when Korach accused Moses of taking up too much power, Moses fell on his face. Moses fell on his face two other times also.
Here are the possibilities of what he did when he fell on his face:
Maybe Moses was so angry about what they said, He went down on the ground and threw a tantrum. I think this was in place of clobbering them. See, I think if Moses had had the same personality and build that he had in Egypt, then he probably would have killed them.
Maybe Moses was scared that G-d was going to get angry at these people. If Moses was scared for the fate of Korach, then he probably went on the ground and begged G-d to forgive them.
Maybe Moses was just a clumsy person that stumbled a lot. Or maybe, he was so upset about what Korach told him, that he wasn't watching where he was going and he fell.
Maybe Moses was so shocked by what Korach had said, that he fainted.
Maybe Moses was possessed by G-d. What I mean is that G-d took over Moses' body and mouthed the words through Moses. I spent a while studying this topic with Margaret, and it was fun and interesting. I used a Concordance which is a book that you use to look up a particular word and it tells you every place in the Tanach where that word is. I also looked in a chumash, and I read some midrash. I also read a lot of commentary.
One of the things we looked up and found was that Eliezer fell off his camel (same word in Hebrew) when he saw Rebekah at the well. I used to think that this was different than Moses falling on his face. Maybe, Eliezer fell off his camel because Rebekah was very pretty. I believed that until recently. I was laying in my bed one night thinking about Parshat Korach. My mom and I had just read it and it was fresh in my mind. All of a sudden, something hit me. I got up and told my mom. Could be that that falling on your face was a signal from G-d? Maybe Eliezer fell off his camel as a sign that Rebekah was the right woman to pick for Isaac. I contemplated this in my mind for a while and tried to compare this theory with Moses. It fit! Well, at least I think so. When Moses fell, maybe it was a sign from G-d to not do anything and talk with G-d first. Or... The possibilities swarmed in my head. Then I came to a conclusion. Maybe G-d was in each of the people's bodies Who fell off their camels, on their faces, etc. And G-d was sending some sort of sign. I think that whenever someone falls on their face, there is a sign from G-d.
A very important thing that happened in my Judaic life was my conversion. I was adopted when I was 6 so I had to be converted. When I was 8 years old, I went to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in 1993, on the 3rd of Tamuz, 5753. It was an odd experience at first. I mean, wouldn't you feel uncomfortable being naked in a room with people that you have never met before in your entire life?? I was excited about going, but I had nervous thoughts about it. I went into a room, kind of like a steam room only bigger. There was a shower stall where I showered. The people who were in the room with me helped me say a b'rachah (a man commented that I said the "chuft" sound correctly) and then I stepped in the mikvah till water was up to my neck. Then I had to dunk my head three times. Each time I dunked, they yelled "kosher". But, I had to dunk another three times because my hands were on the rail and that would not count. The conversion was a great experience for me because it made me Jewish. Even before my conversion, the first time that I went to services I remember, when I was 6, that Gabe Berent had told me that Hebrew went from right to left. I remember that I had said: "That's impossible. You read it this way". I made a line with my hands indicating left to right. Then everyone else said that I was wrong . I remember I said , "I knew that, I was just testing you!"
By having my Bar Mitzvah, I am telling everyone that I will stay Jewish for the rest of my life. I would like to thank my parents for getting me to this point. Thank you for coming.
Copyright 1998 AP
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