In September 2008, I delivered my senior sermon at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. It was Parshat Ki Tavo.
Each year, I look back on those words with 20/20 vision to see if the vision I put out for my Rabbinate and the Jewish world has come to fruition.
Our parsha encourages a life of Torah that will lead to a life of blessing. If we follow this path, “these blessings will come upon us.” As a graduating rabbinical school student, my classmates and I had ideals; hundreds of people listening to our words of Torah, students rushing into our classrooms to learn.
This is my Bar Mitzvah year of being a Rabbi. I tell our B’nai Mitzvah students in 13 years they must look at their words of Torah delivered as a 13-year-old and see how they are still relevant to their lives. And so I did the same this Shabbat. Seforno teaches the blessings occur when Torah is your principal endeavor. Thus, the blessings will be those that you did not actively pursue.
These last 13 years, there has been Torah study and teachers and students. But I have also witnessed Torah in our homes.
In 2008, here is a list of what was not included on a rabbinical school syllabus: How to prepare a hybrid High Holy Days, how to create a meaningful Zoom Bar Mitzvah, and how to officiate a virtual wedding and shiva. These events could only have been in our imagination. Yet today, they are part of the real structure of our Judaism, and I have witnessed the meaning of our Torah.
“The blessing have come upon us.” This Shabbat, find your Bar or Bat Mitzvah speech. The year may be different, but the message is eternal. Let the blessings pursue us.