Sinai Successes

Monthly Student D’var Torah

Sinai Temple is excited to have launched a new, monthly initiative as of June 2018! Once a month, a Sinai Temple post-B’nai Mitzvah student will provide his/her perspective on the week’s Torah portion, to be published in the weekly Shabbat Bulletin, available on Shabbat mornings at Sinai.

Below are the two student submissions we have published thus far (June and July). We hope that you enjoy these unique and insightful perspectives, from a youthful lens!

Former Alice and Nahum Lainer School Student

This week’s parasha happens to be one of the most well-known. The Torah turns the corner and determines who will lead the people of Israel. God advises the people of Israel of the proper process in handling the red heifer (the red cow that was sacrificed so it’s ashes could be used to purify those who have come into contact with a corpse.) Later in the portion, we find out that Miriam and Aaron, Moses’s siblings, have died. But the most well-known story is the following: Moses is fed up with the people of Israel wanting water, hits a designated rock instead of talking to it, and because of his disobedience of God, he is not allowed to enter Israel.

In my opinion, the main idea of this Torah portion is change. Change happens to just jump out of the page to me.  More specifically, changing the old so that the new can come in. God, throughout the Torah, is all-knowing. God sees what will happen in the future and might have caused some pivotal actions of the main characters in our Torah portion.  God may have had something do with Moses’ anger and the death of Miriam and Aaron. In helping Moses float down the river in Egypt, Miriam was a crucial player in helping Moses become a leader. Aaron was a crucial leader to Moses as well, helping Moses to talk to Pharaoh in Egypt. When his siblings die, all of the responsibility sits on Moses’ shoulders. This could be why Moses finally loses his temper and hits the stone. It also seems like God wants to completely move on from everyone previously in charge before entering Israel. Many rabbis explain that the entire reason the Jews wandered around in the desert for 40 years is to move forward, away from the enslaved generation. God even wanted to move forward without Miriam and Aaron. God chose to move the people forward so that the children of Israel could move forward as well. Thank you and Shabbat Shalom.


Incoming 8thGrader at Alice and Nahum Lainer School

if(covenant == true){Judaism();};

Moses wasn’t a game programmer, but if programming languages had been invented in biblical times, he probably would have been a coding ninja. In this week’s Torah portion, Vaetchanan, Moses gives a speech informing the Jews what to do when they get into the land of milk and honey. He says our pact with G-d “Is not a covenant with our ancestors, but with us, each of us that God commands.”

This summer I went to a camp where I learned how to code video games using the programming language C#. I created a virtual world and all the laws that govern it using computer commands. If the computer didn’t follow those commands – if it instead became some creepy AI trying to kill Sarah Connor – then the virtual world wouldn’t function.

Similarly, if we as Jews stop following the commands of G-d, then our world and religion also stops working. It is our responsibility to honor our pact, even if the system seems to be crashing. This Shabbat we remember the destruction of the Holy Temples. When  people destroyed our Beit Hamikdash, we had faith and we rebuilt our temple. And when people destroyed our Beit Hamikdash again, we still never gave up faith in G-d.

Moses warned of dire consequences if we don’t follow G-d’s commands. In the movie “Wreck it Ralph,” the video game characters have to stick to their assigned roles in order to keep harmony in their worlds. Ralph doesn’t want to follow his obligation and leaves his game. As a consequence his entire world falls apart.

It would be very easy for each of us to be like Ralph, breaking our code and forgetting G-d’s commands. We don’t, because our faith and our community are such strong parts of our identity. G-d’s covenant is not just with our ancestors. It is renewed every generation, with each of us.

The message of this week’s Torah portion is that it is our job as Jews in the modern age to remember our covenant and follow the commands of G-d, or else our religion will glitch out.

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