The verses that I chanted this morning from my Torah portion, Kedoshim, talk about the basis for the Ten Commandments, the building blocks of Jewish society and law. Without the Ten Commandments, there would not be any real laws for the Jewish people. Without the Ten Commandments, there would be chaos for the Jewish world, as shown in my Haftorah portion, Amos.
The laws in my Torah portion talk about what I call good sense--things you should already do to avoid problems in life. But, to make life easier for a lot of people, God has mapped out the rules for us to follow because he wants us to be good. God has made it as easy as possible for us to succeed in life, by giving us a cheat sheet of rules to follow and guide us on our way. It makes following the Ten Commandments a lot easier than you may think. If your math teacher gave you a cheat sheet with all the answers to a test, it would be a lot easier to get a hundred percent on the test than without the answers. At this point, you may think that it would be easy to follow the Ten Commandments, and yet not very many people follow all of the laws all of the time. There aren’t many people who have never lied, or stolen anything in their life. Even if you never stole a cookie, or you lied about doing your homework, there are other rules you may have broken. The few people out there who have never broken any rules are probably succeeding in life. And the main thing that you might notice about those people is that they feel good about themselves.
But even though you might have stolen or lied, it doesn’t mean that you should go into despair. There will be a next time, when you can make a different decision, and follow the rules… sort of like preparing for my Bar Mitzvah.
My parents and teachers said that I had to study, but whether I did it or not still was my choice. Although in the beginning, I studied above and beyond, I started to slack off when I was supposed to be learning my Torah portion. Even though I made some not so good decisions about my studying, fortunately, I still had time to fix things. So, I studied a lot lately, and I hope it paid off.
I’d like to take a moment to thank some people that helped on my way to success. I’d like to thank Rabbi Harry for coming all the way from New York to do the service today, and getting me off to a good start with my Torah studies. I would also like to thank Michael for teaching me my entire Haftorah and Torah portion, because without him I don’t know what I’d do. I would also like to thank him for the extra copies of my tape and portions, when I misplaced them. I’d also like to thank Robin for taking the time to sit down with me and discuss my Torah portion and help me with my speech.
In my Torah portion it says, and I quote, “Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father,” which I do. So, in fear, I’d like to thank my Mom and my Dad, for their patience, for driving me everywhere, and for being confident that I could pull this off. It doesn’t say that I have to fear my sister, but I love her, too, so I’ll thank her for having to put up with me. Last, but not least, I’d like to thank everyone for showing up here today to share this moment with me. Shabbat Shalom.