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Guest Teacher!  -   Find the Mitzvah that Speaks to You!

03/21/2023 05:25:51 PM


Chava Yeta bat Aryeh. v'Aliza Avigayi

This week's D'var Torah is presented by our recent Bat Mitzvah who provides a very powerful and meaningful message about spirituality: find the Mitzvah that speaks to you and make it into the wings that lift you!   

The name of my parsha is Vayakhel-Pekudei and it concludes the book of Exodus which tells the story of how the Jewish people were rescued by G-d from slavery in Egypt.

After being freed, the Jewish people traveled to Mount Sinai and were given the Torah, G-d’s laws and teachings for making a better world.

To lead us in our journey through the desert and through history, Moses was instructed to build the Mishkan, or tabernacle, a sanctuary that could be folded up and then be set up again at each encampment.  During the journeys, we would study the laws of the Torah, make offerings, celebrate our holidays and pray.  Now, our Mishkan is our synagogue.

The Jewish people were told by G-d to go to the Promised Land, Israel, and to follow the laws of the Torah.

There are six hundred and thirteen commandments in the Torah.  The Rabbi told me that each commandment is a different way of connecting to G-d and making the world a better place.

Of all of the commandments, I want to tell you about the one called Tzar Balei Chaim, or kindness to animals.  The Torah says that when G-d created people, G-d placed them in the world in order to preserve and care for all of the living creatures. To me, this means that one of our purposes on this planet is to protect and care for animals. For example, I have two dogs Max, and Porkchop. When I see them, all I want to do is pet them and care for them. Not only because they are so cute, but because they rely on me for food, water and shelter. I get animals and they get me.

This commandment speaks to me more than the others because ever since I was a little kid, I have had a special bond with animals. Some would even say that I like animals better than people.

We are told to be kind to animals in many ways.  I wanted to share just a few of the laws of Tzar Balei Chaim that stand out to me.

  • Jews were the first ones to show concern about animals and the environment.  No other ancient people have laws about these topics. This is particularly important because animals and humans share this planet together, what we do to one affects the other.
  • When you find a nest with a mother bird, you can’t just take the eggs.  You have to shoo away the mother bird first.  This makes sure that the mother bird won’t have to see you take the eggs. I like this rule because no parent would like to see their baby being taken away from them. Although I don’t think my parents would mind somebody taking me, I know deep down they love me.
  • Jewish law does not allow us to cause animals pain and it commands us to help them if we see them in pain. Even though most of us eat animals, Jewish law commands us to limit the amount of pain we cause animas when they are slaughtered.

All of this is because Torah teaches that G-d is the true owner of the world not us.  G-d gives us the world as a gift to use and to share with others.  Using animals in a cruel or inconsiderate way is acting like their feelings and suffering don’t matter.

My lesson for you to take home about the Mitzvah of Tzar Balei Chaim is all living creatures share the same home and how we treat each other affects all of us. If we do not respect this planet and other living things, they won't respect us back. In other words, a little kindness can go a long way.

Wed, April 17 2024 9 Nisan 5784