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Josh Essl – D’var Torah

Josh celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on 3rd March, this is his D’var Torah

My Torah Portion tells the story of the Golden Calf, made by the people whilst Moses when up to the top of Mount Sinai to collect the 10 commandments from God.

Whilst Moses was away from his people for 40 days and 40 nights, the people got very restless and thought that he had abandoned them.  

So, the people walked up to Aaron, Moses’ brother, and asked him what to do?

Aaron told them to take off all of their gold jewellery and give it to him.  Now, what would you do if I asked you all to give me all your gold jewellery? I don’t think you’d give it to me! Yet, and perhaps to the surprise of Aaron, they did.  

When Aaron received the gold he melted all of it down together and made one big Golden Calf.

The people started to worship the Golden Calf whilst Moses was still absent.

Eventually Moses returned and saw the Golden Calf that the people had made.  This made him so very angry that he took the two tablets containing the 10 commandments and threw them on the ground with such force that they smashed in to a million pieces.

It’s a well-known story, but I think that the people were very impatient and did not trust Moses enough. He was only trying to look after the Israelites as they had just left the land of Egypt, and Moses wanted to help them continue the Jewish religion. It seems they had not yet learned to trust their leaders, perhaps because their previous leaders had been the Egyptians, who had treated them harshly as slaves.

I’m lucky that I’ve never been a slave and I have learnt to respect and trust my parents and the leaders both in our community and in my family. Maybe even one day, I may just be able to trust Alex too.

The Israelites were also impatient.  Me, I am the most patient young person you could ever meet!

As you can see from the looks on Mum and Dad’s faces, they both absolutely totally agree – or not, as the case maybe!

I am the complete opposite to patient as my friends and family can (posh word alert) testify.  

However, at this moment, I have learned that sometimes it is better to be patient, though it may be a few years before I actually do start to be patient.

Having just mentioned my brother Alex, when I saw him read and do everything for his Bar Mitzvah, he did so well that it made me feel that I could never do it……..but I have been forced to by ones’ mother!

Now that I have prepared the Torah reading, I have proved myself wrong, as I thought that I couldn’t do it. Through the nagging of mum and the shouting of dad, and the patience of Rabbi Richard, Rabbi David and Tony Kerstein, I think I am ready to get through it.

I have also learned about myself, that instead of just giving up, I should carry on.  When I concentrate and focus, I can get most of it right and that has made me feel much more confident.

Some of my friends have travelled or want to travel abroad to celebrate their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, but I think it is more nice and appropriate to stay in my Shule and celebrate with the people I know and the family I love.

Contrary to what you might think, this day is not all about me! The word Tzedakah, usually taken to mean Charity, in fact means ‘justice’. We are encouraged to do something for tzedakah alongside learning for Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

The Yoni Jesner Foundation is a charity that was set up in memory of Yoni aged 19 from Glasgow, an inspirational youth leader and role model who was tragically killed in a suicide bombing on a bus in Tel Aviv Israel on 19th September 2002.

I have recently completed my first Yoni Jesner award for services within the community. I earned it by volunteering at my local Maccabi youth group and helping the younger children during the school holidays.  I have also baked for the homeless and helped out at the Norwood Chanukah party held at my school.

I now aim to get the next level of award by more volunteering. When people become too focussed on themselves, I think that’s when they build their own ‘golden calf’. Through volunteering as part of the Yoni Jesner Award scheme, I’ve learned to think more about others. As I learn to be more patient, hopefully, I will also be of better help to others!

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