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Joseph Berk - Dvar Torah

My Torah portion, Vayetze, is about Jacob's journey from Canaan to Haran, which is now known as Iran. On his way he has a dream where he realizes God's plan for him, as well as God’s awesomeness. Jacob falls in love with Rachel but Rachel's father, Laban deceives him by making Jacob marry his eldest daughter Leah instead. What was worse for Jacob, is that he had to work for 7 years if he was going to marry Rachel, without being certain of his wages. He then had to work another 7 years as he married both daughters even though he only loved one, Rachel. We also learn in my Torah portion of Jacob's God-given intelligence leading to his great wealth. For me I'd like to focus on Laban's tricking of Jacob. Why did this happen? The reason why Jacob embarked on this journey was because he himself was guilty of tricking his brother, Esau into taking his father, Isaac's blessing by disguising himself as Esau. This theme is commonly known today as, Karma or, what goes around comes around. So God punished Jacob's trickery by tricking him through Laban. There is a Hebrew saying, "Midah k'neged Midah" which means, actions have consequences. For example, if you post something on Facebook which hurts someone else, without considering that it might hurt that person, then that person might tell someone else and that person might tell someone else until, it comes back to you and you might get hurt. The small action has had terrible consequences for one person. This has taught me to not do something bad to someone because it might go around and come to me and they might hurt me. Rabbi Akiva in the Talmud teaches that the whole Torah can be summed up in one sentence - what is hateful to you, don't do to anyone else. And it's not just about humans. It's about animals too. We are supposed to keep them safe and look after them, but some people don't take responsibility for this, and for this reason, the Mitzvah I chose for my Barmitzvah was to wash dogs at the SPCA. Sadly we have recently heard the charity shop on the premises that generates R60 000 per month for the SPCA burned down. I have decided to donate 10% of my gifts to help rebuild this shop. If anyone here wants to join me in this, I encourage them to help. One thing that I have learned from this whole process is that you can study for exams and for a bar mitzvah at the same time. There were times that I thought I would give up and cancel the barmy, but now looking back, I am really proud that I pushed through. I learned that even when you think it is impossible, it's not. I also found studying my Torah portion and learning about the forefathers and what happened so long ago to be interesting to me. I want to know what things looked like back at the beginning before cellphones and laptops and how it all built up to now, me here on this bimah celebrating my bar mitzvah. And Dad, I hope that you are never going to try to marry off Jemma disguised as Holly - it just won't work! Shabbat Shalom

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