Noah Gonsenhauser - My Dvar Torah
My Torah portion is called Vaetchanan, which is from the 5th book of the Torah – call Deuteronomy. The Rabbi told me that I am very lucky to have this portion because it contains two of the most important texts in the Torah. There are only two parts of the Torah which have the Ten Commandments written down and this is one of them. It also has the Sh’ma which is one of the most meaningful prayers of the Jewish Faith. This portion is telling us about an important part of the history of the Jewish people. It is telling the story of how Moses leads the Jewish people to the Promised Land but he is not allowed to enter. He now has to hand over leadership to Joshua and is recounting what happened when he was given the Ten Commandments.
It was very interesting to learn about the different commandments and their meanings which up until now I had not properly understood. In particular the one that says you should not take G-d’s name in vain which I now know means that if you swear in G-d’s name you absolutely have to mean it. I think that today we make promises and swear with no real thought for what we are saying and what it means and we don’t really listen to what people say either. We are bombarded with advertisements that make completely false promises. I have been laughing at ads that tell you that using a particular product will make you look totally different and beautiful. No one really believes this and no one is really listening. Over 200 years ago if you made someone a promise it would be understood that you would definitely do what you said. If you told someone that using a particular product would make you beautiful they would definitely believe you and if would need to be true. I think we need to try and go back to those times in terms of saying what we mean and thinking much harder about what we say because I would like people to always believe me. It would also be very nice to know that what I hear is also true. No doubt in the future I will be a lot more careful about choosing my words.
I feel that my Torah portion has revealed a theme for me as I become Bar Mitzvah in that like the Children of Israel entering the Promised Land, I too am entering a new adult life as a Jew. It is also a crossing over for me.
Now the Rabbi has told me I should end with a joke but honestly after hours of searching the Internet I could not find one that was both funny and inoffensive!