Intro (short summary, 3 sentences)
My text Chayei Sarah is in the book of Genesis, the first book in the Torah. Avraham was married to Sarah with whom he had one son, his name was Isaac. Beside, Avraham had a son with Hagar, who was Sarah’s maid. His name was Ishmael. Sarah didn’t want to have Hagar and Ishmael around her as she didn’t want the competition in her house. We can assume that this was also the starting point of the rivalry between Isaac and Ishmael and in addition of the split between Judaism and later Islam.
I have placed my focus on the relationship between the two brothers,Isaac and Ishmael. I wonder what would have happened in history, and also today, if the two brothers hadn’t become rivals, but instead would have become loving and supporting brothers. Maybe the world would be a much more peaceful place since there would be less reason for conflict.
What I found particularly fascinating is that when Isaacs and Ishmaels father Avraham died, the two brothers were able to come together and find common ground in order to bury him. This was probably possible because the death of a father is a very significant event. It even brings rivals in a family together.
Deepening (link to mitzvah)
The following fact I find amazing: All three major religions have only one g_d, namely Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, and in addition all three are stemming only from one single father, and that is Avraham. I think the development between Isaac and Ishmael shows that human beings can bridge their differences and work towards better situations for all. It also shows me that each one of us has a responsibility to work towards making difficult situations better. Be it in our family, solving problems in our communities, or on a larger scale in our countries. In my small space I asked myself what I can do to contribute and make a difference. This is when I decided to help my community in Hout Bay by spending a few days cleaning the Hout Bay Beach with other volunteers who had the same interest.
Conclusion (My bar mitzvah)
I think growing up means also growing in your responsibilities. Somehow it is about reducing the egoism and giving to others. After doing the beach clean ups, it really encouraged me to cut down on plastic usage in my daily life and try to encourage less plastic in my home. By now as a family we are refusing plastic bags in the supermarket, instead we are using reusable bags made out of cotton fabric. We also try not to use straws and avoid buying products that are excessively wrapped in plastic. Beside, when I see plastic at school I make an effort to pick it up.
I want to encourage all of you to avoid using plastic, pick up plastic when you see it in nature, and take good care of our environment. Each one of us can start today to make this world a better place. As Michael Jackson once said: It starts with you, The man in the mirror!