My Torah portion is called Emor and it’s found in the book of Leviticus/Vayikra.
It’s about sacrifices in the Sanctuary (or the Mikdash in Hebrew) and how the Kohanim needed to be in a state of ritual purity to offer them.
If they came into contact with a death, like when a relative died, they were not allowed to offer the sacrifices. They had to go into quarantine.
Now it is no longer the Bible times but in modern living we also have to make sacrifices. At this very time we are all making huge sacrifices due to the Covid-19 virus and the lockdown that has been imposed around the world. Many people are suffering.
For example, since lockdown was imposed on 26 March we have to stay home all the time and can only go out to buy essential goods like food and medicine.
Until last week we could not leave our homes to exercise, nor can we go to school, and my parents have not been able to go to work. Since the end of March all my Barmy and school lessons have been online.
For the first 2½ weeks I could not visit my dad.
I have not been able to do any extramurals – like mountain biking, swimming, and water polo.
My birthday was in full lockdown so I was not able to celebrate with a party and friends.
We have had to cancel my Bar Mitzvah ceremony in shul and there will be no Brocha with family and friends afterwards. I was really looking forward to this occasion.
I would have wanted my aunty, Dee and her family to come to Cape Town from Florida for my Barmy. Also, some of my dad’s family from Joburg would have come to my simcha. But now friends and family will have to watch the ceremony online.
There are other ways that I have sacrificed stuff for my barmy. I have had to put in the hours of Hebrew study and practise every week to prepare the prayers, Torah and haftarah readings. I could have been swimming or seeing my friends.
I am aware that there are many people out there who are making even greater sacrifices because of Corona - people have lost jobs and many find it hard to even get food.
I find it very symbolic that the beginning of my Torah portion describes what happens in the event of a family member dying. Everyone knows that my older brother Rohan died tragically from Cancer 4 years ago. I don’t think that the fact that this opens my parshah is a coincidence as this event had a big effect on my life. Rohan’s death has altered the course of my and my family’s life. I looked up to him and enjoyed the advice that he used to give me. I wish that he was still around especially now as I become a man and he would already have been a man.
It is our family ritual to go to Rohan’s grave each year on his yahrtzeit and this year we could not, as the cemetery was closed due to lockdown.
Today is my bar mitzvah. It’s strange to do this all online, but we are in a strange time right now in the world and I will definitely remember this for the rest of my life.
2020 is the year of my Bar Mitzvah, I am 13 years old and the phrase “social distancing” has new meaning in my vocab.
The sacrifices that I’ve had to make during lockdown have made me really very grateful for the most basic things that I always took for granted. I am very grateful for the food my mom prepares, for the large space that I live in when other people have very little or no food and only a one roomed home for their living space.
Thank you to Rachel and Bronwyn for helping me to prepare for my Bar Mitzvah every Tuesday afternoon for the past year; to Rabbi Greg for discussing my parshah with me and my parents in detail and also for helping me with this Dvar Torah.
And to mom and dad for the planning that went into day even for those plans that had to be cancelled.