Aidan Raphael - Dvar Torah


Vows

My Torah portion is a double one called Matot-Masei. It covers a whole lot of topics from vows to war, staying in quarantine after someone dies and the negotiations between the leaders of the tribes of Ruben and Gad and Moses. They wanted good land for their cattle and Moses wanted them to help the Israelites when they crossed into the Promised Land. In the end, both sides need to compromise with each other to make the situation work. The thing that I was most interested in was the first part about keeping vows. My Torah portion says: “If a person makes a vow to G-d or takes an oath, they can’t break their pledge; they must carry out everything that has crossed their lips.” A vow can be seen as so many different things; a white lie, promise, a signed contract, keeping secrets and so much more. I will just touch base on a few. What people don’t understand these days is that when you make a Vow and break it, there are consequences. It might not be instant but it will slowly start affecting your life. Sometimes people make a promise to you because they want to make you feel better about something but they already know that they are not keeping their word. This could even be a white lie which we are all guilty of. Parents often tell their children a “white lie” because they don’t want to worry them or they want to build their self-confidence. The problem with this white lie is that the child won’t know when to actually believe them and get confused about the truth if someone tells it differently. A secret is something we are all familiar with and every one of us has heard something before that we shouldn’t ever repeat because that person is relying on us to keep this secret safe. If you repeat this secret to someone else they could then continue to tell other people and this could eventually hurt the person who’s secret it was. Besides that person having their feelings hurt, they will never trust you again and you could lose their friendship. Not only would you lose their friendship but all of the people you told the secret to would also think twice before sharing anything with you. Back in medieval times if you broke your word it would cost your life. That was the same with ancient Greece even though they had no official laws back then. At the beginning of Grade 7, we had to sign a contract with our parents and the school to vow that we would follow the school rules and to not partake in any drinking and drugs. This is a promise that I have now made to myself, parents and the school and by breaking these rules it could lead to me having detention, being suspended or even worse, they could expel me. It would let so many people down but the worst would be letting myself down. During the past couple of months of Covid and the lockdown, we have had the government tell us certain things and then gone back on their word. At first we felt protected by the Government and we were trusting what they were doing but at some point when they started going back on what they had said to us, we started losing a bit of faith and you start doubting if they are running our country properly. It is not always easy to keep your vows and with all the influences around you and daily challenges, it makes it even more difficult. I hope that I will be able to keep the vows I make and If I think I am going to break it, I won’t make it. I want to be able to keep my vows in the eyes of Hashem, Parents, Friends and myself. And today is my bar mitzvah and I would not be here without all the help from Rabbi Greg, Rachel and Bronwen preparing me for this day and the support from my Parents. Shabbat Shalom

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