Abigail Perling - Dvar Torah
Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Malcom, congregation, family and friends. Thank you for being here today to celebrate my bat-mitzvah.
This is a very special day for me and my family. My Torah portion is about the story of Noah otherwise known as Parshat Noach. Noah was instructed by Hashem to build an arc and put every kind of animal in it male and female. Hashem was going to send a flood lasting for 40 days and 40 nights as a punishment for all the wrongdoing and corruption in the world. This flood would destroy all life on earth - humans and animals big and small. Noah had a mighty task ahead and had to trust Hashem, have faith and complete his task. Noah, his wife, his sons and his son’s wives would enter the arc to be protected from death and recreate the world according to Hashem’s wishes and commandments. Upon completing his task of making the arc, loading all the animals and his family into it and waiting out the time Hashem had warned Noah about, Hashem made a promise and covenant to Noah and every living creature and humankind that he would not send another flood to destroy the earth. This promise was represented as a rainbow in the sky.
There are many lessons in the story of Noah. When discussing it with my parents and Rabbi Malcolm my interpretation of the rainbow is the topic I wanted to share with you all today. I have always loved seeing rainbows in the sky after a storm or heavy rain. Admiring how all of the colours shine so brightly and how each of those colours are unique and cannot be replaced. The rainbow for me represents humankind and how unique and different we all are. All seven colours are needed to make the rainbow complete. Acceptance and respect for how each colour makes the rainbow complete can be compared to how all of us with our own strengths, characters and roles make up our community, this city and our country SA better known as the rainbow nation. We live with different cultures, ages, genders, languages, races and religions. Different colours, different backgrounds and different abilities remind us of the different animals and people rebuilding the world after the flood. We all can learn to live together with purpose and in peace. This reminds us of Hashem’s promise to Noah and us. Having my bat mitzvah gives me responsibility as an adult for my faith and journey with Hashem where I have an open mind for learning Torah. An older member of our congregation has wisdom they can share with me - together we both make up important parts of the rainbow. As an animal lover I am often touched when I see how dogs and cats can play and take care of one another. They are so different and are often depicted as enemies but they can live together lovingly. They too are important parts of the rainbow.
Lastly, my understanding of the reason for the flood. I believe that the wrongdoings were how people were not being kind or accepting of one another. They were also not following the 10 commandments leading to lawlessness and chaos! As we are all different and make up the rainbow of life perhaps we can practice this quote from one of my favourite books “Wonder”. “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”