This morning's Dvar Torah was given by Addie Bard, Sophia Sadikman, and Noah Kuperberg (all Grade 12).
As the student council grade representatives of the senior class, we want to welcome you to our first Kabbalat Shabbat of the year! More excitingly, welcome to your first friday of the year!
You might be wondering what we have been up to, or if we have been up to anything at all. We got the water bottle filter installed, and we've worked hard to create a science lab that is new this year, similar to math or writing lab. Now back to the approved program.
This week's Parsha is Ki Tavo. Ki Tavo contains one of the most powerful and frightening chapters of the Torah. It lists 14 verses of good things that will happen to the Jewish people if they obey God faithfully and follow the commandments. It then goes on to list, in a whopping 54 verses, all the curses that will befall the Jewish people if they don't observe the commandments. According to Rabbi Professor Marc Saperstein, Ki Tavo is "the most terrifying litany portraying various kinds of Jewish suffering in our classical literature." So it's quite befitting that we read it on our first week of school.
You might be thinking, what are these punishments? Diseases, floods, exile, conquest by merciless foreign enemies, and famine to the point where parents will eat the flesh of their own children, are a few examples. The parasha reads:
"יַכְּכָה יְהוָה, בְּשִׁגָּעוֹן וּבְעִוָּרוֹן; וּבְתִמְהוֹן, לֵבָב." which translates to "The LORD will smite thee with madness, and with blindness, and with astonishment of heart." As you can tell, it's pretty intense.
Today, our punishments take a different form. Group projects, homework, pop quizzes, mixed advanced and ECP classes, junior year, long lunch lines, the new school cell phone policy. And of course, the imminent threat of treelurkers.
And in the spirit of the parsha, three good things about starting off the school year, to maintain the same ratio. Wonderful faculty, seeing your friends again, and the class of 2019.
Going into the new year it's easy to focus on all of the things that can go wrong in the year, and to minimize what could potentially go well. Inevitably, things will go wrong and if you look at the history of the Jewish people, a lot has gone wrong for them as well. In fact, if you go down the list of curses it may be difficult to find ones that the Jewish people have not endured over the years. Yet, through all of the rough patches in their history, the Jews have lived on and made it through. Similarly, although there will be rough patches as you make your way through the school year, however bad it may seem, you will make it through.
This parsha is a constant reminder of everything that can go wrong. However, it is up to us to maintain a positive outlook and not get caught up in the small stuff. You can choose to see this parasha as a big jumble of curses, or you can choose to see it as a small jumble of blessings.
Wishing you a blessed year of school.