Jonah Tobin's Mitzvah Project
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The Torah portion for my Bar Mitzvah is Beha'alotecha. G-d told Moses to make a menorah and Aaron is commanded to light the lamps of the menorah. Many rituals in the Temple could only be performed by Cohanim and priests, but lighting a menorah could be done by everyone. Therefore everyone has an obligation to reach out and to teach others. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah means that now I will become a “lighter” or teacher.
Beha'alotecha is Hebrew for "when you step up” because there were three steps up to the menorah. What does this mean? When you approach someone to teach you should approach him or her with reverence. Never look down on someone who knows less than you. It is an obligation to share Torah or whatever you know.
The goal of Be’chol Lashon is also to reach out and to teach, to meet people wherever they are on their life path and welcome them into the Jewish people.
My Dad wanted so much to be here today with me. His soul and spirit will guide me and help me in the next phase of my life. Rabbi Zarchi told me that my Dad embodied so much of the values of Aaron, the high priest. The Talmud tells us that Aaron loved the Jewish people with all his heart. That was my Dad. The Torah also tells us that when Aaron passed away, the Israelites cried and mourned him more than they did for Moses. The reason was that Moses was their rabbi and teacher, but Aaron was their loving father. I hope to follow in his footsteps.
I am lucky to have so many wonderful teachers and mentors. I think of Rabbi Sizomu, his wife, Tziporah, and his children, Igaal, Dafna and Naavah, as family. We went to Igaal’s bar mitzvah when they were living in Los Angeles a few years ago. We started a college fund for Igaal for his bar mitzvah. I am lucky that my father provided money for me to go to college and graduate school. As future Jewish community leaders, it is important that Igaal, Dafna and Naavah Sizomu and others have the same educational opportunities. I would like to donate the money I receive for my Bar Mitzvah to an Education Fund.