Sunday, May 16, 2010

Shani's bat mitzvah

Here is the video of Shani's bat mitzvah. She looked great, and is great (actually, wonderful)

Here is the text of her d'var Torah - it is a little bit difficult to hear her:

Good evening everybody. Thank you all so much for coming.

For the past several months I have been learning the Ein Yaakov on Pesachim with my father. We finished the masechta last week. Ein Yaakov is a collection of all the stories and aggadot from the Talmud.

There were many interesting things I found in Pesachim. I especially enjoyed learning about how the sun moves across the heavens, and the calculation of the size of the world. It was fun learning about King Chizkiya in Pesachim, and then a few days later learning it in school.

Some of the stories seem very strange, and I always wanted to understand what they really mean.

One of the stories, which seemed very odd to me (though there were certainly things that were much more strange), is in Pesachim קיח. It says:

When Rabbi Yishmael bar Yossi was sick, Rebbi asked him to tell him three things that his father had said. One of the things he said was:

“There are 365 (three hundred AND sixty five) markets in a big city in Rome. In each market there are 365 storehouses, and in each storehouse there are 365 levels, and in each level there is enough food to feed the entire world.”

Rabbi Shimon asked him, “Who are all these for?”

He replied, “For you, and your friends and your friends’ friends.”

The Ben Ish Chai, in his book Ben Yehoyada, asks the following questions:

“Why do we need a Rabbi to tell us these things? We could just look at a map, or ask any traveller who has been to that city.
And why was this the most important thing for Rabbi Yishmael to say on his death bed?

He answers: the big city represents the body which is called “a small city”. Therefore a tzadik’s body should be called a ‘big city’, because he has reached the greatest spiritual heights.

The 365 markets represent the 365 parts of the body. And each market has 365 storehouses, which represent the deeper meaning of the 365 tendons. This is the spiritual component of each part of the body.

Each of the storehouses has 365 levels which represent the lights of the 365 negative mitzvos, which feed the whole body, which is called a world. Each spiritual light is so strong that it can feed the entire world.

Of course the number 365 also reminds us of the number of days of the year.

This means that every single time that we keep a single negative commandment we bring life to our whole body. This allows us to survive in the World to Come. And we can build our world every single day of the year.

When Rabbi Shimon asked him who are all these for he was asking, “Who deserves to have all this said about him?”

Rabbi Yishmael bar Yossi replied, “For you and your friends and your friends’ friends. This is said about the tzadikim who learn Torah day and night. The three groups of “You”, “Your friends” and “friends’ friends” refers to the three parts of the Oral Torah (תורה שבעל פה) – the mishna, the talmud and the aggada.

So we see that this story, which at first sight doesn’t seem to have any importance, or any historical truth, is actually teaching us about what we should aim for in our lives. The tzadikim inherit the world, and the cities, and the storehouses. This inspires and teaches us to all strive to be like the friends of Rabbi Yishmael. And it shows us the importance of learning all parts of Torah, because each contains enough life force to earn the World to Come.

I would like to thank our friends from Midreshet Rachel who have helped make tonight possible. Thank you to Nicole, Aviva, Melissa and everyone else who has kept us sane, cleaned the house, did my hair, cut the salad, put the little girls to bed (well they tried), and generally did everything to keep our home running and make this bat mitzvah celebration possible.

Thank you to Selma for helping to set up everything for tonight.

Thank you to Miriam for making the amazing cake.

Thank you to Mrs Schonbrun for making the cake and to Doda Deena for making the chocolate chip cookies and also for helping me develop my artistic talents in her studio.

Thank you to all of you for coming and celebrating this special day with me. I know it was not easy for you all to come, especially those who came from out of town. Thank you very much for making the effort. Family means so much to me, especially having spent many years in Britain, far away from all of you.

This is being recorded on video (hopefully) so I want to say how sad I am that Grampa and Grandma are not able to be with us tonight. I spoke to Grandma this morning, and she told me that when she wakes up at 4:30 in the morning (New Zealand time – which is now) she will be thinking of me.

I would like to say an especially big thank you to my Safta and Zeidy. I am so glad that we moved back to Israel five years ago so that we can be so close to you. I love being able to spend Shabbos on my own with you in the Old City, and to feel like an only child for a little while. Tonights celebrations are only possible because of both of you. And thank you so much to Safta for working so hard to make it the wonderful event that you see.

I want to thank Avi, Mo, Tamar and Ella for keeping the house messy so that I always have some cleaning to do. Even though you sometimes drive me crazy, I still love you.

I want to give a big thank you to my Abba for spending so much of his precious time learning with me these past months. Not only did I learn a lot, but I really appreciated the time we spent together. I hope that I can continue learning with you in the future, even though the bat mitzvah is finished. I loved the fact that I was learning Ein Yaakov with you and some of the girls in my class do not even know what Ein Yaakov is!

Mummy - thank you so much for being my Mummy. You do everything for me, from school homework, to creative ideas. You give me a shoulder to cry on and a companion to laugh with. I only hope that you get back on your feet very soon and have the energy to continue with everything that you do for me, and for all of us.

One final thought - Yesterday was Yom Yerushalayim when we saw the miracle of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount was given back to us. Tonight is Rosh Chodesh, a time of the rebirth of the moon. It is my prayer that all of us should merit to see the final rebuilding of Yerushalayim, with the coming of Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash.

And here are the words to Avi's song (so that you at home can sing along):

Our sister, her name is Shoshana
To sing at her Bat Mitzvah’s an honor

Soooooo –
Shoshana, Shoshana, Shoshana
As a sister, you really would “wanna”

Twelve years ago – she was born
On erev Pessach – it wasn’t the morn

Her first Seder she was less than a day
And Avi agreed she could stay.

Shoshana, Shoshana, Shoshana
As a sister, you really would “wanna”

As a Scotsgirl, she spoke with a brogue
But to us it sounded like a frog!

In England it got a bit posher
Then her words were really quite kosher.

After Aliyah – you never would know
Hebrew and English she speaks like a pro.

Shoshana, Shoshana, Shoshana
As a sister, you really would “wanna”

She ‘s nice, she’s pretty and funny
And her mood is usually (?) sunny

She works hard as a babysitter
Even when her siblings hit her.

Shoshana, Shoshana, Shoshana
As a sister, you really would “wanna”

When she’s grown, she wants to be a teacher
So she practices on us Sedley creatures

That’s when we drive her real crazy
And she yells at us that we’re lazy

So she makes us work even more
Until we can escape out the door –

Shoshana, Shoshana, Shoshana
As a sister, you really would “wanna”

But today we want her to know
We love her – though it doesn’t always show

And anyone would be proud of Shoshana
To be her sister you really would “wanna”

And finally, Here is Savta's poem:

Twas the Night Before Pessach

Twas the night before Pessach, 12 years ago

Not a creature was stirring, no one with a woe.

The house, it was cleaned by us with care

Knowing that Pessach soon would be there.

Avi was nestled all snug in his bed

While visions of matzoh danced in his head

But Alit and David were not to be seen

They were at the hospital creating a scene.

When out of the kitchen, there arose such a clatter

I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.

The phone was ringing so loud, you see,

I breathlessly answered and a voice said to me…

“A little girl has been born this night

Oh, WOW, is she a beautiful sight.

To my wondering eyes, this princess appears

And my eyes got filled with lots of tears.”

After I checked that all was fine

I sat down and drank a full glass of wine

In less than a day – the seder would start

With the Sedley guest list – Oh my heart!

But it turned out this seder was really the best

Because we had such a special guest –

This tiny baby, less than one day old

Joined us that evening as the Exodus was told.

Now twelve years later, on Shani’s Bat Mitzvah day

There is so much that I want to say

But it all comes down to – Zeide and I love you so

You are precious to us as we watch you grow.

You’ve become young woman with beautiful midot

What else can I say in this little note

Just a prayer you continue to shed your light

On everyone who enters your sight.

And so I’ll end this little poem

So we can all return on home.

I’ll just finish this with a wish just right –

Happy Bat Mitzvah to you, and to all – a good night.