June 2, 2010 A lot of people in my life have thought that I look like Harry Potter. My friend Ben says that I look exactly like him. And so do the other kids at school. The truth is, I don’t agree. I even lost two bets because of it. I really shouldn’t complain though. The guy is famous for Pete’s sake! You must be wondering right about now, why in the world is this guy talking about a fictional wizard during Saturday morning temple? That reason is because Moses attracted a lot of trouble, and so does Harry Potter and apparently, so do I. Thank goodness one big difference between me and Harry Potter is that no one is out to kill me, I hope. Now, sadly Harry Potter has nothing to do with the rest of what I plan to say. Now I am going to talk about my Torah portion which is Korakh, in the book of Numbers. First, it is helpful to know that preceding this week’s portion, Moses led the Jews out of slavery in Egypt. But they soon became unhappy because they were hungry and tired. And in last week’s reading, people came back with some frightening reports, after scouting out the land of Canaan. This week, in Korakh, Moses and Aaron are rebelled against by Korakh and 250 Jewish leaders, along with Dathan, Aviram and On. They verbally attacked Moses and accused him of, among other things, making himself more holy than the lord’s congregation. Also taking them out of the land flowing with milk and honey to have them die in the wilderness. In response, Moses fell on his face. According to Everett Fox, a modern day biblical scholar, Moses flung himself on his face. You might think that it was because he was intimidated. Or maybe that he had given up. Well then, your right! Once he was on the dirt my perspective of the situation is that Moses started to pray to God to give him advice on what he should do to fight back. After consulting with God, Moses got back up and fought back with his words. I can relate to Moses because at school I am also bullied by others, but I don’t fight back with physical violence. I think I can learn from Moses though, that sometimes you win without physical violence. I can also learn that I should always choose my words carefully. For example, when someone says something nasty to me, I say something nasty back. That does not solve anything. I could try to not say anything. Then they might get bored and leave me alone. I have written a five part poetic dialogue between Moses and God. It is what I think they discussed while Moses was on the ground begging for help. Part 1: Pit Of Darkness I am in the dark, all alone. No one is there to give me comfort, warmth. No one. What shall I do? I seek all that is light, all that is happiness. I’m scared, terrified out of my skin, my shell. Is it my soul that brought me here? But what did I do? Can I fix it? Beg for forgiveness? Is it all my fault? I begin to cry, I wish to be the tears, running down my cheeks, escaping their cage, my cage. I am in a pit of darkness. There is no where I can go. Part 2: Powers Of Voice Dear son, I speak within your heart, your flesh. I tell you now that your voice is 100 souls stronger than force. To use your voice is to fight back on what you believe. Use it like you wish to give a dying soul life. Give me the sweet gift of the sound of your voice, your tongue. Though you may be on your face, I know you have the strength to get off of mother’s dirt and regain yourself. Part 3: Little Runt My Lord, you tell me to rise again and speak. But I cannot for my tongue is pinned down to the pit of my mouth. It can barely move for it is weak. I am like a runt, a runt who can not fend for himself. If I talk they will think even worse of me. Please! I can not speak! I can hardly breathe! I can hardly move! Part 4: The Power Within My son, I understand how you are feeling right now, harmed, attacked, and for what? For not doing anything wrong? You haven’t stolen a donkey from any of them! You haven’t wronged any of them! Before you stand: close your eyes; shut down your system; find a place within yourself where you will always be at peace and safe. See yourself as a tree. Water it and take care of it. Stand and be who you are! Then you shall succeed in all of the missions of life and death. Part 5: The New Beginning And with that Moses stood up and said to the rebels, “Come tomorrow at morn bring your fire pans and lay incense on them and then the Lord will choose. God will decide who is holy and who is not. I have not taken a donkey from any of you or wronged any of you.” I have learned from this theoretical dialogue between God and Moses that in life when you are in trouble you have to find your happy place and go there to remind yourself of the good things in life. Of course it’s easy to say it but not nearly as easy to do it. From the process of studying this Torah portion and writing about it, I think that the most important lesson I’ve learned is this. I’ve learned that in life when you’re in trouble you can always go to friends and family for help even though things seem hopeless and unfixable. I know that when I’m in trouble or worried about something I can always talk to friends or my teachers and family about it. They might not be able to do anything but at least they are there to support me. I’ve also found that writing can be a good way to express the way I’m feeling and help me get my emotions out. I think you should try something like talking or writing or whatever works for you if, you are bullied like I am or you have something else going on that’s bothering you. Now, as I conclude my interpretation of this portion, I think the message of Korakh is to always stand up for what you believe in and for yourself. I would like to ask you all to do something: Think about someone you have bullied or not been as kind to as you think you should have in the past. And I would like you to just think for a minute, what did you bully them for? What did they do to you to make you upset and treat them that way? And how would it make you feel if the tables were turned and you were in their place? I know that often I would like bad things to happen to the people who bother me. For example, maybe for them to fall down into a hole in the earth as Korakh did. After you leave this sanctuary, I would like you to think about everything that I have said, and I hope you take it all to heart. Haftarah “And from new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, says the Eternal One, all flesh shall come to worship Me.” It is Shabbos, a new Saturday, a new day, a new beginning. Around the world someone might have died today, and also someone might be born today. We all have a blessing, and that blessing is to be able to start over. When Moses got off the ground and fought back for himself, it was his new beginning, his time to shine. We all have a new beginning; each day of our lives is a new beginning. God gives us the chance to just start over and make something else of ourselves, whether we become better people or make worse of ourselves, we have the power to change. And each second counts, each minute, each hour, each day. Every second counts. Every second of your life counts. Each mistake, each decision counts. Even if you don’t pay attention to very small moments, they are still very important. Like for instance I am marking this day, this minute, this very second. Because this is the part of my life where I am becoming a man and a better human being. I have marked it by doing all this hard work and putting emotion and myself into it. I have taken this torah portion and Haftorah and put myself into it.