- Upper Division
- Weekly D'var Torah
By Molly Malek, Denver JDS eighth grader
As part of Color War, each team must choose a representative to write and deliver a d'var Torah (a sermon) about the weekly reading and present it to the entire Upper Division with faculty serving as judges.
Good morning, Denver Jewish Day School.
In this week's parsha (reading) of Pekude, we are told all about the various rituals and practices that were performed in the mishkan (tabernacle). Now, as interesting as all of the services in the mishkan were, all of that was in the past. Instead, I would like to look at a seemingly irrelevant verse. After every completion of an item in the mishkan or accomplishment of one of the avodas the Torah writes, "Kaasher tzvah hashem et moshe,” which translates to “they did it as God commanded Moses.” This verse is repeated not once, not twice, but 18 times in this week’s parsha!
This repetition is strange because we are taught that no word in the Torah is superfluous. Why, then, does it say “they did as God commanded Moses,” instead of just saying “they did as God commanded?” The rabbis answer this question by presenting the gematria value of the number 18, which symbolizes life. A few parshiyot ago, the people sinned with the golden calf. In response, God told Moses that he would wipe out the entire Jewish population, excluding only Moses and his children and through Moses and his children, the Jewish people would live on. However, Moses responded saying “Mechayne na me se frecha — erase me from Your book that You have written!” Essentially, Moses told God that if he wiped out the Jewish people, he would have to kill Moses as well. In this one act, Moses ensured the lives and the future of the Jewish people, then and now. Without that one action, none of us would be here today. Therefore, Moses's name is mentioned 18 times in this week's parsha to remind us that we owe our future to him.
However, Moses is not the only person to have done this. In a few weeks, we will be reading the story of Esther. Once again in this story, the fate of the Jewish people teeters between life and death. And, once again, someone is faced with the choice to either protect themselves and their future or to risk their lives to preserve the future of the Jewish people. In the book of Esther, after hearing about Haman’s plans, Esther writes a letter to Mordechai saying, “All the king’s courtiers and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any person, man or woman, enters the king’s presence in the inner court without having been summoned, there is but one law for him — that he be put to death...” Esther knows that to appear before the king uninvited means certain death, and yet she still decides to seek an audience with Achashverosh. She puts the future of the Jewish people before her own life.
In a sense, our school is just like Moses and Esther. I can tell you with absolute certainty that this mishpacha (family) has created a brighter future for me and for countless others. Two of my greatest weaknesses have always been math and English. Over this past year, Mr. T has taught me so much. He is always there to explain any concepts that I am struggling with, and encourages me to push myself to achieve my highest potential. Similarly, Mrs. Silberman is brutally honest, which forces me to grow as a writer and as a person. Mr. Halper’s divrei torah provide me with an opportunity to practice the skills that I am learning in Mrs. Silberman’s class, as well as a platform where I can express myself. Through these divrei torah, I also learn how to inspire other people— and isn’t that what Color War is all about? This week serves to inspire our mishpacha to learn the skills necessary to succeed in the future.
Overall, the greatest message from this week's parsha is that one person can change the future of an entire nation. We should all be searching for opportunities to help improve the future for ourselves and for others, whether we do so by just being good friends, by being great teachers, or by devoting ourselves completely to the things that we believe in.
Now I just have one more question that needs answering. Who’s gonna win this color war????!!!!