- Upper Division
- Weekly D'var Torah
By Elaine Abrams, Denver JDS 10th 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.
Gut margn, DJDS!
This phrase translates to “good morning” in Yiddish, the language spoken by Jews in Europe for over 1,000 years. In today’s day and age, it is an uncommonly used language, but remains an important piece of our Jewish heritage. In order to commemorate this element of our people’s past, this spiel integrates Yiddish phrases throughout the parsha’s breakdown.
Parshat Pekudei mostly consists of the details relating to the mishkan’s structure. Essentially, the tabernacle, or mishkan, was a portable temple that the Jews used while they were wandering for 40 years. It is one of the most holy places in all of Jewish history. Because God’s presence was there, it makes perfect sense why the Torah would delve into such detail about the contents that lay within it.
These items included seemingly frivolous [TEAM YELLS: BUPKES] details about the exact amounts of gold, copper, and silver that were used, the anointing oil, and the specifics of the Cohanim’s (priests') garments. Of all of the contents that lay within the mishkan, the holy ark, is undeniably one, if not the most important of all the items. The ark held the two sets of tablets that Moses received from God at mount Sinai. While the first set was destroyed by Moses seeing the Jews commit the sin of the golden calf, the second set of tablets was a meaningful symbol of God’s redemption. This just begs the question, why would both sets of tablets be kept in this holy ark? Why would the broken set of tablets still be kept there when they are nothing but a symbol of sin and destruction?! [TEAM YELLS: NU?!]
Now, you all must be thinking: this makes absolutely no sense! Welp, that’s life [TEAM YELLS: OY GEVALT]. No, no, no, I only kid. Since the old tablets are a reminder of such a great sin that the Jewish people completed, [TEAM YELLS: NUDNIKIM] practically, it has no use. Therefore, logically, those old, broken, and useless tablets should not have been kept in such a holy, significant place. The only benefit that these tablets provided the Jewish people with was to remind them of their past mistake and their shame from committing this sin. While it is true that the tablets do remind the Jewish people of the sin of the golden calf and their shame, it is not necessarily a negative reminder because these tablets remind the Jewish people of so much more.
The tablets continued to remind the people of their sin and ensured that it would never be forgotten or repeated. Would you want your biggest regrets to be displayed in a central place in your life? I think not. I know I wouldn’t. Whenever people make mistakes, we tend to try to forget, move on, and not acknowledge or dwell on the painfulness of the mistake. Having the old smashed tablets in a front and center place for the Jewish community made it harder for the Jews to not learn from their mistake. This sends a clear message that an integral part of Judaism is learning and honoring our past. The entirety of the Jewish tradition is based on our value of history. The Torah itself, the very backbone of our religion, is a collection of stories from our ancestors’ past that has been passed down through generations. We are a unique people that has managed to maintain our faith for over 3,000 years throughout both good and hard times. Being one of the oldest monotheistic religions, the Jewish people have prevailed. Today we even learn the same language our bubbes (grandmothers) spoke, study the same Torah, and engage in the same traditions. Think about it. The very prayers you say in tefilah are the same ones that Jews all over the world have been reciting for centuries. It connects each and every Jew throughout history in such a meaningful way. Even if you didn’t live in the same country or in the same time period, you still practice the same commonalities of the traditions of our Jewish heritage. How amazing is that?! All of these are a tribute to our past. The way in which we have continued to engage in these practices is by making sure we put an emphasis on learning the history of our people.
At DJDS we embody this value of embracing and celebrating our past. We carry out traditions year after year that have been passed down to us. This very week emphasizes all of our school’s crazy traditions that are SO important. Oftentimes when describing DJDS, these little traditions are what define our school — from the cheers, dances, the ice cream truce, all the way to the act of God moments during egg toss. These traditions might seem ridiculous and meaningless to an outsider, but to all of us here, they are extraordinarily inspiring. They are something that we want to make sure continues on for generations.
As an overwhelmed little sixth grader at my first Color War, the traditions introduced to me appeared to be second nature to the upperclassmen and they did not even think of them as out of the ordinary. I admit, at first my reaction was that this was mashugana (crazy). However, as I learned the origins of the traditions, I began understanding the true underlying significance and meaning they contain. Today, just like the upperclassman I once questioned, I swear by these traditions and understand that they are a tribute to our past history as a school and define what DJDS means.
I must now continue a very important DJDS tradition, and like every person who has given a Color War d’var torah in the past before me, has ended it with the infamous phrase…..
WHO’S GONNA WIN THIS COLOR WAR?!?!?!?!