Shayna’s Bat Mitzvah Speech ‑ OUTLINE

April 14, 2018


Shabbat Shalom.  As I have just read from the Torah and haftarah, I would now like to take a moment and share with you some thoughts I have about these texts.


My Torah portion is called Shemini and it contains ..............
(rewrite these sentences in your words – using the info below – keep it simple – feel free to copy the text)

            Aaron and his sons follow Moses' instructions and offer sacrifices so that God will forgive           the people.

            Two of Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, offer "alien fire" to God. God punishes these two           priests by killing them immediately.

            God forbids Moses, Aaron, and his surviving sons from mourning but commands the rest of the people to do so. Priests are told not to drink alcohol before entering the sacred    Tabernacle and are further instructed about making sacrifices.

            Laws are given to distinguish between pure and impure animals, birds, fish, and insects.


My haftarah, or reading from the book of prophets, came from the second book of Samuel, from chapters 6 and 7. In this selection, we read about the ark of the covenant being brought up to Jerusalem, and one of the people in the procession – Uzzah – reached out to touch the ark, and he died.  This is the connection back to the Torah portion, when Nadab and Abihu were also struck down for acting out of turn.

As I prepared for my Bat Mitzvah today, I was interested in this part of the text from my Torah portion - where Nadab and Abihu were killed for offer AISH ZARAH – alien fire before God. This is a very troubling text for a lot of reasons.  What did Nadab and Abihu really do wrong?  Was their punishment worthy of the sin? What about their father Aaron’s response – why was he silent when he learned of their death? Bottom line – this is a tough Torah portion for a Bat Mitzvah!


Rabbi Katz shared with me that our ancestors also had problems with this portion. Some of the rabbis argued that Nadab and Abihu were trying to rush, or force, a relationship with God – instead of building one.  They offered alien fire – or unacceptable sacrifice – because they wanted to go through the ritual of the sacrifice without caring about what the sacrifice was about.  They were just going through the ritual without using it as a chance to build a relationship with God.  They were trying the east way to bring God close to them.  One modern rabbi wrote that, “Rather than doing the work that was required of them, rather than taking the time to understand and follow God's instructions, they jumped in with fire from their hearts alone - and expected an instant and positive connection. They didn't follow instructions. They didn't "read the labels." They learned that relationship with God is not a "just add water" kind of thing.”





***** Illustration .....  (this is your main text – follow the instructions)


1. Write about 5 sentences about your friends at GFC – you see them each year – how has that relationship grown


2. Write about 5 sentences about your family – is everything always perfect?  No – but you work it out through relationships



3. Write about 5 sentences about your relationship with the Jewish community – you are young – and you don’t understand everything – but through commitment to Jewish life – you will keep building that trust



In the end, we learn that building a relationship takes time. It takes trust, sacrifice, openness, and love.  We should not be like Nadav and Abihu and think that we can build a relationship in an instant.


I want to thank a few people for making this such a special day.  I would like to thank ..........


Shabbat Shalom.

© 2020 by Congregation Beth El