It was June 1950 and in a jam-packed synagogue in Israel on a Shabbos morning, there was going to be a special event, unlike any other event this community had ever experienced. A sweet young orphaned boy named Yisrael, who had survived the holocaust, was celebrating his Bar Mitzvah today.
He had spent many months rehearsing the Torah reading. Time and time again he went over it until he had the exact tones and the pitch just the way his teacher had taught him.
It was time for him to start and suddenly Moishe, the regular Baal Koreh (Torah reader) came in. Moishe had his Tallis on and was headed to the Bima as he did each week. The gabbai (a synagogue official) stopped Moishe and said, “There’s a Bar Mitzvah this week weren’t you informed? You are not reading, Yisrael is reading today!
Moishe, an elderly man started fuming! “For years I have read the Torah here. I spent all week preparing. No one told me about the Bar Mitzvah! I never take any money for my services, I demand to read the Torah!”
The people in the synagogue were all curious as to what all the commotion was about near the Torah, when suddenly young Yisrael looked up at Moishe handed him the Tallis and said, “ Moishe, I am young and yes I also prepared for the Torah reading however, because of my youth and with G-ds help I will have many more years to read from the Torah. Here take the Tallis and you read today and he climbed down from the Bima.
Little Yisrael turned out to be correct about his predictions because he grew up to read the Torah many times and speak the words of the Torah in front of thousands of people worldwide since he became the Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau.
These past ten days Jews throughout the world sacrificed their comforts to help their Ukrainian Jewish Brethren. Emergency flight missions and many other evacuation and rescue missions have been taking place. Jews sacrificed their comforts to make room for the Jews and other Ukrainian people that are now homeless. Millions of dollars in donations have poured in worldwide to make sure that each refugee knows that they are not alone in their struggles.
That as one nation we do not turn a blind eye to our brothers in need. As Natan Sharansky, (An Israeli politician and human rights activist) said so eloquently last week, “When I was growing up in Russia Jews did whatever we could to remove the word Jew from our official documents, now the nations are doing whatever they can to get the word Jew put on to their documents to get some of the world support that we are providing.”
This week’s Parsha talks about the sacrifices that are made in the temple. Do we really think that Hashem needs our animals? The answer is that the only way for us to reach our potential and to build a healthy relationship with our inner core is through sacrifice.
On college campuses, they have these fraternities that the only way to get into them is to pledge a particular fraternity; a sort of hazing ritual to show your dedication to the fraternity.
In the business world, you can only raise money from other investors if you have what is called ‘’Skin in the game.” This means that unless you are putting in some of your own hard-earned money into this investment don’t ask me for mine.
Sacrifice proves the authenticity of a trusting loving relationship like nothing else. Go ask two army veterans who risked their lives for each other in the war, if they have any closer friends in the world.
So Hashem says to the Jewish people: I gave you plenty of abundance in the world because I want to be close to you. If you want to be close to me sacrifice something close to you, for me.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!