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Mirel Margolin

Hello everyone and thank you for coming to my Bat Mitzvah. My Torah portion, Korach, from the Book of Numbers is about how Korach, Dathan, and Abiram tried to overthrow Moses, because Korach wanted power and he believed that Moses and Aaron had made themselves more powerful than they should be, and that God had not given them all of that power. One day, Korach and 250 other Israelites came to Moses and Aaron and said, “You have gone too far! All the people in the community are holy, and God is with them. Why are you setting yourselves above God’s congregation?” When Moses heard this, he felt terrible. Moses then instructed Korach and his followers to present offerings to God the next morning. God will accept only the Holy One’s incense. He then spoke to the party and told them that they had all gone too far. They were already privileged and famous and now they are demanding more. By doing this they were not arguing against Aaron and Moses, but God Himself. Despite Moses saying this, they believed that Moses was not sent by God, instead he had taken them away from Egypt and taken them through the desert to a terrible place. The next morning they all made an offering. God then instructed Moses and Aaron to separate themselves from the community. Moses and Aaron asked God not to punish all for one man’s sin, so instead God told them to tell the community to separate themselves from Korach, Dathan and Abiram. After the men did so, Moses declared that if these men died from natural causes, God had not sent him. Just as he finished saying this, the ground opened and swallowed Korach, Dathan and Abiram, along with all of the men that had not separated themselves. Then God sent a fire consuming the 250 men with the incense. After this, it became clear to most Jews that Moses and Aaron were chosen by God, but some Jews still complained that they had brought death upon the community. God sent a plague killing some of these people, until Aaron made a ketoret offering to ask God to stop the plague. After the plagues stopped, God made Aaron’s staff grow flowers and almonds to show everyone that Aaron was the Kohen chosen by God.


At first glance, you may believe that this portion is saying do not question authorities, but in my opinion, that is not what it means at all. I believe that this means that you can question authorities as long as you are doing it because you believe that it is right, and as long as you are doing it in a moral way. Korach did not confront Moses and Aaron because he believed that it was the right thing to do. He did it because he wanted power. Korach was forgetting all that Moses and Aaron had done for the community and was only focusing on the small consequences that they faced instead. 


As we have gone through this pandemic, if a stranger came up to you, pulled his mask down, and spit on you, you would probably wonder why. That person may have done it to demonstrate power over you, not because he believed that it was right. During the pandemic, the right thing to do is to put on a mask, not because you were told to, or you believe that you need to wear it, but because it makes others comfortable and protects them.  In the story, Moses and Aaron even question God by asking Him not to punish everyone for one person’s doing. They showed their gratitude for God by not demanding anything, but instead asking nicely. 


For my mitzvah project, I made masks and sold them for eight dollars on Instagram. Half of the proceeds and all of the extra went to the Gary Sinise Foundation where they supply services, equipment, money, and food for the military, veterans, and first responders. I ended up raising more than 500 dollars and giving it to this great foundation. At school I have also had fundraisers on Veterans Day for two years. Last year, I organized a bake sale and a dress down day. This year, however, I had to be more creative with my fundraiser because of the limits that COVID-19 created. I ended up making a parachute drop, where you paid to drop a mini parachuter figurine down a few flights of stairs and try to make it in the bucket at the bottom. With help from some teachers and a few friends, some of which are here today, it was possible and we raised over 500 dollars for the Gary Sinise foundation. When I was coming up with an idea for this year’s fundraiser, there were many times where I wanted to stop, because I did not know what my idea should be, and there were many times when I wanted to just use last year’s idea, but I could not do that because a bake sale is not covid safe, because even if I did not believe in every rule that I must follow to have the fundraiser, I still needed to follow them so that others would feel comfortable participating and so that I showed the school that I am grateful for what school did to allow me to be in person and that despite the rules getting in the way of what I wanted, I was still grateful. I also wanted to appreciate these veterans, because they often go unappreciated for one bad thing that one may have done. This year and every year, we will all hear something that we do not want to follow, but even when you question what you hear, you should still follow the rules and think before you start to show your disagreement, so that the way that you show it is moral.


Thank you everyone for joining me on this day, whether virtually or in person.  Thank you to my mom for putting down whatever she was doing when I needed help. Thank you to my dad for teaching me as much about Judaism as he can, even when I don’t want to hear it. Thank you to Levy and Sander, who do everything and more that a big sibling can do for their little sister. Thank you to my grandparents for always being there for me when I need them.  Thank you to my friends that have stuck by me and helped me. Thank you to my softball team and coaches for always giving me a place to have fun and play softball. Thank you to my cousins for always amusing me even though I am much younger. Thank you to my uncles and aunts for finding ways for me to have fun. Thank you to my Hebrew School class and Bat Mitzvah club for teaching me about what being a Jew means. And thank you to Cantor Borsky for spending the past year helping prepare for this day. And lastly, thank you to everyone here for celebrating today with me.


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