13 Av 5780 / Monday, August 03, 2020 | Torah Reading: Eikev
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Turn on the Switch    

Turn on the Switch

My friend needed to go through a very hard time to get to the truth, you don’t have to do the same, you are already there, just turn on the switch...


Did you ever feel like what I used to feel like? You don’t know why you are keeping Shabbat, you are at shul and you turn the pages to see when the prayers will be over, you do mitzvoth in your routine like put on tefillin, but you just don’t feel it? Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to do anything and I just want to relax so I think: “Why am I here? What is my job in this world?” Welcome to my world, my name is Alty; I live in Jerusalem and I’m 14 years old.


When I was younger I had a friend who had cancer. For a long time he was struggling for his life. He was just like you and me, looking for why he is here. Then what everybody thought what was the worst thing of his life turned out to be the best thing of his life. After a long time he started to get better, we got the good news that he will be coming out of the hospital soon. From the first day that he was back he worked hard and started thinking, "Why am I here? What is my mission?” My friend felt like he got his life as a present from God and that he needed to show that he deserved it. The illness showed him what everyone should see: we got a present that we are alive today so we shouldn’t just waste it. We should say “thank You” to God that we are alive and that we can walk, talk, and move our hands.


Where I live in Jerusalem, there was a terrorist attack a few months ago. One morning a few Arab terrorists came to a synagogue where there were a lot of people praying. The terrorists hurt, shot and killed a few people from my neighborhood. On that day, everybody around thought, "Why wasn't I there? What is it that I did or need to do?"


You should know that the hardest things to get are the things that are most enjoyable in the end. It is like when you are playing basketball and you keep on missing your shots, you shoot and the ball just does not go in. Finally at the end of the game you hit the winner, it feels so good because you worked so hard for it. It’s the same thing in Judaism, you work so hard to wake up on time for shacharit and then finally one day you wake up early and get on time for davening. You should feel very good and think "Hey I just got Am Yisrael one step closer to the Beit Hamikdash, I just saved a guy on the other side of the world from getting hit by a car." You never know what you just saved when you do a mitzvah, you could be saving a different person, or you could be saving yourself from something that was supposed to happen. When I feel like I don’t want to do a mitzvah I just think "Do it for yourself, show yourself you can."


You can think about Shabbat in the way of not being able to do anything or you can think about it in a positive way like I'm so happy Shabbat is here. I can enjoy the good food, I can sing and pick which synagogue to go to. I don’t have to go to school! I can just rest and hang out with my family and friends. Some people think Shabbat is a task. Personally I think it is a joy and that it is a present from God.


My friend and all of the other people that have "woken up" and love the mitzvoth have a very special power. But each and every one of us also has it, they just turned on the switch. But everyone can do it not only huge tzadikim. The only thing that you need to do is to want and work for that desire. The thought I can't do it is not right because everybody can in Judaism and in life.


So how do we improve? I challenge you that the next time that you are falling asleep while you are doing a mitzvah you should think of my friend. You should think that you are pushing Clal Yisrael closer to the Beis Hamikdash and bringing the redemption one step closer. My friend needed to go through a very hard time to get to the truth, you don’t have to do the same, you are already there, just turn on the switch.

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