Blog  NFTY-CAR: Danielle Wright Talks Torah

NFTY-CAR: Danielle Wright Talks Torah

The following is a selection from a D’var Torah given by Danielle Wright at NFTY-CAR Kolbo, May 3rd, 2014.


When I read this week’s Torah portion my first thought was “Wow, G-d is not only ADHD, but also egocentric.” and then I thought “Uh-oh”…I just called G-d ADHD AND egocentric.

But, let me explain. This portion goes from talking about the dead and how a living person should approach the dead with no bald head, no shaving of the beard, and no purposeful cuts on the body. That’s fine.

But THEN it jumps to how a man can’t marry a woman who has had previous relations, if you know what I mean.

And THEN it jumps again to HOW to marry a proper woman, and then being holy and not holy.

But THEN it jumps one more time to how G-d is Holy and echad (One). I’m all kosher with G-d being Holy and One, but we were talking about the dead, and then BAM: it’s the G-d show.

I thought of this week’s Torah portion like an iPhone, and more specifically like a Twitter feed.

I’m not saying that G-d had intended to give Moses the 10 commandments for them to shatter like my four iPhone screens, nor did G-d know how to tweet, twert, or toot or whatever we do on Twitter. But I think of the Torah as like a Twitter feed, a never ending stream of text that reminds us of the laws and that Adonai Echad. That G-d is one.

When I have my ADHD moments, like this week’s portion, I can jump from one unique thought to another.  If I think of something completely unique like “Why do freckles form?” I go and look it up.

I HAVE to look it up!

I become more educated.

I learn, just like how we learn from Torah.

After reading this week’s portion, I had a lot of questions that I went to look up. I then had a second thought. While at a NFTY event my emotions are just as scattered. Leading up to the event, my stomach turns with excitement. When I get off the bus and have a friend jump into my arms, my heart pounds with love. When 200 teens gather into the rotunda or sanctuary and belt out the first song of shabbos, I get chills. When we come together for Beit Midrash and open our hearts, I feel a connection.Lastly, when we huddle together, and sing Sweet Mother I’m Coming Home as the busses rumble in, I feel excitement to start counting down the days again, and a little bit of sadness.

Just like Leviticus, a NFTYites emotions are all over the place. But just like a teen’s Twitter feed, we occasionally see one prevailing thought. Sometimes the prevailing message can be a blessing.

As I completed my thought process, I reflected on my NFTY experience.I remember one particular topic. B’tzelem Elohim. In the image of G-D. (It also happens to be my favorite Dan Nichols song!)   None the less, after pondering my original reaction to the Torah portion, I began to wonder about how I am looked at by G-D. Because I perceived this Torah portion to be a little ADHD, does that therefore make me ADHD? I also had an initial reaction to this portion being egocentric. Does this make me an egocentric person?I then wondered that if G-D is Holy and One, are WE, then, Holy and One?

If the answer to that question is yes, then does having an add-on to our personality (that of being ADHD or being egocentric) make us more or less “Holy”, more or less “One”?

I personally think that our add-ons are G-d making us more unique. Each of us can have similarities, but by having a touch of uniqueness, it makes us pretty interesting creatures. Isn’t that what had G-d had intended?

It also amazes me that, through our uniqueness and differences, we find commonalities. Like our love for Judaism and, more interestingly, for NFTY.

As I start the next chapter in my life I pray that I will carry the ADHD emotions of NFTY to college. As I attend University next year I want the thrills of meeting new faces, but also the chills of a kehila kedosha. The boom of a stomp-clap won’t be replaceable, but the boom that you all have left in my heart will be felt through the next generation, and cherished and treasured the rest of my life.

I’ve been lucky, blessed enough to have stood before this region at least 6 times in the past 4 years. As I look at you – the next generation – I see that it’s my time to go.  My time to find a new kehillah kedosha to stand in front of in College, and to start taking the next steps of my life.

Lastly, I pray that you experience the wide variety of emotions, and education like that we just learned from Leviticus.