Written by 6th grader Mollie Glazer, who will become a Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat
For the past two years, my Mom and I have been learning Seder Moed, which contains the mishnayot talking about the holidays and festivals. Together, we learned masechtot Shabbat, Sukkah, Rosh Hashanah, and Yoma. These are the holidays in תשרי around my birthday. I was born on the first day of Sukkot, so learning about them was meaningful to me.
I noticed an interesting connection between the holiday of Sukkot and Parshat Noach, which I am leyning this Shabbat - the theme of water. I noticed that water in these two places is used in very different ways. In Noach there is a huge flood and the water is used for destructive purposes. It is used to destroy life. However, on Sukkot, as I learned in masechet Sukkah, we pray for water, because water is used to bring life to humans, plants and animals.
In the fourth chapter of masechet Sukkah, we learn about a special ritual that was done in the beit hamikdash called nisuch hamayim. It was done all 7 days of Sukkot, where the kohanim would pour water onto the mizbeach and it was done with a lot of celebration. In fact, there was another ceremony done on Sukkot called the simchat beit hashoevah, where they would dance all night in celebration of drawing water from the Shiloach stream each morning for the nisuch hamayim ritual. And the Mishnah teaches us that whoever hasn’t seen the simchat beit hashoevah has never seen joy. These rituals were all done so that God would bless the Jewish people with a year of good rain.
How interesting is it that last week, on Sukkot, we were singing and dancing for water, that the water should come in its proper time and be a blessing for us. Yet in Parashah Noach, it is a destructive force that kills living creatures. And this got me thinking, what other things can be both destructive and productive, depending on how they are used? I know we can’t control how water is used, but two things came to mind that we can control. The first is our hands. We can either use our hands for productive purposes, like doing mitzvot, building a sukkot, or giving tzedakah, or we can use our hands to hurt people. Another thing is our speech. Our language can be used for good, like praising Hashem, or lifting people up, or it could be used to hurt people’s feelings or for lashon harah. This lesson teaches us that we need to be very careful in how we use the things that we can control. Especially our speech and our hands. I think this lesson is always relevant.