Shiriyah Winning Dvar Torah- Day 3: Our Personal Journey Through the Desert
Updated: Apr 6
Every single year, our faculty works long hours to figure out a Shiriyah theme so well-crafted that it has the capacity to trigger an array of questions, leaving our students wondering how to elaborate on it and connect it to their own grades. After hearing Mrs. Septimus reveal our theme, only one question consumed my mind: How could one ever compare a group of 17-year-olds to a nation that has survived trials and tribulations that none of us can even begin to imagine. After sitting on my own for a while, grappling with this question, giving it some time, and discussing it with a few of our wise faculty, something was made clear to me.
This year's senior class is actually a microcosm of Am Yisrael during different points in their journey.
For instance, after the Exodus from Egypt, Am Yisrael stood at the bottom of Mount Sinai in complete awe and fear of Hashem, their eyes wide open and their hands trembling. They couldn’t bear to hear God’s powerful voice as he began to recite the 10 commandments. As if looking into a mirror, those same trembling hands can be seen on the bodies of our freshman-year selves, reaching for those cold double glass doors and wondering what was to come in the following years. We had no idea what to expect, yet we did what we were told as the Jews did at Har Sinai. "נעשה ונשמע" - we will do and we will listen - said Bnei Yisrael. We decided to trust the process.
The following year, our sophomore year-selves enjoyed our time during the beginning of the school year and looked ahead to our next Shiriyah, Pesach, the last day of classes, and summer, for them all to be ripped away by a simple six-letter word- Corona. The separation and disconnection we felt during this time was indescribable, much like that of Am Yisrael during the times of exile after the Babylonians destroyed the first Beit Hamikdash. In a sense, both Nevuchadnetzar and the coronavirus put our respective “nations” in a state of separation, one that we felt we may never recover from.
Our disconnect from sophomore year only continued to lengthen, followed by many hardships in our Junior year. Socially, that sense of unity was struggling to come alive. Academically, students spent sleepless nights typing, reading, and writing away, straining every muscle in their arms, like the backs of am Yisrael during their struggling times in Egypt under Pharaoh's control. It was clear that both our grade and Am Yisrael were seen as one, yet we still didn't feel united.
Finally came senior year. This year. Our last year. It began much like the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim. Busy with college applications and bombarded with work, we constantly had our doubts, just like Am Yisrael did when deciding whether or not they had made the right decision by leaving their home of many years and moving on with their lives. Finally having a role to be proud of, and people to stand by our side, we both came to our senses and took the opportunity to grow closer, stronger, and more united than ever. We became a family. The bonds that existed and continue to exist between us, as Jews, and as peers, are unbreakable.
Our senior class is a modern-day microcosm of Am Yisrael. While they saw a sheepherder, a prophet, a Kohen Gadol, I see a debater, an athlete, and an aspiring doctor. The parallels are there, and I'm only here to emphasize them.
Not only does this parallel go to show the similarities in our experiences, but also the fact that, like am Yisrael, just as our theme states, and from the words of Korach himself, “ The entire community is holy.” Every single one of us is an "adam kadosh," a holy person. Every freshman, every sophomore, every junior, and every single senior. And no matter the outcome of this competition, I hope that everyone here has felt the feeling of kedusha that this Shiriyah was meant to bring.
To the senior class, I could not be more proud to be part of such a unified group. We've had our fair share of imperfections, but I can honestly say that I truly wish a senior year as amazing as this one for every other grade!