Thursday, March 17, 2016

Snapshot from a Davis Alum

Harrison Lipsky ('12) shared a D'var Torah at last evening's Board Meeting. Those in attendance encountered a young man with a strong sense of self, a bright and exciting future, and deep appreciation for his years at Davis. As he says in his Dvar Torah, "Without Davis, my life would be radically different."

Vayikra D’Var Torah
Good evening! My name is Harrison Lipsky, a Davis alumnus class of 2012. I currently am a student at Riverwood International Charter School in Sandy Springs, Georgia and will be attending Cornell University this fall; I am currently ranked sixth in my graduating class of over 400 students and am an IB Diploma Candidate. I have achieved great success in the classroom through winning third honors at the Georgia State Science fair, participating in the National competition for the Future Business Leaders of America, and receiving a college book award, among other accolades. Outside of the classroom, I have achieved great success in athletics. I am the captain of the St. Andrew Rowing Club Varsity Men and recently finished third place individually for lightweight men in the state of Georgia at a rowing machine competition.

Enough about me! Onto the Parsha! This week’s Parsha is Vayikra. Vaykira literally translates to “And He called.” It is the first Parsha of the book of Leviticus in the Torah. The Parsha is a description of the laws of sacrifice. It begins with laws regarding which animals could be used for burnt sacrifice. It stipulates how some offerings maybe cooked and which ingredients they could and could not contain. The Parsha then shifts to a discussion of the correct way to spread blood along the altar. Finally, it describes the animals that are suitable for Sin and Guilt offerings. Sin offerings are sacrifices that are required when a person commits acts such as touching something that is unclean or breaking an oath. Guilt offerings are performed when a person is “unwittingly remiss about any sacred thing.”

Clearly, animal sacrifice is a retired practice today but the relevant aspect of the Parsha I want to stress is heritage. When studying this Parsha, the most apparent theme is that of sacrifice. Sacrifice is a part of our heritage as Jews. Similarly, Davis is a part of my own personal heritage.

To establish this connection one Hebrew word is especially significant, “Korban.” Korban is the word used to describe sacrificial offerings commanded by the Torah. Its most literal English translation is “to draw close.” When someone went to the Beit Ha Mikdash to make a sacrifice, they did so to draw closer to God. They attempted to grow closer to God by giving him a living thing which could sustain us to draw closer to God and express our appreciation of Him.

Davis is a part of my heritage. Is it a part of me that still defines me to this day. Even though I do not still attend Davis, similar to how the Jews currently do not practice sacrifice, Davis is still a part of my heritage. Davis established the basis for my knowledge of Judaism and provided a foundation for my connection with God. I learned the importance of Jewish values and customs from Davis.

Although rowing practices occur every Friday evening and every Saturday morning during synagogue, my lack of time in synagogue has not limited my connection with God. At every practice I feel God with me. After making it through each rigorous practice, I thank God for blessing me with the Koach, strength, to finish each practice and perform my best and for Manhigut, leadership, to aid my fellow teammates and guide the younger rowers. Each day I reflect upon all that God has given me and say thank you. This spiritual connection with God would not have been possible without my heritage, the Davis Academy. Without Davis, my knowledge of my Jewish faith would be limited. Without Davis, my life would be radically different.

Davis today is not an active part of my life, just how sacrifice is not an active Jewish practice. However, both sacrifice and my Davis experience serve a significant role as important pieces of heritage. I can attribute a great deal of my current success to my appreciation of all that God has blessed me with. This appreciation developed due to the teachings I received from my tenure at the Davis Academy. I owe an eternal thanks to this great institution, its faculty, and all the great things it has brought into my life. 

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