Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, April 18, 2024

Compost in the Daylight: Accidental blessings

Some blessings can lead to unexpected results.

image (1).png

A bundled stack of Bat Mitzvah t-shirts is pictured.

“My bat mitzvah merch was a legendary, lime-green horror.”

At the end of a bar or bat mitzvah, the guests usually leave with a gift that showcases the child’s initials, service date and usually a silly symbol referencing the theme of their party.

My theme was green.

So, after a long night of dancing, my friends and family grabbed the gift — a lime-green long-sleeve T-shirt — and proudly wore it over their suits and dresses.

I remember spending a ridiculous amount of time on Custom Ink. I knew the merch was going to be a tie-dye long-sleeve. As a club soccer player, the shirts were all the rage at weekend tournaments. And for the graphic situation, well, I had the most intelligent idea. It wasn’t just going to be all about “green.”

My torah portion, Numbers 6:24-27, was about the priestly benediction, which is a three-fold blessing performed by a rabbi during Shabbat. The rabbi lifts their hands and separates their fingers into two clumps, making a V between their middle and ring fingers. Then they chant three lines, encouraging peace for the members of the synagogue.

This practice enchanted the actor Leonard Nimoy as a young Jew, so much so that he replicated it in the “Star Trek” (1979–) Vulcan salute with the accompanying phrase, “Live long and prosper.”

I latched onto the pop culture connection and made it the thesis of my service speech. I also ordered nearly 300 shirts with the two V-shaped hands on their fronts.

When the order arrived, I pulled a shirt over my scrawny preteen figure and raced into the kitchen. I expected an equally glowing response from my mother, but instead, her face twisted in horror.

What was wrong with my brilliant, culturally relevant, perfect creation?

There was no time nor justifiable funds to replace the gift. So, there they were, my middle-school friends, my aunts and uncles and everyone in between wearing lime green, tie-dye, long-sleeve shirts with two hands placed prominently on their chests.

In the years after, I gave away all the leftover shirts, extremely embarrassed of my misled creation.

To write this column, though, I dug up the speech I gave at 13 years old. It explained the connection between the priestly benediction and “Star Trek.” My words were convincing and well written. And at the end, I explained Nimoy believed “it’s great” that, now, people walk around, flashing the Vulcan salute thinking it’s cool, unaware they are all giving each other accidental blessings.

In a way, those close to me did something similar. They sported those shirts for years because they thought they were cool. They didn’t know they were strutting around with a crude joke on their chests.

But my guests were also ignorant to the very old symbol of peace — that is, if their attention broke during my speech. So, there they were, blessing all those passing individuals, whose wandering eyes fell on the two hands splayed across their chests.