Reflections on a Bar Mitzvah

Thursday, 1 May, 2014 - 1:42 pm

As our family prepares to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of our son Sholom this weekend, I stole a few minutes away from the preparations to reflect on Bar Mitzvahs in general and my Bar Mitzvah in particular.

The phrase Bar Mitzvah is a curious one. The use of the word Bar (son in Aramaic) is most likely because  Aramaic was the “vernacular” for the Jewish people at the time that the phrase was formalized. These days the term makes one wonder whether some of these parties are more Bar than Mitzvah…

The other odd thing about the phrase Bar Mitzvah, is the singular use of the word Mitzvah rather than the plural – Mitzvot.

Malkie shared with me what her grandfather, Rabbi Eliyahu Machlis OBM, said at her brother’s Bar Mitzvah. A Bar Mitzvah boy should learn from this that as he approaches his new responsibility for Mitzvah observance, he should view each Mitzvah as the only one rather than one of many Mitzvot. Each individual Mitzvah should be precious and unique to him.

Some of my own Bar Mitzvah memories include the special opportunity I had to receive a blessing from the Rebbe together with other Bar Mitzvahs boys my age. After the blessing we each had a chance to hand the Rebbe a letter request for blessing and he gave us each a dollar for Tzedakah. I also remember the Aliyah I got in 770, the Rebbe’s Shul. It was on a weekday morning and after receiving the Kohen Aliya I remained close to the Bima while the Rebbe was called for the last Aliya. This gave me a chance to observe from up close.

My Bar Mitzvah reception was held at the uptown JCC. I remember sitting up on a podium with my father and two grandfathers. Being the only guy my age up there was a little lonely… I remember feeling a wonderful sense of being surrounded by family warmth with my immediate family, all of my grandparents and many uncles, aunts and cousins present. I cannot say that I recall growing up all of a sudden. But I am certain that it was the beginning of that process (that may still be in progress:-).

Raising a child to this stage of life requires effort and we do not take our jobs lightly. We are very proud of Sholom and we look forward to have continued Nachas from him as he goes through life.

We are excited to be celebrating with family and friends. Thank you to all of you that have conveyed good wishes. We look forward to returning those good wishes to you at your Simchas.

Our condolences to Lupin family upon the passing of Dr. Ralph Lupin. Dr. Lupin was prominent member of the Jewish community who was involved in and supported many important causes.

Have a good Shabbos!
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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