Rabbi Ephraim Epstein
Those boys and girls who live in the Western Hemisphere and were unluckily born in the summer sure have it tough. Their birthdays are always when none of their friends are around. So some families make parties earlier, some make it later and some just give up celebrating. What about the Bar Mitzvah?
Towards the end of the summer a fine young man, Yonah, who hardly ever celebrated his birthday on time emerged as a Bar Mitzvah. The family was able to schedule it right after Camp Season concluded and before the beginning of the School Year. A warm mix of relatives, friends and congregational family were present for the great day.
After a fine davening, leyning and Dvar Torah the family invited their guests to sit down to the Bar Mitzvah Luncheon. The proud father, Heshy ascended the podium to welcome all of the guests and shared his and his son’s emotional and spiritual journey towards the Bar Mitzvah celebration.
You see, it was under two years ago that Yonah’s Zayde, an immigrant to this country passed away. Zayde was mentioned many times at the Simcha, and everyone felt his presence there. When Zayde died, it was decided that Yonah would have the merit, privilege and responsibility of wearing his Zayde’s Tefillin.
It was a challenge to find a skillful Sofer that was able to properly refurbish the aged Tefillin and prepare them for Yonah, but they did. The Tefillin were ready just in time for donning a few weeks before the Bar Mitzvah. Yonah’s face shone when we wore the Tefillin.
While all the preparations were taking place at home and in the shul, Heshy’s friends and colleagues at work and around town started asking him: “So what’s the theme”? Heshy was informed that some kids use Sports Teams, some like Sports Cars and others Musical Groups. Heshy started thinking maybe he forgot to create a theme.
The family discussed it and decided that indeed they did have a theme. Yonah’s theme is the same theme that Bar Mitzvah boys have celebrated for millennia – MITZVOTH-What a novelty. Yonah, Heshy, the entire family and all the guests sincerely celebrated a Jewish boys entree and acceptance of the Divine Commandments-Mitzvot.
This End of the Summer Bar Mitzvah punctuated a vital lesson about living a Torah True Life: When it comes to tradition and Mesorah, innovation detracts from the genuineness of the Tradition. We live in a fast paced and ever changing innovative world; but the best theme of a Bar Mitzvah is simply the Mitzvoth we have studied and practiced since Mt. Sinai.