Wednesday, January 13, 2016

To Maayan on Becoming a Bas Mitzvah


I don’t know if you remember this, but I always speak directly to the one having the bar, or in this case, bas mitzvah, and allow everybody else to listen.

Being that you were born on Rosh Chodesh, you chose to speak about Rosh Chodesh. I’d like to speak to you about two other words which share the שורש of ח.ד.ש.


Tonight, everything is new and exciting. Each mitzva you do beginning tonight will feel exciting as you think about the fact that you are doing it as a metzuvah, one who is commanded, for the first time. Over time however, that natural excitement will fade, and there is the risk that the מצות will start to feel boring or stale. There is also the challenge of having  to do the mitzvos as one who is commanded, rather than by choice. One of the challenges we all have is to try and make each mitzvah that we do exciting, meaningful, and something we want to do. Although we won’t succeed each time, with real effort we will often manage to succeed.

In Shemos 19:1 we read
בחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁלִישִׁי לְצֵאת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה בָּאוּ מִדְבַּר סִינָי:
(א) ביום הזה - Rashi
בראש חודש. לא היה צריך לכתוב אלא ביום ההוא, מהו ביום הזה?
שיהיו דברי תורה חדשים עליך כאלו היום נתנו:

Rashi explains that the Torah used the word הזה rather than ההוא to teach us that we should try to make each day of learning (and I would add mitzvah observance) as exciting as the day we received the Torah. The more you learn about each mitzvah, the more you strive to understand the details as well as the Taamei HaMitzvos, trying to understand the reasons behind the mitzvos, the more you will keep them fresh, exciting and new.


When a child is born we give the parents the beracha that the baby should be raised to Torah, chuppah, and maasim tovim-  The wish is not just that you learn Torah, but also that the learning should be serious and passionate. Don’t be satisfied to just understand it basically. Look deep inside each thing you learn. Search inside it because each word of Torah contains so much within it. There is also something to be learned from the Torah you learn, including your davening. Aim to find something new each time you learn, just like you are doing something new bayom hazeh.

Maayan, you are blessed to have a mother who is a role-model for you in this regard, as well as so many others. Mommy’s commitment to Torah and mitzvot, her love and her hunger for learning are one of the first things that caused me to fall in love with her. Each time I see her light the Shabbos candles, I am in awe, and, I must admit, a little jealous. I wish I could do mitzvos with same commitment and energy that mommy does them. Mommy listens to shiurim while preparing food for Shabbos, and finds time each week to learn with her chavrusa from Partners in Torah.

You are also blessed to have siblings who love you and from whom you can learn a lot. Since you are a woman, I particularly want to mention Chavi who sets an amazing example for what a commitment to Torah, mitzvos and a relationship with HaShem looks like.

I am so happy that you are surrounded by so many people who love you, including family and friends. Still, I am a little sad that my parents are no longer with us and able to be here. I know they’d be very proud of you. I am happy for you that you have such wonderful grandparents as safti and grandpa. who both model for you a commitment to growth, learning, and trying new and challenging things. While I am glad that you are surrounded by many relatives, including uncles, aunts, and cousins, I know that your aunt, uncle and cousins in Israel love you so much and wish they could be here to celebrate with you.

Maayan, you are bright, creative and have a lot of passion. You have a commitment to justice, and a big heart. I look forward to watching you bring these traits to your observance and learning of Torah, and to your performance of mitzvos, and most importantly, your relationship with HaShem.

Mazal tov!

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