Friday, July 25, 2008

The Bar Mitzvah Speech, Act I

One the one hand, the Torah portion for September 13th is the shortest of the year. On the other hand, it has 74 out of the 613 mitzvot, more than any other in the Torah. Bad for me and bad for Bar Mitzvahzilla, but good for the Torah.

I work hard at this raising kid thing and I'm a really good student so I go about helping BZ the way I'd want to be helped if I was the BZ. I sign him up for study sessions with the Cantor, with the Rabbi, with his Hebrew Tutor. I even let him go to his teenaged female tutor, who happens to be Muslim, at his academic tutoring facility and work on his speech there because I figure a speech is a speech and has certain immutable components, right? Wrong.

Bar Mitzvahzilla and the academic tutor come away with the worst draft ever. There's this theme of compassion running through the Torah portion so the tutor has him make up instances in which he's seen compassion displayed in his life. Let's ignore for a moment the idea that he doesn't remember ever seeing me or Husband displaying compassion - that's troubling enough. But let's just imagine the horror of BZ standing up in front of the congregation at his Bar Mitzvah, a full member of the Jewish community now, and LYING. Does this bother him? In response, BZ hems and haws, "Well, yeah. I was thinking about that."

So now I'm on a mission, trying to solve the problem of why he's not inspired enough by his Torah portion to write about it and about what it means to him to be a Bar Mitzvah. I think if I just find the right source, he'll feel the enthusiasm I feel. We go on and listen to Rebbetzin Jungreis' explanation of the portion, which is about 8 hours long. We make it through half an hour before he has to go to bed. We go to and find a mitzvot by mitzvot parsing of the parshah, which I print. Now I have it in for Bar Mitzvahzilla. On the cruise he's going to be studying this and then writing the speech. There. I'll show him the meaning of compassion.

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