Welcome, bruchim habaim, Shabbat shalom, good shabbes……
Honoured rabbis, family and friends. What a wonderful day this is, and how awesome a gift it is to share it with all of you. I want to welcome all of you, and thank you for the effort you all have made to come and share in our simcha.
I want to wish a personal mazel tov all the grandparents, on the barmitzvah of your eldest grandchild. What a wonderful day this must be for you. May you shepp much yiddishe nachas from all your grandchildren. May we all celebrate many more smachot together. Amen.
The last few months have been so very busy with planning and lists, and lists of lists, all leading up to this glorious day. Today our bechor has officially become a man according to Jewish tradition.
Son #1, watching you grow up these last 13 years has been such a wonderful honour and privilege, and to know that you follow in our footsteps in your close relationship with G-d is a blessing beyond belief. Son #1, you have always been older than your years, you have displayed a thirst for knowledge about everything that is never satisfied. I love how tenacious you can be when looking for answers, when seeking the truth. You always listen to me, even though you know I can’t make you do anything seeing as you are now bigger than me. You work hard every day to try and make my life a little easier. You bring me joy every single day of your life. You are a fine example to your younger brothers, and I know sometimes their hero worship can get a little grating, but most of the time you take it in your stride. I am so proud of who you are, Son #1, and so very blessed to have had the privilege of raising you, of seeing you grow and develop, of seeing you achieve your personal goals.
I remember the Friday night after you were born, Sweetie, so clearly. I remember bensching you for the very first time, both Abba and I had tears rolling down our faces.
We blessed you, our son, that G-d should make you like Ephraim and Menashe. We asked G-d to bless you, and to watch over you. We asked him to shine His face towards you and show you favour. We asked G-d to be favourably disposed towards you, and then we asked him to show you Peace. We have continued to bless you and your brothers this way every Friday night. Every time I say the words I am moved.
Why do we bless our sons that they should be like Ephraim and Menashe. Who were these men that we want our sons to emulate them? They were the sons of Yosef, who was the second youngest son of Yaakov. What was so special about them? They were the only two of Yaakov’s grandsons that had tribes named after them. Yaakov looked upon them as sons rather than grandsons. Through reading and studying I have learned that these two brothers were possibly the first brothers in the history of the world to live together without rivalry. We all know about Cain and Abel, Yitzchak and Yishmael, Yaakov and Esav, and Yoseph’s brothers, well, they sold him into slavery. Talk about rivalry there!
In Tehillim (psalms) it says “how good and pleasant it is for brothers to sit peacefully together”. Surely this is a remez, a hint, to Ephraim and Menashe and the good example that they set.
Ephraim and Menashe always worked towards the greater good of the community, always putting their own personal needs aside. They worked side by side and never allowed ego to get the best of them.
We are also told Ephraim and Menashe were born and raised to maturity outside of Eretz Yisrael, in Egypt, a place rife with immorality and corruption. Despite their environment they held steadfast to their Jewish values and did not compromise their beliefs. It must have been difficult for them at times, but they held true. In this world there will be many temptations to stray from the path of truth, and blessing our sons in this manner reminds them, indeed it strengthens them by remembering the commitment these two forbears had to yiddishkeit, never compromising, never wavering, not even for a second.
I would like to take a moment to address 3 very special people who have not yet been mentioned. Son #2, Son #3 and Son #4. You have all been so understanding and accepting of Son #1’s moment in the spotlight. You have shown no jealousy nor rivalry, and for that I thank you. Son #2, don’t get too comfortable where you are, 13 months from now it’s your turn, you had better start learning soon, and yes you will have to wear a suit then too. Thank you for being you, for your loving hugs and cuddles, for your unending devotion to my cooking. Your smile makes my heart sing. Son #3, you have a while to go till it is your turn and I know you want to be all grown up already, but you are at a wonderful age and I want you to enjoy being a kid for a while longer ok? Carry on laughing your magical laugh for it warms my very soul. Son #4, where are the words to tell you how yummy and cute and delicious you are, and how your excitement for every little discovery you make translates to a smile in my heart? I love you.
I am so blessed to stand before you all today. I make this promise in front of all of you. I will continue to raise my sons in the warmth and love of Yiddishkeit, I promise to do my best to continue to imbue in them a sense of belonging to their people. I thank G-d for His abundant gifts, and I thank Him for the opportunity of having these children in my life. While we may never know what’s in store for us, I have faith that it will all be for the good.
Son #1, sweetheart, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you a sincere mazel tov on your barmitzvah. You have worked hard and earned your moment in the spotlight. I am so very proud of you. I love you so very much.