By Davita Siegel
There are some experiences in life you simply want to be special. You picture the moment; perhaps a person of wisdom passing something down to the younger generation. As the parent, looking on, hoping the experience will click...
My husband Mark and I had been promising Ethan that we would take him to purchase tefilin for his upcoming Bar Mitzva. We pictured it to be a special day. Initially we were encouraged to go to a particular Jewish bookstore in our Jewish neighborhood. Later on, we received more information about another place where we could go that might be even better.
As plans continued to unfold for this long-awaited day, we lovingly began to put together a group of people who would accompany us in helping Ethan purchase his tefilin. I was so glad that my life-long friends father would be able to join us. Additionally, Ethans Hebrew school teacher, a wonderful mentor and friend was also available to come. Each agreed to give so kindly of his time and love to Ethan. Each did research to make sure we were to purchase the best, but give us price options.
What a blessing.
Together with all of this joy was a touch of sadness for me. Why couldnt my own father (or even one of my own grandfathers) be there? Or my mom?
I picture the joy that each of them would get from Ethan. No doubt my mothers endless love would radiate. I see my father kvell with pride. I see him have patience with Ethan as they discuss and laugh. And I see my dad step outside his box to go to synagogue with Ethan and pray with him... enter his world of structure and knowledge and understanding. When Ethan asks him, Why dont you believe? My dad quietly answers him and smiles. And although he believes he is too old to change, he goes along with Ethan because he grew up in a traditional Jewish home and is familiar enough and they can connect for just that moment. This is a good day!
We arrived at the small holiday art fair. Ethans Bar Mitzvah tutor will be there. He is a very kind and special man. In addition to Judaica and Jewish art, there was a wonderful Lubavitcher rabbi there from the Mitzvah Campaign selling kosher scrolls for mezuzot and tefilin. Ethan and I stopped by to speak with him. Ethan asked many questions, and the rabbi explained everything, showing us how the tefilin are made and adding that he purchased scrolls only from certified scribes in Israel. It was so interesting; we must have stopped back at the booth at least three times.
Gently, Ethan asked me, What should I do? I dont want to upset our friends, but I think I would like the tefilin from the Mitzvah Campaign booth. I told him that he needed to make the decision, and the others would understand. Ethan was deep in thought about what to do.
We took our last trip back to the booth. Ethan said to the rabbi, I dont know which set to buy; the good set or the better set. Rabbi replied saying that he could not make the decision for him. Ethan was deep in thought.
I LOVE that! To see your own child deep in the thinking process... what a gift! I silently, in awe, watched his mind working. Ethan makes passionate decisions about things he is serious about.
The Rabbi asked him what made him want one pair of tefilin vs. the other. Ethan said, Well, if I put some money in and my mom and dad pay some and the better set can last a lifetime, then over a lifetime, the $50.00 I put in isnt a lot, because I will make a lot more money than that in my life. So I think I want the better one.
Ethan picked out a nice bag to hold his tefilin. The rabbi said, Because your parents and you both made an investment, I would like to make an investment also. Rabbi said he offered to have Ethans name monogrammed on his tefilin bag. ...And I will pay for it and mail it to you. Do you want your English or Hebrew name? Ethan wanted his Hebrew name on the bag.
Later, after we left the synagogue with the tefilin, Ethan shared with me how excited he was and that he could not wait until his next Bar Mitzva lesson to practice putting them on. He also said something to me that I thought was special for a 12-year-old boy. Mom, he said, Rabbi is very warm. I agreed and told him that I thought it was great that he noticed.
On that very special day, just a few months before our sons Bar Mitzva, we all grew a bit closer and perhaps grew a little more.