This past Shabbos Kodesh was our son’s bar mitzvah. It was a beautiful simcha bringing together family and friends from Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Ohio, Louisiana, Florida, New Jersey, and New York. We are so grateful to so many friends that helped make our son’s bar mitzvah an incredible experience. I shared the following with about 75 family members and close friends prior to lunch.
Rav Joseph Solveitchik zt’l , the former dean of Yeshiva University’s rabbinic program once said that, “A person’s birthday is the day that Hashem decided that the world couldn’t go on without you”.
On Thursday morning, Eli Meir, your birthday, you read from the Torah at school during minyan and got your first aliya. It seems that you were waiting your whole life for this moment. Even when you were 1 and a half, you would dress up in hat and use your blanket as tallis. We all thought you were playing, but as I look back know, you were not playing, you were in spring training, waiting for baseball season to start.
Just over 13 years ago we gave you your name. Eliezer Meir, you were named after mommy’s great-great grandfather and my great grandfather. Not only did we pick the names to attach you to our family trees, but the meaning of your name is very special.
Eliezer, means “my God helps”. I know that you have seen this in your own life, but you should always remember that Hashem is with you to help you, no matter what challenges you have in life. Mommy and I will always be there, too, no matter what happens in life, we love you and know the greatness inside you. Meir means “to bring light”. Since you were born you had a gift of making everyone you know feel happy and you bring light to our whole family. You are thoughtful, funny, bright, and helpful. You have always brightened up the lives of others.
I remember how Bubbie a’h use to talk to you on the phone and then tell mommy that talking to you was like medicine that made her feel better. I remember Zaidy a’hbeing so happy whenever we would visit him and loved talking to you on the phone. Especially while watching baseball, football, and basketball. Grandpa a’h loved coming to visit us and he always loved seeing you and was always thrilled when I told him an “Eli Meir” story. Grandma and Nana always tell me how you are such a special person. I don’t tell you this to embarrass you, only so you should know that you bring light everyone that you meet. This is one of the many gifts you have.
You rocked today, buddy. Mommy and I knew that you could do it and your leining was amazing. For the past whenever anyone found out your Bar Mitzvah was Parshas Noach, they all said, “wow that’s a tough parsha”. I then said, “Shhh, don’t tell Eli that.” I hope you will always be proud of what you’ve done today, Eli. Mommy kept on telling you that you could do it and she was right.
Originally, I had wanted to a special story with you, but we can do the next time we walk to shul together. Instead, I will share a teaching of Rabbi Kalonymous Kalman Shaprio, the Piaseczna Rebbe. He was the last remaining Rebbe in the Warsaw Ghetto and today is his yartzeit. The Rebbe taught that “The most important thing in the world is to do someone else a favor.” This teaching sums up the type of man you are, Eli. Since you were little you were always finding ways to make others feel better and help them. Once, in kindergarten you even showed a friend how to roller blades. He kept falling down and you then fell down on purpose and told him that everyone falls sometime. Even this past Simchas Torah, you ran across the street to the old Klal Chassidim building to get a stranger an English Hebrew Siddur.
Today at the kiddush and here now, you are surround by people who wanted to be with you. They didn’t come for the chullent or the kugel, or because they like to get up early. They came because they love you and you are important to them. As we all look around this room, there are those who we are missing. I know that Bubbie a’h, Zaidy a’h, and Grandpa a’h have been watching you this whole time.
Joanie has pretty much done everything to make this Bar Mitzvah a success. To say that it couldn’t have happened without you is… well, the truth. Thank you for teaching Eli to believe in himself. You have given him the best present in the world.