My Speech for Mo’s Barmitzvah
This Shabbat we were blessed to celebrate the barmitzvah of my youngest son, Mo. It was an amazing weekend. Here, as requested, is my speech.
Kvod Harav, Honored guests.
Welcome to Moshe’s barmitzvah. This long anticipated day has finally arrived – and Moshe did a wonderful job this morning. I am sure he’s very proud of himself, but also relieved that that part is over.
Mo asked me not to get emotional during my speech. I considered his request….for a nanosecond… If I didn’t get emotional, how would he know it was me that was speaking?!
Before I get into the rest of my speech, Mo, Grandma and Saba asked me to read out a message to you. They are so sad not to be here with us.
So glad I bought those shares in Kleenex.
Mo, I recently shared the story with you of how you almost didn’t exist. Early on in my pregnancy with you the doctors told me that your heart had stopped beating and that the baby (you) didn’t exist anymore, and they wanted to perform a certain surgery that they sometimes do when this kind of thing happens. We had an ultrasound and they had seen no heartbeat and wanted Abba and I to face the reality that we had lost you. I told them that they were wrong. They pushed. I refused to be pushed. I asked for time to consult my rabbi before agreeing to the surgery. I tried for 24 hours to reach him – and he was usually so reachable. We didn’t manage to reach him.
Finally, Mo, I asked the doctor to arrange for another ultrasound and if there was no heartbeat I’d have to let them proceed with surgery. We showed up for the ultrasound, and the tech wasn’t happy to see us. But she had a job to do, which she did, with a bad attitude emanating from her. After all we had just been there the day before.
I turned to watch her face as the scan began, because maybe I could find some answers there, and was astonished to see a tear roll down her face. She picked up the phone and called a doctor in. Within minutes we were told that there was a strong heartbeat, that my baby was healthy and growing within me, and that this made no sense. That there was no way that this could actually happen.
Mo, you are a miracle child (or do I call you a miracle man now?) and a bracha – and not one day goes by that I don’t thank Hashem for you. You were the most trouble before you were born – I was stuck in bed for 7 months while waiting for you to be ready to be born. And when it was time for you to be born, you had to go and be stubborn about it, and refused to come out without help. I have no idea where that stubbornness comes from. None at all.
But since then, Mo, what a pleasure you have been. Yes, these days you tend to roll your eyes behind my back (I have eyes in the back of my head. I SEE IT ALL) and you seem to have honed your sarcasm skills – funny story, a couple of months back Mo said something sarcastic, and I said to him “I really wish I would have had at least ONE kid who wasn’t sarcastic.” He turned to me, and with a twinkle in his eye, said “So how’s that working for you Ima?”
Getting back to the theme, even given the sarcasm and eye rolling, you are an awesome kid, and I say that completely without bias. I don’t know of any other 13 year old that comes home from school, and says “Hi Ima, How are you? How was your day? Is there anything I can help you with?” And you mean it. And you sometimes seem disappointed that i have nothing for you to help with.
Your brothers sometimes complain that I spoil you or baby you, and that you get privileges at 13 that they didn’t get till 16, and that I let you get away with everything because you’re the baby. No. It’s because there is nothing you can do that they haven’t already put me through, there’s nothing you can say that they haven’t said to me, and I am a lot older than I was when they were your age. I’m tired. And so much wiser…..
Your two oldest brothers are living in Israel. Sadly Aryeh couldn’t be with us today because he is busy being a soldier and protecting Israel. (OK, he has an off-Shabbat right now and is probably sleeping…. but you know what I mean). Naftali is about to draft to the army in a few short months. Avraham will be there from next summer. These adult brothers of yours – I wonder if they know how proud you are of them, Mo, and how your eyes shine when you hear their Israel stories. They followed their dream, and are putting themselves on the line for the sake of Israel – that is bravery, that is sacrifice, that is something we can only hope to emulate – to believe in something bigger than ourselves. I know your heart is just as big as your brothers’ and I know you will go far in life.
In closing Mo, I wish you a mazal tov. You cannot possibly know how proud of you I am, we all are. I know you will continue giving us nachat for many years to come…. with a good helping of sarcasm and eye rolling mixed in. I love you, Mo.