My child is only two and I’m already thinking about his Bar Mitzvah. I have issues. Actually, I’m singing at a Bar Mitzvah service tonight, which is bringing up visions of my kid’s big day years from now. Hopefully, his hair won’t be frizzed out and layered too short like mine was that day. Sorry I digress.
A Bar Mitzvah is a special day when a Jewish boy becomes a man at the age of 13. Girls become women at the age of 12, celebrating their Bat Mitzvahs.
I’m wondering what I might tell my young man slash boy slash son at this time. I wonder if he will listen. Here is some advice that most Jewish children never hear from their elders, but I wish they did:
Follow Your Joy
It’s hard to not let money influence your decisions. Maybe you want to play music professionally but wonder how will you make a decent living. You may decide to go to law school out of fear, even though law doesn’t interest you. It’s easy to pick a path that you think might be financially stable. But by following your joy, you will be lead to true stability, happiness and a road that’s right for you. From there money, will follow. If it doesn’t, you can always crash on your nana’s couch!
Just because you’re a man, doesn’t mean you have to be so serious. Always play, even as adult. Laugh and smile every day. Whether you play sports, music, board games, tell jokes, dance, draw or by simply just let loose. Play means taking time off, having fun and letting go. That’s where we find joy in life. We play so easily as kids and that joy you get from those moments are just as important for your health and happiness in your adult years.
Live In the I Don’t Know
Now that you’re a man, you might think you know everything. That extra testosterone makes many men walk around like they know it all, with their chests puffed high. But the opposite is true. When we keep our minds open, let life guide us, and understand that we really don’t know much of anything, then everything is possible. When we know everything, we limit all opportunities in our lives. When we don’t know, we actually know everything.
Listen to Yourself Before Others
Only you really know what’s good and right for you. Everyone will try to steer you in what they think is the right direction. Parents might think you should go to a certain school, or become an engineer or doctor. But only you know what you should be doing with your life. Trust me, it’s hard for me that tell you not to listen to your parents. But the best thing I can teach you is how to be your own teacher. When you sit quiet, and listen to that voice inside, not your head, you will be given the best advice you will ever hear. You just gotta be calm and sit still to hear it!
Know Who You Are
We all have very active minds with many thoughts that pass through our heads all the time. But just because you think something, doesn’t mean it’s true. Your mind will fool you in many ways. Instead listen to your heart and your gut instead to guide you through life. That deeper self is who you really are. Your main job in life is to get to know that person, the real you.
It’s hard to imagine our babies coming of age, but it will happen before we know it. Hopefully when that time comes, it will be filled with celebration and lots of wisdom they get from us, but more importantly from themselves. There’s a song from Fiddler on the Roof we’ve started singing and dancing to at home with our toddler that goes, “To Life, To Life, Le Chaim.” Yes we are addicted to schmaltzy musicals. May we be singing and dancing with the same joy and silliness when our children becomes adults too. Amen.