Lessons in Jewish Manhood

My youngest will be Bar Mitzvah in one month (B’ezrat Hashem – with G-d’s help). Our custom is for the boy to start putting on tefillin (phylacteries) one month beforehand. As we did with our oldest two sons, we are going to the Kotel tomorrow morning. There we will daven shacharit (pray the morning service) and my son will learn from his father how to pray like a man, while his proud grandfather gets it all on film, and his proud mother and grandmother look on.

He has been very excited about this – and has literally counted the days until now. One by one his older friends started to put on tefillin at morning prayers at school, and he even marvelled at how “cool” they were about it. He has even asked his older brother if he could take out the tefillin and “practice” wrapping the straps around the boxes and putting them back into their case.

He has picked up some other lessons in Jewish manhood lately too.

We have all been exposed to the war in one way or another, but his exposure has been a little more intense.

He is in 7th grade at the yeshiva tichonit (religious high school) in Karnei Shomron. His seat in the Beit Midrash (study hall where the boys both learn Torah and pray) is not far away from Rav Karov, and the day that it was announced that Rav Karov’s son Aharon was seriously wounded, my son came home and described to me how he saw two IDF soldiers come into the Beit Midrash to call Rav Karov out.

Rav Karov also gave his usual Thursday morning talk to the whole yeshiva last week, and it of course centered on his son’s experience. Rav Karov explained to the boys that his son Aharon is a sapper – his job is to disable the bombs that are planted in the houses in Gaza as booby-traps. He described how the procedure is to have the sapper enter the room, with another soldier standing with his back to him in order to cover him in case there is sniper fire. They were going upstairs to the second floor in a house when the bomb exploded and he received the full force to the head.

Rav Karov thanked the boys for their prayers for his son’s recovery, and he announced that there would be an optional extra study session today – Sunday. This extra Torah study is for the recovery of his son and the other wounded soldiers and civilians hurt by the war.

My son has been learning how to study Torah like a Jewish man from the time he was little. He has been learning how to pray like a Jewish man for the past few months, and tomorrow he will put this learning into action at the Kotel.

He has been learning, from afar at this point, how to fight like a Jewish man, from hearing the stories of the heroism of the IDF soldiers.

And although he may not be aware of it, he is learning about another type of heroism that Jewish men need to express if they live in Israel. When Jewish men here are too old to fight themselves, they must watch their sons fight. Which is probably the greatest level of heroism there is.

None of these lessons are coming from the pages of a book – they come from living his life here in Israel. And with all of the heartache that some of these lessons may contain, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Risa
    Jan 18, 2009 @ 16:00:33

    So well put.
    Mazal tov on your son’s hanachat tefillin.
    Refuah shlema to all the soldiers.

  2. jack39
    Jan 18, 2009 @ 17:51:54

    That was a very nice post.

  3. Mrs. S.
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 07:53:24

    Mazal tov!

    What a beautiful post!

  4. Baila
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 22:04:57

    Mazal Tov!

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