Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Siyum TaNaCH Speech in Honor of Our Daughter, at Her Bat Mitzvah

Good evening everyone, and mazel tov.

I will be conducting a siyum on TaNaCH in honor of our Bat Mitzvah girl, but before I do so I wanted to take a minute or two to express some thank yous and appreciations.

Firstly, I want to thank everyone for coming, for partaking, and for being here. I appreciate the various tirchas you’ve endured to make it, and to spend your time with us. I have kids, I know what it’s like.

As for the British contingent – who are today’s recipients of the S’char Halicha Award – you’ve had to deal with airport security. Now grant you, it’s much easier at Heathrow, as I’ve recently experienced, but it’s not going to be pleasant for the way home. It’s going to stink. I apologize for that.

I also understand that we have parties joining us from Washington and Boston – and even the Upper West Side. Vehamayvin yavin.

I’m also thankful to those who have spent the weekend with us, and to those who have hosted all our guests. Thank you for opening your homes and being so welcoming.

Secondly, I want to thank my wife, in general, but particularly for the incredible efforts she put forth to assemble this phenomenal weekend. She probably doesn’t want me to prattle on too much, so I therefore looked for as concise an expression possible that fully expresses how exemplary the work has been.

I could simply say she’s “geshikt,” and everyone would probably understand what I mean when I use the all-encompassing word, but I found a pasuk fragment in tehillim which gives perfect expression to how I feel.

In Tehillim 19 it says, “הָרָקִיעַ מַגִּיד יָדָיו וּמַעֲשֵׂה.” The expanse proclaims your handiwork. It should be self-evident to all, simply by observing how this weekend has gone, how fantastic your vision, leadership, organizational skills, kindness, and elevated sense of hachnoses orchim actually are. Underlying all this is the reason all this came to be!: the pure, true love that you have for our daughter. I continue to be the beneficiary of your gifts, as does your extended family. I’m grateful for you, and I love you.

Finally, before my siyum, I want to thank Naava for being an amazing girl. She has been into this event. She has made it a joy to put together all the prep work. She hasn’t sat idly by while her mom did all the work. She sought to be actively involved.

Again, I prefer to be succinct so I don’t embarrass her too much – I’ve been embarrassing her enough with my dancing – but it’s apropos to say that she is proving to be as geshikt as her mother before her, and her grandmothers before her. I continue to grow in the presence of such women, and it looks like – as you grow up – I will continue to.

I also want to thank you for learning Maseches Peah with me. It was a delight and a joy. Peah has eight perakim. It was just around Perek gimel that I suddenly realized that you were my first true, regular chavrusah since beit medrash, and that was just a joy for me, an absolute joy. Thank you for partnering in Torah with me. Thank you for taking on the responsibility. I’m very proud of you, and I love you.

This brings us to the siyum, which I’m dedicating to Naava today.

Now the learning isn’t just a nice thing to do for our daughter. There is a message and a purpose behind it.

L’ma doover domeh?

A few months ago, I decided to take on an indoor marathon. 26.2 miles around a 400-foot, banked track. It was quite an insane undertaking, and it was physically and mentally taxing.

One of the amenities they had at this race was a live feed, which you could view on their website. The runners were easy to keep track of, as they were making 211 hakafot. You couldn’t lose sight of a runner, unless he or she took a bathroom break. My wife watched some of it, along with our children.

I finished the race. When I came home, my wife gave me a compliment. She said that until she saw me running around the track at this indoor marathon, she had only ever seen me at punctuated points during a marathon, and that, for the large part, I also usually looked chipper and merry. But when she saw me struggle and fight and endure, she had a better appreciation for what it takes, and was proud of me for finishing.

Now it was true what she was saying. My family meets me every year at the NYC Marathon at mile 22.5. At that point, it’s gotten a little tough for me, but nevertheless, no matter what I’m going through, I like to run the last few blocks to them, and meet with them with a sever panom yafot. I don’t want them to see me suffer, because I’m actually very happy. So I might as well look happy too.

So, Naava, there’s a subtle difference in our approach to life, between your mother and me. When it comes to many different things – and they are too many too enumerate – whether it’s personal, leisure, business, family-oriented, what have you, I like to set up things, and begin to go for them. Your mom loves that too, but what she really likes is sticking the landing, finishing what you started.

The gadol hador, Alec Baldwin, once said, “Always be closing.”

For me, the thrill is to start something fun, interesting, and meaningful. Finishing is just something I have to do, because I started it. For Mommy, the thrill is finishing, because that’s what matters.

Of course, we can differ on the subtleties of this, but that’s how I feel it breaks down. Feelings aren’t facts. Right, Tati?

Naava, every day, we try to inspire this in you and in your siblings. Set goals up; knock them down. That’s my six-word life lesson for you.

This is what you showed us when you started and finished Peah with me, and when you started and finished your chesed project, and when you start and follow through on all the things that you’re interested in.

And this is why finishing TaNaCH in your name is such a pleasure for me.

For those of you who are not friends with me on Facebook, this is what I posted on May 1st, 2017 (bear in mind, I’m quoting myself from a few weeks ago. Otherwise what I’m saying today doesn’t make sense):

“Hadran aluch Sefer Divrei Hayamim Beis, U'slika luch Ketuvim, umesayim TaNaCH, B'H, for the 2nd time!

The learning was done in honor of our beloved daughter, on the occasion of her upcoming bat mitzvah.

Two years ago, she overheard me mentioning to my wife that I intend to finish Shas again in time for our eldest son's bar mitzvah. She approached politely and said, "Can you finish TaNaCH for me?"

How is a father supposed to decline such a beautiful request?

I reprioritized all my learning and reading, and made deadline with weeks to go.

My wife and my children are marbitz my torah to me. My cup runneth over, and I feel blessed, for it is they who have helped me to start other tractates and books, and to complete them, to learn and to teach, to observe and to enact and to fulfill all the words of the teaching of the Torah, and of the secular, with love.

I will make an official siyum during the Bat Mitzvah event.

Mazel tov to you, Beautiful Light of Mine, and thank you for inspiring me.

The first time I finished TaNaCH, I was inspired to do so by a bar mitzvah boy. The second time I finished, I was inspired by a bat mitzvah girl.

Aizehu chacham? Halomed mikol adam. Perhaps if I continue allowing inspiration to motivate me from anywhere, I'll be zoche to be one.”

With that said, b’rishus my wife, Harav, my mothers and fathers, v’chul hamesoobin kan, and lichvoyd biti Naava Leora, let us finish TaNaCH together…

(Mention ups and downs of Jews, and rewards and punishments; mention how history repeats itself, and this may be the first such instance in history)

(Conclude by saying that summary of all Torah seems to be an invitation to ascend to Jerusalem and rejoice with the Lord)

(Add to conclusion by saying that we, too, will be ascending to Jerusalem later this year to celebrate Jordy’s bar mitzvah, and bless everyone to be able to travel far and wide to attend family simchas)

(Switch to Yiddish, complete last pasuk, remember chazak part and to insert Torah, Neviim, Ketubin anywhere it says Bava Basra)


Post a Comment

<< Home