Rites of passage are underrated in our culture. When they happen, if they happen at all, they can be more about displays of wealth rather the actual rite of passage itself. What lies beneath is this: children becoming young men or women, rising to the challenge of becoming young adults. And we, the elders, giving them either the grounding on which to move out into a sometimes frightening, changing, and often beautiful world.
My sons, Jack and Matthew, had their Bar Mitzvah about a month ago. They chanted from the Torah, and they presented their commentaries on their Torah portions to the congregation. Their portions covered the destruction of Sodom & Gommorrah, and the binding of Isaac. They wrestled with issues of morality and justice, and whether G-d even exists. (Jack — what kind of G-d destroy an entire city? Doesn’t he believe that people can change? Doesn’t he believe in forgiveness? Redemption?). (Matthew — What kind of leap of faith does it place on a person when he hears a voice telling him to sacrifice his only son? Is he touched by G-d? Or touched in the head? And where is Sarah in all this? Doesn’t G-d care about what women thinks?)
To say I am so proud of my sons is an understatement. The world needs big minds and bright souls to question the status quo, to wrestle with the kind of world they are inheriting. Their B’nai Mitzvah taught me something about being their Elder. I may have done some good in this world, but I need to do more. Because they, and their entire generation, and the ones that follow, deserve it.
Matthew and Jack, your parents love you and are so proud of you.