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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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The Bar Mitzvah


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This past Lag B’Omer, I received a precious gift. It is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The people who gave me the gift were unaware of their action, but I will be forever grateful to them.

I had the privilege of attending a bar mitzvah that greatly impacted my life. The gift I received was not something tangible; it was a reaffirmation of my emunas Hashem. I have a wonderful life, thank God, and I thank Hashem for never testing me. But my faith was dormant, as I took my blessings for granted. After experiencing the simcha at this celebration, I know that I will never take those blessings for granted again.

The bar mitzvah boy has health issues that challenge him in many ways. His parents have encouraged him, worked with him, and davened to get him where he is today. They deserve great credit for their efforts. They gave their son a priceless heritage: a solid focus on the important things in life.

His bar mitzvah speech expressed his joy at having the privilege to observe the mitzvah of putting on tefillin. The emunah expressed by this young boy and his zest and zeal to do mitzvos was inspiring. He focused on life’s important things, namely the privilege of doing mitzvos and serving Hashem.

The manifestation of serving Hashem with joy that permeated the simcha served as a wakeup call to the entire community. It reminded us to focus on our goals in life: Do mitzvos, and then, with Hashem’s help, all will fall into place.

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Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

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There is not even a shadow of doubt that without Agudat Efrat’s help, this child would not have been born.

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The highway was packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic, and there I sat with hands gripped tightly on the steering wheel, begging the cars to move. My heart swelled at the thought of seeing my son, who was just coming back from his year of learning in Eretz Yisrael. How I had missed him! Though I was used to him being away (if you can ever really get used to a child being away), a special space in my heart was empty – as I waited for him.

We live in a world that is often too cruel and unkind. Living in Israel for the last 30 years, I have attended too many funerals for those whose lives were taken through incomprehensible acts of terror. During the years of the second intifada there were many days that I found it impossible to continue teaching, as a student would burst into my classroom and announce that there had been another terrorist attack. How could I just go on with a regular lesson when lives were lost?

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My husband of 40 years is always ready to help people. He is also very kind to his family and is always eager to embark on a family outing. However, he has one stipulation. He would rather not drive long distances at night, as he has had challenging experiences driving in the dark in fog, rain and other inclement weather.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/the-bar-mitzvah/2009/08/26/

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