When I was a kid growing up in Atlanta, Hebrew education consisted of a few hours Sunday morning and perhaps one or two afternoons a week (baseball or music lessons permitting) Other than a promise for a Slurpee or Lik a Stik at 7-11 afterward, there wasn’t a great amount of motivation to attend.
Unfortunately, as a BT, that lack of education has haunted me for the last 30 years. Like most late comers to observant Judaism, I have an inferiority complex when I’m around people that were “FFB”
To be certain, my hick accent when I’m speaking hebrew or yiddish around these Yankees doesn’t help.
The desire to spare my children from this sort of embarrassment is probably the greatest motivator for how hard I work to fund their education. My wife jokes that I am the only person who’s excited to write a check to the Day school.
With that in mind it’s always nice to see a return on your investment. My eldest son, who was bar mitzvahed earlier this year is going to layn the Torah this week (at two minyanim, no less!)
Granted it is the shortest parsha in the Torah but even on my best day with a year of practice I doubt I could pull it off.
The brings to mind the theme of parsha Vayeilech- Namely to “write for yourself a Sefer Torah”
The commentators grapple with what the mitzvah entails. There are some (Ibn Ezra) that say it means mamash to write your own scroll. The Talmud in Nedarim seems to echo this.
If you look at it though on a deeper level I think there’s a very important mussar lesson.
As much At some point, our overall excitement and enthusiasm for observance tends to wane. Tefillin might become a chore rather than a sacred meeting with Hashem. Learning may not stimulate us the way it did during our year (or month in my case) in Israel. Mitzvot may not have the same “tam” they did when they were new to us.
I think that is what the parsha is trying to teach us. By “writing ourselves a new Torah” we are instructed to try and find new meaning and new excitement in our observance. Whether our bar mitzvah was earlier this year or 30 years ago, we still have some residual capacity to find novel aspects of Judaism that engage us. Hopefully with a little help from above we can all tap into this.
Y’all have a good Shabbos