Around the age of Bar, and Bat Mitzvah , many of us begin to wonder about the meaning of life, and to question the point of our existence. I don't think it is a coincidence that at the very age that we begin to question, we are provided with the answer. The answer to the puzzle of life IS in becoming a Bar Mitzvah, and in living a life of meaning and connection. The mitzvot are a gift. They have an amazing power to connect us to Hashem, to each other, to our families, our communities, and to ourselves.
Just a a few months ago I told my son that I believe that everyone is born with a secret mission that only he or she can carry out. The tricky part is that no one tells us what our particular mission is. We have to find that out for ourselves. This finding out, is one of the hardest tasks we face in life, and one that begins right at the age of Bar Mitzvah.
Adolescence is an important and challenging time. We can not always choose what happens to us in life, and things can at times seem out of control. But we can always control how we respond to what life throws our way. In fact, the ONLY three things we can consistently control are our thoughts, our speech, and our actions.
The key to success at discovering and carrying out your unique life's mission is to know yourself and your talents well. The next ten or so years of your life will be spent, largely, finding out who you are, what you are good at, and consequently,what your personal mission is in this world.
We already have a few hints. The volunteer work that you do rehabilitating dogs at the animal shelter is one hint. Your creativity, your love of books and of knowledge, is another.
Before you were born I was in a book store and I bought you a book. I didn't know yet if you were a boy or a girl, but I knew I wanted you to have this book, because It expresses a vision of what I most want to give to you, to your brother, and to your sister.
I saved the book for your Bar Mitzvah, because I wanted you to have it at a time when you would also have the maturity to appreciate it. It is called, The Twelve Gifts of Birth, and describes twelve gifts that every human being is born with.
They are: Strength, Beauty, Courage, Compassion, Hope, Joy, Talent, Imagination, Reverence, Wisdom, Love, Faith. And, I added a thirteenth, Humility.
I believe that by internalizing these thirteen gifts you will have everything you will ever need, in order to fulfill what you were put on this earth to accomplish.
The day you were born, 12 years 369 days ago, on the secular calendar I inscribed a letter to you in the book: With your permission I would like to read it.
To my dear son, on the day of your birth: 6/21/01
My hope is that you will always treat yourself and others with respect and love, and that you will easily discover the beauty and joy in yourself and in your life. I loved you before you were born and I will love you forever.
I wrote the following much more recently:
You amazed me with your existence from the moment you were born.
You are strong, independent.
Your knowledge about the world is greater than most your age.
My, risk taker, lover of learning
You are protective,
A loyal, and true soul.
You made me a mother
and teach me every day how to parent.It is a gift to know and to love you.
I'm so proud of you.
Mazal Tov on your Bar Mitzvah!