Sid and I were so blessed to celebrate Sid’s cousin’s bar mitzvah in Denver last Shabbat, including Sid having the honor of doing the first aliyah at the Chasidic Orthodox service. A special joy for me was that my son Joel who lives in Denver wanted to attend the service.
My children were raised Jewish and my son’s wife is Jewish. However, their busy lives have not left room for much focus on HaShem, let alone attending Shabbat services. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it is not the busy lives that have been the obstacle, but rather, their not sensing the need for Him. I have learned that each person’s spiritual journey to find his or her relationship with our Abba is a very personal one. What we, as parents of adult children, can do is be resources of information, encouragers for the walk, and models of what a life in Him looks like.
So when Joel said he wanted to come to the bar mitzvah of the son of Sid’s cousin who Joel had just met the night before at Shabbat dinner, I was very surprised. When we arrived at shul, Joel confided that he was coming so he could spend time with me. As I headed toward the side where the women sit and can’t even be seen behind the mechitza which separates men from women in Orthodox shuls, Joel was disappointed. What he did not understand was that there’s his plan, my plan, and the only one that counts – that of our Abba.
I couldn’t see Joel, but after services Sid told me how moved my son was by the experience. As I spoke to Joel about it afterward, he shared that even though he didn’t understand much of the all Hebrew service, and the customs were different than he was used to at our synagogue, nevertheless, he could feel that it was real. In the words, songs, chanting, joyful movement of the davening, he could tell that these people felt a truth, a force beyond themselves, a beauty of being joined in community that only helped to augment what was being experienced individually.
Whether a spiritual community seemingly has all the answers or lines up on all fours with our beliefs is not the point. That HaShem uses our life’s events to reach out to us in ways we can relate to is unmistakable. And every time I see this amazing dynamic, whether in my life or in the lives of those around me, I am as moved as for the very first time. For it is a reminder of the personal nature of the relationship we have with our Creator, one which transcends all modes of expression, one constantly moving us forward to discover the deeper truths, each spiritual community having a taste of the whole, some more, some less. All, however, seeking Him and honoring Him, to the best of their abilities and knowledge at the time.
There are times in our lives when we are more able to hear Him, when we become aware that all the busy-ness feels empty when disconnected from the source of all creation. As an adult now at the bar mitzvah of this young 13 year old cousin, my son experienced a deeper understanding of the profound nature of his own bar mitzvah. My son could feel something in that room that was real. What he chooses to do with that revelation and its further unfoldings will be up to him, as it is for each of us.