Vayera 5773 – Which is more important: a Bar Mitzvah or the Miami Dolphins?

and the child grew up and was weaned and Avraham made a great feast on the day that Yitzchak was weaned (Bereshis 21:8)

Most of the commentaries learn that Avraham made a great feast for his son when he stopped nursing. There are some commentaries, though, that state this feast was made when Yitzchak turned 13 years old and became a Bar Mitzvah. When the verse says, “he was weaned” it means that he was weaned from the Yetzer Hara (evil impulse) as the Yetzer Tov (good impulse) enters a boy when he turns 13.

My oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah is only a few weeks away and I’m very busy trying to finalize all of the details. Recently, I had a conversation with the father of one of my son’s classmates whose Bar Mitzvah is two weeks after my son’s. I wanted to know when he was planning on his son’s reception so I did not plan my son’s reception for the same time. This other father responded, “It will be on a Sunday morning from 10:30am to 1pm. But don’t worry, you can still make it to the game.” I didn’t know what he meant by “make it to the game” so he explained that the Miami Dolphins are at home that week and have a 4pm game.

I was very bothered when I heard this comment. I was Really Bothered (as you will probably see as you see in this week’s Divrei Simcha)

Let’s compare… if I go to a football game, I get to see a team of football players throw a ball, run with it, and jump on top of each other. I am not really involved in the game. If I was not there in the stadium, no one would probably notice. The players certainly would not realize if I was there or not.

Also, if I go to the game, I am not guaranteed I will be happy with the outcome because the other team might win. Even if they win this game, it does not mean they are the best team because they might not win the Super Bowl. Even if they win the Super Bowl this year, who really cares, because that does not mean they will be the champions forever. Actually, if I’m not mistaken (and I am certainly not an expert on this subject), I do not think there has ever been a team that has won three Super Bowls in a row. This means, in football, winning is temporary.

Now, let’s think of what happens at a Bar Mitzvah. A boy becomes a man. Yesterday, this boy could not be included in a minyan. Yesterday, he could not perform mitzvos for others. Yesterday, he did not wear tefillin. Now, at his Bar Mitzvah, he is included in the minyan. He is now obligated in performing mitzvos because has shown he is at an age that he is responsible. He can be trusted. He is no longer a child – he has reached a new level in his life where we start to treat him like a grown-up. And let me share with you a secret… although only 1 out of 32 teams will win the Super Bowl, 100% of 13 year old boys become a Bar Mitzvah.

Now, I am not saying that a person cannot go to football games. But a person should think before they go to the game to make sure they are not sending a wrong message. The message the people who are invited to my son’s classmate’s Bar Mitzvah are sending is “the Miami Dolphins are more important than you becoming a Bar Mitzvah because I would rather go watch them than spend time celebrating your occasion.” This is disgusting!

When I was younger, I was a huge Giants fan. Last year, my son wanted to watch the Super Bowl and since it was being streamed on the internet for free, I let him watch some of it (I must point out that there were no Bar Mitzvah receptions that night). Well, as the game was nearing the end, the Giants were losing by only a few points and they were marching down the field. So, I decided to sit to watch the end of this exciting game with my son. There were about two minutes left as the Giants looked like they might be able to take a last minute lead and win the championship. As I was watching, my daughter came over to me and starting talking about a book she just read. I started thinking, “Can’t you wait a few minutes so I can see the end of the game? This is the most important game of the season and these are the final moments. You can tell me about your book any time. Why are you telling me about it now?” But I then came to the only logical conclusion – “Who cares about the game?” I turned to my daughter and gave her my full attention, while I turned my back on the screen.

I am not stating this because I think I did a great act. I am stating it because anybody who has a brain in his head should have and would have done the same exact thing. Football might be fun to watch, but our children are much more important! And mitzvos are much more important! And Bar Mitzvahs are much, much, much more important than even having front row tickets to see a Miami Dolphins game. So to anyone reading this who made my son’s classmate hold his Bar Mitzvah reception early on a Sunday morning so they could go to a Dolphins game, I hope you rethink where you priorities are… because right now they are certainly in the wrong place.

Good Shabbos!
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