Teaching manhood

Today was a special morning at Morning Minyan. It was Evan’s weekday bar-mitzvah. Evan is having a big bar- mitzvah this Shabbat, but today Evan put on t’fillin for the first time and had his first aliya.

I know Evan from the time he was about four. He’s one of those kids with a sparkle in their eyes who is always on the prowl for a small adventure in the midst of the mundane. He has always been a particular favorite of mine.


This morning Evan and his parents sat in the row in front of me. As Michah, Evan’s father helped Evan put on his t’fillin for the first time,I was struck by the power of that moment.


Fathers hold their son’s heads to help them put the head part of the t’fillin on. Then they take their son’s arm in theirs as they wrap their boy’s arm in the leather straps. The new t’fillin are stiff and inflexible. The bar-mitzvah boy usually has a skinny arm, and like Evan, the first time or two the t’fillin just fall down. The father has to take his son’s arm in his hands and rewrap the t’fillin.


The straps on Michah’s t’fillin have softened with use. His adult sized arms fill the straps.

Eventually Evan has figured out how to get the t’fillin onto his arm.



There somehow seems to be no more fitting way to mark a child emerging into adulthood.



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