Ds12 first time putting on tefillin

In traditional Judaism, a young man puts on tefillin (phylacteries) for the first time a month before his bar mitzva.  Today was that day for ds12.

Dh took him to buy the tefillin in Bnei Brak several weeks ago, and yesterday afternoon they took them out so ds could practice how to put them on.  At that point, they realized that something had been tied according to a different custom than ours ( tied to wrap going out, rather than in), so they went out to find someone who could help them in the short time they had.  Fortunately, dh had met someone here who is a sofer (scribe) and was able to quickly remedy the issue.

Dh went with ds12 to the morning service, where he put on tefillin for the first time.  To celebrate, they took a few bottles of soft drinks and lots of homemade baked goods to share with the other people in the minyan (mostly the classmates and teachers of ds12, hence the horrifying amounts of sugar): doughnuts (chocolate and plain glazed) – in honor of Chanukah, cinnamon rolls, swirl cookies, chocolate cake – he’s lucky he had older sisters who wanted him to have something nice to put out!

Here’s the young man of the hour:

Dr. Gordon Neufeld, author of Hold On To Your Kids, has lamented that in Western culture, there are no rituals to mark the passage from child to adult. The exception, he notes, is in the Jewish religion, where boys and girls mark this passage with the bar/bas mitzva celebration, as they accept on themselves a Torah lifestyle of their own desire and volition.

This has practical ramifications – once bar mitzva, ds will be able to fulfill a minyan (prayer quorum) just as an adult man can.  This is going to make the person who has a synagogue a few doors away happy since he’s called in the past for ds to come complete the minyan, and been surprised (since he looks older) and disappointed that he couldn’t come.

But for parents as well, it’s good to have something like this to remind you that your child is moving towards adulthood, and to treat them accordingly.  I every so often recently when talking about bar mitzva preparations,  have been giving an exaggerated sniff and saying in a falsetto weepy voice: “My baby is growing up.”  Though I do it jokingly, it’s true, he really is growing up.  I clearly remember when ds18 was at this stage, wondering how he got to this point so quickly.  And with ds18 now not living at home anymore, I’m very, very aware of how fast the time flies by.

In other news, ds12 and I measured against one another back to back tonight.  He is now definitely taller than me.  Ds18 was 5’8″ when he was bar mitzva, and since I’m a little short of 5’9″, he passed me soon after.  But ds12 has already passed me, which reminded me of something I told my oldest a few years ago when he was wrestling with his brother: “One day, he’s going to be bigger and stronger than you, so you better be nice to him!”  :)  Ds18 is almost six feet, and he’s no wimp, but tonight he came home and when he saw ds12, he told him that he’s on track to be bigger than him.  ‘But’, he continued, ‘you have to be able to learn more gemaras (Talmud) than I can to really be bigger than me!’


24 thoughts on “Ds12 first time putting on tefillin

  1. Avivah, heartfelt mazel tov to you from your former neighbors in Baltimore. Hard to believe, especially since when you moved in he was only 3 years old and 3.5 feet tall!

  2. Mazal tov! Lovely photos. Thanks for sharing how you marked the day, and more importantly, your experience on what the milestone means for you as a mother. I’m at the same stage with my oldest dd right now, and it’s so true that I feel the transition is not just for dd, but also for me as a parent.

  3. Mazal Tov! It’s true, your ds does NOT look his age :) I didn’t know about your ds 18 not living at home, he’s living in Israel though right? It’s nice to have ones children in Israel b/c no matter which side of the country they are on, it’s not a plane ride away 😀

    1. I myself just realized a few weeks ago that ds18 isn’t living at home anymore! I’ve been thinking of him as living at home but studying at yeshiva, but I realized it’s actually the opposite. He’s in yeshiva in Jerusalem, and comes home every couple of months for a Shabbos. It’s really, really nice to have him home; he gets a king’s reception when he comes home from all of his siblings, who get so excited to see him!

  4. Mazal tov, Avivah! I wish we could be there to share in this simcha with you. And we will miss having you at our ds’s Bar Mitzvah in February. Wishing you continued nachat from B and all your children.

    1. Thanks, Alisa. I feel a certain sadness with this bar mitzva coming up that we won’t have all of his friends and our friends to share the simcha with us, and he is missing being able to be at the bar mitzva of all of his friends, too. (If you haven’t yet, don’t show your children these pictures; B dislikes how they look and really wasn’t happy when I showed him which ones I posted.)

  5. Mazel Tov! My family has been following the blog, as we plan to be there in Feb. NBN just released their flight schedule. You blog brings new light to Aliyah from Karmiel.

    Mazel Tov again
    Gidalyah and Miri

  6. Shalom, We have not found a place yet. We are going to be looking in a few neighborhoods, but we were told to look near the Kollel. From what I understand there are 3 kollels in one building. We are a family of 6 with an almost 14 year old girl, a 12 year old boy. 8 year old girl and 3 year old boy. Everyone is very excited, and knows that there will be a lot of work once we get there. I just read your 4 month update. The kids hebrew is not that great and mine is very little, but my wife has good skills and should be speaking after 3-6 months. If you could email me so I can pass your email on to my wife that would be great. We have lots of questions. Thanks

    1. Does that mean that you’re definitely moving to Karmiel, but not sure which neighborhood you’d like to be in? I don’t know what you mean about there being three kollels in one building.

      My email address can be found on the tab at the top of the page where it says ‘Contact’.

  7. Very exciting! We have older kids that are pretty close matches for age/gender to yours, and at dinner when I mentioned your comment here, dd15 was very happy to hear you have an older daughter. There are currently only three high school age girls that speak English except for my daughters.

  8. Mazal Tov Avivah! So exciting! It is amazing ( i know cliche) how quickly they grow. Jake just turned 11 B’H”. You should have continued Nachat from B and all your children!!

  9. Tomorrow morning my ds12 will be putting tefillin for the first time. I was looking online for something on the topic and this blog of yours was second on my list. It was reassuring to see it. I’m so excited. I really see him growing into the tefillin. I only wish that his homeschool friends could be a chevrah there for him tomorrow. I don’t know if that will happen, but at least he’s getting to know the members of the minyan he’s been going to regularly since January.

    I pray that you, your family, and klal yisrael are safe and able to sleep well and go on with good life thru all this craziness.

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