Librarian's Lobby
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
September 2004

Davar Torah for Asher

On September 4, 2004 we celebrated our son, Asher’s bar mitzvah. This month’s column is a revised version of the davar Torah that I delivered on the occasion.

Asher, when you were born in 1991 the world was very optimistic.The Soviet Union was dissolved and true world peace looked like a reality.We were so happy that we put “happy” in your name. You were named for your mother’s grandfather, Oscar, and my uncle Louis. We wanted a name that was not too common, easy for anyone in corporate America to pronounce and connected to your ancestors.“Asher” means happy and we are reminded of your name every time we chant ashrei. “Lev “ for most people is a Yiddish name, but we wanted a Hebrew name.“Lev” for us is a heart. With a happy heart we welcome you to the chain of tradition represented by your name, your ancestors, and the entire Jewish tradition. I know you welcome everyone here to this celebration of your bar mitzvah.

I would like to thank everyone for coming today.I welcome our relatives, your friends, our friends, your teachers, and all the others who are have joined us. I acknowledge the presence of not only your current teachers, but also your teachers from your day care and pre-school years.Asher had the good foresight to be born in August, when Chicago rarely has snow.Asher is very familiar with the KINS building. From the time he was an infant I brought him to daily minyan.When we held his pinyan ha-ben in this very room he was already a vatik, veteran. For three years he was in this building attending pre-school up to 10 hours a day. Asher grew up in this building.

Bar mitzvah is a time for freedom. Not freedom for the bar mitzvah boy, but freedom for the parents.We are no longer responsible for his religious obligations.With freedom comes privilege. We now have the privilege of answering amen when Asher says a bracha for the Torah, as he did last Shabbat for the first time and today for his celebration. We now have the privilege to answer when he leads birchat ha-mazon as he did last week. I now have the privilege to have him stand beside me as he puts on tephillan. Our freedom is now the opportunity for him to perform mitzvot in his own name.

This is the month of Elul.We are preparing for the High Holiday season.Ashrei ha-am yo-da-ah teruah “Happy is the people who know the joyful sound of the shofar.” When we listen to the shofar I hope that everyone here will remember Asher and his day. In the cycle of the Jewish year there is no sound more forceful and startling than the sound of the shofar. The sound has a strong hold on the Jewish consciousness. Living in a busy world of work, family and community is difficult, but the sound of the shofar connects modern life to our past and acts as a hope for tomorrow.   The sound connects us to the emotions of our people. Teachers know that some students learn better by listening; some better by reading; and some better by moving their fingers while writing or keyboarding. The sound of the shofar inspires and startles us. With awe, reverence and prayer we greet the New Year. During the musaf of Rosh Hashanah we don’t talk from the time of the bracha of the shofar until we are done with all the tekiot. For a while the only sounds we are supposed to hear in the synagogue are those of tephila and the shofar. The shofar is both the beginning and the highest peak of the season. We begin with the sound every weekday morning of Elul and we end with the tekiah gedolah to end the fast of Yom Kippur.

We are all modern Jews; we are scientists. That means as scientists we seek to understand the world. We accept the burden and the joy of tradition, while we never stop learning Torah and learning about ourselves and the world. With every tradition, ceremony, or challenge we seek to understand how we fit into our Jewish world and general world.

My message to everyone is appreciate the gifts that the kodesh barukhu has given us.  Appreciate and understand the people around you who have different kinds of God given gifts. The gifts may be academic, leadership, artistic, athletic or any combination. The gifts may be obvious or hidden. All personal gifts need to be developed to reach our God-given potential.

Tekiah — Awake to the world around you.
Tekiah — Remember the past
Shavarim-Teruah — Remember that everything is not perfect. Some things are broken and need your help to repair them. Some things are disparate and need your help to unify.
Tekiah — Be ready for new challenges.

Asher, you have been reading for almost 11 years. We were surprised when you started reading before anyone taught you. You know the value of books for entertainment and learning. You have already followed the words of Ibn Tibbon, of the 12th century by making books your friends. Books are the frozen thoughts of the authors transmitting directly to you their message. Thoughts from your brain are created to be shared. Words from your heart and mouth are waiting to be heard. Keep one part of you anchored in the Jewish traditions, one part ready to learn more, and one part ready to share with the world.

Let me end with the same words I said during my bar mitzvah speech,  Ashrei, yoshve betekah…” “Happy are those who love to be in God’s house.” “Happy are those who love to be in Asher’s house.

May of all of you remember Asher and this day whenever you say Ashrei.

Daniel D. Stuhlman is president of Stuhlman Management Consultants, Chicago, IL, a firm helping organizations turn data and information into knowledge. We are looking for new clients and opportunities. Visit our web site to learn more about knowledge management and what our firm can do for you. Previous issues of Librarian's Lobby can be found at:

Librarian's Lobby Stuhlman Management Consultants Stories by Stuhlman Newsletter of Judaica Library Network of Metro Chicago
Asher's bar mitzvah speech.

 ©2004 by Daniel D. Stuhlman. All rights reserved.
Last revised September 7, 2004