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Bar Mitzvah Jitters

My Bar Mitzvah is coming up and I’m freaking out. I know how to read my Haftorah, but I’m afraid I’ll freeze up and forget it all on the big day. It will really embarrass me and my family. What should I do about all this nervousness before the Bar Mitzvah?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Since the Jewish people began, countless numbers of boys have been nervous before their Bar Mitzvah. And do you know what? Somehow they all managed to survive!

I heard a beautiful story that I'd like to share. A boy was very nervous about his upcoming Bar Mitzvah because he would have to read from the Torah in front of everyone. He practiced for months and months, but he was still very nervous.

Finally the big day arrived – and the boy read the Torah 100 percent perfectly!

Afterwards, the rabbi asked the boy how he managed such an impressive performance. The boy replied, "When I first started practicing many months ago, you told me that I will need to read the Torah so clearly that if a blind man were in shul he would be able to follow. I was so nervous when I got up there today, but then I looked around and, lo and behold, a blind man was sitting there with a Braille Bible. I blocked everything else out of my mind and concentrated on reading so that the blind man could follow!"

It seems to me that focusing intently on something will help you not only during the synagogue service, but in the week before your Bar Mitzvah as well. You need to have something else to think about that you find interesting. Whether it's building a rocket ship, or figuring out how you're going to spend your Bar Mitzvah money! Focus on something special and make it your project for the week.

Mazal Tov! We know you'll do great.

(True story from "In the Footsteps of the Maggid" by Rabbi Paysach Krohn. The upshot is that the blind man just happened to be visiting that Shabbos, and had never been in that synagogue before!)

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