Max Billick's Bar Mitzvah

facebook_maxbillickMy name is Max Billick, I’m a seventh-grader at The Brandeis School of San Francisco. I’m interested in politics, history, constitutional law, world languages, Talmud, and cooking.

This Shabbat – on the fourth day of Sukkot Chol HaMoed – I will be called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah. On the occasion of my bar mitzvah, I will be recognized as a member of this community and brought into the covenant.

On Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot we will be reading from Parashat Ki Tissa. In the parsha, G-d commands Moses to conduct a census. After the census, G-d gives two tablets to Moses on which Moses inscribes the Ten Commandments. Meanwhile, the Israelites decide to make a golden calf. G-d is displeased about this but Moses is able to convince G-d to not forsake the covenant. When Moses saw this for himself, he was enraged and broke the tablets. He pleaded with G-d again not to forsake the covenant, and again carved tablets that he inscribed the Ten Commandments upon.

I want to thank my tutor Noa Bar, for helping me prepare for my bar mitzvah, and Rabbi Glazer for his invaluable help in preparing my d’var Torah.

Kezayit: Moadim L'sim-wha?

What's this Kezayit thing? Read here.

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MoadimLSimchaSome of our congregants were thrown off last week when Rabbi Glazer enthusiastically greeted them with "Moadim l'simcha!" Many community members looked confused -- "Moadim l'sim-wha?" -- and several asked for an explanation, which Rabbi Glazer happily provided.

In case you're still in the dark, though, we thought we'd share the explanation here. What's up with the greeting?

Literally translated, "moadim l'simcha" means "times for joy," but you can think of it as "happy holidays!" Yet this isn't a greeting that should be used for every Jewish holiday. Technically, it should be reserved for use during Pesach (Passover) and Sukkot; even then, it should only be used during the Chol HaMoed.

Chol HaMoed? Pesach and Sukkot both take place over multiple days. During Pesach in the Diaspora, the third through sixth days of the holiday (second through sixth in Israel), are called Chol HaMoed, which translates as the "weekdays [of] the festival." These days are regarded as the secular (or less holy) part of Pesach. Similarly, during Sukkot, the third through seventh days of the holiday (second through seventh in Israel) are also Chol HaMoed.

During both Pesach and Sukkot, then, it is most appropriate to greet fellow yidden with "Chag sameach!" ("Happy holiday!") during the beginning and end of the holidays (the first, second, seventh, and eighth days of Pesach, and the first, second, and eighth days of Sukkot) and "Moadim l'simcha!" during the intermediate days.

So there you have it! If you really want to show your Hebrew greeting chops, when someone greets you with "Moadim l'simcha!" during Sukkot, you should reply with "Chagim u’zmanim l’sasson!" This is a traditional response to the first greeting, and translates as "Holidays and times for celebration!"