The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 18 February 2012 / 24 Shevat 5772

The Muffed Haftara

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Yossie’s parents looked forward to the Shabbat of his Bar Mitzvah when he would read in their synagogue the Haftara. Blessed with a beautiful voice and musical talent he was certain to do a great job on the Haftara he had so diligently prepared and to thus bring great nachat to his proud parents.

But something went wrong. The reading of the Haftara was marred by several off-tune moments and some bouts with hoarseness. As they left the synagogue Yossie’s father noticed that his son suffered no hoarseness at all and asked him why his reading was so characterized by loss of voice and tune.

A friend of mine read the Haftara last week for his Bar Mitzvah, explained the boy, and he did a rather poor job because he has a hard time carrying a tune. Next week another friend with little musical ability will be reading the Haftara for his Bar Mitzvah. If I would have read the way I was capable of doing because of my musical ability, people would have made the comparison between my beautiful rendition and the poor showing of the others. How could I thus embarrass my friends? I therefore decided to mess up my own reading a bit so that no comparisons would be in order.

It was Yossie’s father who revealed this incident when he spoke at a Sheva Brachot celebration for his son almost a decade later. Yossie had met with great success in his learning and in his shiduch, and it was his father’s conviction that his nobility as a Bar Mitzvah boy earned him these blessings from Heaven.

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