"Thank you for being here," I began. "Yesterday I was a boy. Tomorrow I'll be a teenager again. But today I am a man." The crowd chuckled. "And as a man for a day," I continued, "I would like to thank my mom and dad, Ed and Judy Benson, for their support. And thanks to Rabbi Greenblatt. If you have to have a bar mitzvah, make this man your go-to rabbi. You won't regret it.
"These days, God's not in our faces like he was in Moses' and Aaron's. But we all know what's right. We know how we're supposed to live. The Torah shows us how to treat one another. Sometimes it shows us how not to. Like scapegoating. God tells Aaron how to make a scapegoat. Now, today in 1973, I don't think God actually expects anybody to put their guilt on goats and fling them off cliffs. But maybe if we look at that part of the Torah through modern eyes, we can learn something about how we put our guilt on others. Sometimes when I hear people say, 'Lazy hippies!' or 'You can't trust those people,' I think there could be some scapegoating going on."
I paused to look at the crowd again. My speech wasn't meant to be sad—just stuff I'd learned from Greenblatt. Yet about a quarter of the audience looked like they were about to cry. A few were even wiping away tears. Sure, people cried at weddings. But bar mitzvahs? It made no sense. I glanced to my right. Mom's weight had dropped even more over the past two weeks. She was so skinny, even in her puffy dress. Her legs looked like pencils.
Suddenly I realized I wasn't the only one watching her. Most of the crowd was, too. And Dad didn't just have his arm around her. He was holding her up.
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