If this Bat Mitzvah speech makes you see red – and I am not referring to the color of “Hannah”‘s hair – you can take a few breaths and calm down – this is not a real Bat Mitzvah speech practice – it is a parody! It is actually a comic piece by writer Bob Morris, a style writer and author, frequent contributor to The New York Times. Hannah is played by his tennis partner’s daughter. Miuccia is played by his dog, Zoloft.
Bob says “my intent was more about satirizing fashion culture than religion,” but having said that, as parents of Bar and Bat Mitzvah kids, the speech brings up a number of issues that are worth considering and even discussing with our kids.
Firstly – on what basis do we, and should we judge people – based on their character or based on their cloth? The Ethics of Our Fathers states – do not look at the vessel; rather, look at what is inside it. This is specifically (but not exclusively) referring also to the character make up of people, as opposed to their looks.
Secondly – what sort of role models do we want to be? The type of father who “kindly” takes time off from his new Brazilian wife to attend the Bat Mitzvah? The type of grandmother who teaches her granddaughter from a young age the importance of labels? There is a lovely story in the Talmud that ends with a blessing that one’s offspring should be exactly like them. We must strive to be the kind of person that we want our children to emulate and grow into.
Thirdly – what is the role of beauty in Judaism? The Torah dedicates many, many chapters and verses to describing the stunning Sanctuary that Bezalel was commissioned to build for the Jews in the desert, and King Solomon pulled out all the stops to make sure that his Temple was an exquisite talking point, with magnificent resources from all over the world.
In short, physical beauty is recommended in Judaism, but it cannot represent an empty shell – beauty must be a window to reflect the spiritual and elevated content that lies within.
So, instead of clicking the “dislike” button on YouTube, I would like to thank Bob and the lovely “Hannah” for giving us some Bat Mitzvah thoughts to ponder and their Bat Mitzvah speech message – there is clearly more to fashion, judgement and beauty that meets the eye!