Bar Mitzvah Skit: The Yorkshire Bar Mitzvah Boy
I am currently in Harrogate, Yorkshire, attending a wonderful family barmitzvah. My brother Mike and I wrote this skit on the plane over, and we performed it to the guests at the seuda/meal on shabbat. It went over very well. I offer it here in case others are also on 'entertainment' for a barmitzvah, and may wish to use the material. Enjoy!
by David & Mike Morris
[Rabbi Cohen "C" is sitting reading a chumash. Knock at the door. Harry "H" enters. Harry has a flat hat and broad Yorkshire accent]
H. Hello? Rabbi Cohen?
- Yes, I’m Rabbi Cohen.. Can I help you?
H. Yes, I hope so. My name is Harry I’ve come to discuss my son’s barmitzvah.
H. You see, my son Jim’s now twelve years old, and I was considering whether he should have a barmitzvah.
C. Whether he should have a barmitavah? Is Jim Jewish?
H. Yes – Jim’s Jewish and he’s very proud of it.
C. As you know, all Jewish boys have a barmitzvah at 13. So why would Jim NOT have a barmitzvah?
H. Well, twenty-six years ago I had a barmitzvah and I had to work very hard for months, learning to read Hebrew, and my haftorah, we had to invite everyone to the meal afterwards, and the whole thing cost my parents a fortune.
In the twenty-six since then, I have never used my Hebrew, or even been in a synagogue.
To be frank, Rabi Cohen, it was a total waste of my time and my parents money.
C. I see.
H.. So, Rabbi Cohen, why should I make the same mistake with Jim, as my parents made with me?
C. Urr, tradition?
H. Tradition? Like doing something, because that’s what people have always done? Since days of yore?
C. Yes – keeping the tradition of our fathers and forefathers.
H. .You mean, if someone makes a mistake, and their son, and grandson, and grandson’s son all make the same mistake, then it becomes a sensible thing to do also, because of tradition.
H. Well, if that’s all there is to it, then I think we’ll just call it a day, forget it, and Jim can spend his time on studying hard and playing in the school football team. Thank you for your time, Rabbi.
[Harry heads for the door]
C. Well, before you go Harry, can you tell me Jim’s birthday?
H. His birthday? It’s Jim’s 12th birthday today. Why do you ask?
C. Let me see, his thirteen birthday will be in the Biblical portion of Acharei Mot/ Kedoshim. It’s a very special parsha. Perhaps we can find something which you will find worthwhile to pass on to your son in that reading.
H. I can’t imagine there’s anything in the Torah reading there he needs to know. I have brought Jim up to be a fine upstanding lad.
C. But if we can find something really important, really worthwhile, in the parsha, would you agree for Jim to read it on his Barmitzvah?
H. That sounds reasonable, Rabbi Cohen. What do you have for us in Parsha Acharei Mot, Kedoshim?
C. Well, let’s have a look….
Well for starters, there are 613 of God’s commandments to the Jewish people in the Bible, and of these 56 – almost 10% - are in Jim’s parsha. That should be enough to get our teeth into. What do we have here….
Thou shalt not eat blood.
H. I can’t see that one going over too well, Rabbi. Not eating blood. Our Jim isn’t going to give up his black-pudding any time soon.
Do you have anything else there for Jim?
C. Well, it says here bestiality is out.
H. Bestiality? You can’t go talking that way with my Jim, Rabbi. He’s from
C [apologetically, to audience]. I’m not sure how that one got in the script.
H. What else do we have?
C. Caring for the poor. It says here that when you reap your harvest, you should leave a corner of your field untouched, so the poor people can come and have food also.
H. But what if Jim doesn’t have a field?
C. The harvest of yesterday is the paycheck, the dividends and profits of today.
When you’re feeling good and earning well, don’t be arrogant and selfish. Remember those less fortunate, those who didn’t get a paycheck, and those who are hungry.
Jews traditionally give 10% of their earnings to charity.
H. That’s very admirable. I think that’s an important message for Jim. When you reap your harvest, as it were, don’t forget the poor – give charitably.
C. And then it says You shall not steal; neither shall you deal falsely; nor shall you lie.
Harry, maybe it sounds obvious, not to be a thief, a cheat or a liar.
But how many people would cheat on their tax forms if they could? Overstate their business expenses? How many of us are scrupulous to always tell the truth - Even when lying or stretching the truth, would get you out of a lot of trouble?
H. I know, Rabbi Cohen, I’m a businessman. You normally have to chose – be straight, and poor, or be a crook and get rich. It’s almost impossible to always be honest, always be straight, to have integrity – and yet to be successful against competition in a tough marketplace.
I hope Jim will not steal, not deal falsely and never lie.
C. And a couple of verses on – “you should not hold back the wages of your employee”.
H. That’s a tough one too. Particularly when there’s a downturn in business. When the creditors are threatening to sue. When the banks are calling in their debt. It’s tempting to delay payments to the employees.
I hope Jim will be fair, honest and reliable as an employer and will always consider the needs of people who work for him.
C. And how about this – “You must not put a stumbling block in the path of the blind”
H. What’s that about, Rabbi?
C. It’s far more far-reaching than not tripping up a blind person. Harry – we’re all considered blind, each one in his own way.
For example, someone asks you for your advice, your guidance in a business matter.
You are in a position to take advantage of him, and get him to do something which is in your interests, rather than his. This would be abusive.
This is putting a stumbling block in front of the blind.
H. I understand – we shouldn’t take advantage of people; when we have responsibility over people, we shouldn’t abuse that. Don’t be a bully.
I hope Jim can learn this also.
OK Rabbi – I’m convinced that Jim’s parsha has lots of important messages. And I’d like him to learn them.
Do you have a bottom line? Something which Jim can take away with him, and use as a guiding principle for the rest of his life?
C: Well I think this is what we’re looking for. “Love your neighbour as yourself”. Rabbi Akiva, the famous rabbi of the 2nd Century said this is the central principle of the whole Torah. And it’s right here in Jim’s parsha.
H. I have to admit, Rabbi, I’m not a great moral example to others. I cut corners.
I’d like my lad Jim to do better. And I’d like him to start now.
Rabbi Cohen – I think these are important lessons. Tools for life.
When can Jim start his barmitzvah lessons?
C. When can Jim start? I’ll clear my diary!
H. Excellent! Let’s say this Wednesday evening for Jim's first barmitzvah lesson.
H. Oh, and just one more thing Rabbi Cohen. Sorry to raise the subject, but how much will this cost?
C. One lesson a week. For the next twelve months. And I think this is a very important mitzvah for me to teach Jim. So I’ll cut my charge to a bare minimum. Just 5 pounds a lesson.
H. Well Rabbi, I understand how important this is, but I have to tell you that five pounds a lesson is a most uncompetitive rate. In fact, quite outrageous. Rabbi Cohen, I will not be requiring your services. Five pounds, Huh! Good day Rabbi Cohen!
[H exits; C bows, joined by C, to repturous applause]