Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Adar 5759 - March 17, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly

















Home and Family
Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov, OUCH! -- Mazel Tov!
by Shlomo Boruch Abeless

Maybe if I hadn't had that small operation, I wouldn't have noticed. Just like thousands before me . . .

Recently we celebrated the bar mitzvah of our youngest son Binyomin besho'oh tovah umutzlachas, some days after surgery on a finger of my right hand. It was still quite painful and with stitches still intact, required extreme care.

People who knew, shook my hand carefully when wishing me mazel tov, but those who didn't or had forgotten were quite insulted when I only proffered three fingers. "Geb a gantze hant!" they ordered.

The real danger, however, came from followers of the `firm handshake' school who, not realizing the consequences, grasped my hand with such an agonizing grip, that even before musaf I was positive it was already motzei Shabbos, as I distinctly saw three stars!

Recovering from this experience I mulled over the fact that I have yet to hear of a source for our tradition of accompanying every sholom aleichem and mazel tov with a handshake. Maybe some knowledgeable reader can enlighten me.

Meanwhile I decided to calculate the number of times I participated in this mazel tov handshaking ritual -- and the result is quite amazing.

Let's start from the beginning. Binyomin first put on tefillin a month before his bar mitzvah. All who heard wished me a hearty mazel tov. Two weeks later, when I placed an invitation to the forthcoming simcha on the shul's notice board, many considered that worthy of a congratulatory handshake.

The night of his bo-bayom, we had a small seuda for his classmates, family, and a few friends who gave it a three mazel tov rating: upon arrival, during the meal and again before leaving.

Next day, friends who heard of this function, called to say mazel tov.

The bar mitzvah bochur was first oleh leTorah on Thursday morning which brought on another round of well- wishing.

Friday night in shul -- the mispallelim noticed the bar mitzvah boy wearing a hat for the first time -- so it was mazel tovs all around again.

Next morning -- our big day -- upon arrival in shul many, hoping to avoid the rush later, chap arein an early mazel tov. However by the time I got called to the Torah, they absentmindedly do it again! And once more after the bar mitzvah finishes his Maftir!

Before leaving shul -- a repeat performance just making sure that I noticed they were there.

Our latest minhag of having a shalosh-seudos rather than a kiddush, offers further handshaking opportunities; with the obligatory lechayim and mazel tov before the speeches, another after the pshetel and finally after bentchen.

Admittedly, not everyone is makpid on each and every abovementioned mazel tov, but for mehadrin min hamehadrin the total approaches 15 handshakes!

Even without surgery, this can sap the energy of any ba'al simcha!

On the other hand (notice -- this is the first time the other hand gets a mention), you may say that we should have only such problems. And of course, you'd be 100% right!

May we celebrate many, many simchas, gezunterheit.

Footnote: Meanwhile, the rav of our shul (Adass Yisroel, Melbourne), Rabbi A.Z. Beck shlita, to improve decorum and kovod beis haknesses, has introduced a rule for aufrufs, requesting mispallelim to withhold their mazel tov wishes until after the final Kaddish. This has greatly reduced the balagan caused by half the shul rushing to the bima to congratulate the ba'al simcha.


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