Dear Rabbi,

I’m studying for my Bar Mitzvah and really need some motivation for learning to read Hebrew. I'd rather stick to English...why should I bother reading Hebrew? Besides, I don't really understand it.


Just asking this question puts you ahead of the game! It’s easy to simply do as you are told without stopping to think about the value of all the hard work you’re putting in…

Imagine you were given a map that pointed to hundreds of pounds of gold buried somewhere near your house. There’s only one catch. The map is written in another language. Would you take the time to learn how to read the map? Would the few weeks of hard work be worth an entire lifetime of wealth?

Have you thought about what it means to be a Jew? You have a direct connection to more than 3000 years of Judaism: Abraham, Sara, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, Rachel, and Leah; Moses, Aaron, David, Deborah, Solomon and Esther. You are their child. And you are now given the task of passing on the tradition to the next generation and carrying out the Jewish Mission in the world.

How long is a chain of 3000 years? By way of comparison:

The USA is 236 years old.

Baseball is about 170 years old.

Coca Cola is 127 years old.

Google is 13 years old.

Things come and go in the world. Empires fall, fads fade away, technology changes. It may be hard to picture, but things we can’t imagine living without will eventually disappear.

But there’s one thing that has always been here and will always be here: our Judaism.

It is our Torah that has held our nation together despite all the changes happening around us. Its teachings, traditions and commandments are studied and kept today as they were thousands of years ago. The Torah is an incredible family treasure that links you to the past and connects you to the future.

There’s only one small challenge, the Torah is in Hebrew. You have the map, but you need to understand it.

In order to access it properly you need to be able to read Hebrew, pray in Hebrew, and eventually work towards understanding it. Sure you can read a translation but it is never quite like reciting those same words our ancestors said, or studying from the same texts as our greatest sages. The connection you will feel is simply that much deeper.

Learning to read Hebrew is not as easy as taking a stroll, but I am sure with some effort, you will be successful. And in the long term it is well worth it!

See our Bar and Bat Mitzvah minisite.