A bar/bat mitzvah represents a special day that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. One of the major milestones of the day happens with the mitzvah speech. So, it’s important to get it right!
Yet, writing a whole speech can seem very daunting. How do you go about it? How do you know where to start? Here we offer some ways to write a better mitzvah speech. . . in three simple steps:
1. Understand what your haftorah portion is about. It sounds obvious, but a lot of mitzvahs do not quite take the time they need in order to get to the core message of their particular haftorah portion. If you read your portion thoroughly and don’t totally comprehend exactly what it’s about, don’t be shy to ask others for their insight. Go to your rabbi, mitzvah instructor, or parents for guidance. Then, take their insight into consideration and use your own intuition to find meaning in your haftorah portion.
2. Relate the theme of your portion to present day life. How does the story or theme apply to current situations and challenges that you and/or society faces? If nothing comes to mind immediately, work backwards: think of things that matter to you today — anything from gay marriage to the ethical treatment of animals to aiding the needy. Then, connect those things back to your haftorah portion and see if the issues have anything in common or mirror one another in some way. If your portion just doesn’t inspire you, it’s best to find a very specific piece of it that does ignite passion in you and then capitalize on that theme.
3. Don’t censor yourself. When you begin writing, just start putting down whatever comes into your mind. It’s not helpful at this point to self-edit; if something pops into your head, then give it a chance. It’s likely that your subconscious is doing its job and guiding your thought process successfully. So keep writing and expressing your thoughts until they lead to a fluid, comprehensible speech. You can always go back later and edit. Just by giving yourself the freedom to write whatever ideas come to mind, you’ll finish that speech a lot quicker than you thought.
Writing your mitzvah speech is a big task, but you can have greater clarity and better focus just by listening to yourself and giving your thoughts credit. Write them down and don’t feel afraid to say what’s on your mind. It may just turn out to have an incredible impact, like the speech of Duncan McAlpine Sennett — check out his poignant speech below: