Rabbi, Thank you for your help.
I generally am a person that does not see things as black and white or have a need for perfection. I understand that usually things are grey and that when making a decision you have to weigh all the pros and cons and often a choice is not perfect and there will be things that are not exact or ideal but you still make the choice. That being said, my wife and I are having an extremely difficult time making a decision.
We live in Florida and our second son will, thanks to Hashem, be turning 13 shortly before the next Pesach. We would like to do the same thing we did for our first son who turned 13 last summer and make for him a special Shabbos & Weekend celebration with our family from around the world in honor of his Bar Mitzvah. For our first son, since his Bar Mitzvah fell out in the middle of the summer, when many of his cousins and friends were away in camp, we pushed off making the Shabbos/celebration until the end of the summer and did it then instead. Overall it was well attended but did not work out for the family who lived out of town that either worked in a school or had kids in school so we were both disappointed that two of our siblings had to leave with their families early and missed the celebration and especially sad that all of my sisters kids and one of my brothers kids except for his oldest daughter did not even come.
After talking with my a family who many of them have been coming to Florida consistently basically every year for Pesach for over 30 years and looking into a date for my second upcoming son’s bar mitzvah, It seems to me very clear that the best thing to do is push off his Bar Mitzvah celebration by one week to do it the week before Pesach so all those coming anyway for Pesach could be there for the celebration and those that won’t be in Florida, could still come as they would not be Chas V’Shalom Mechalel Shabbos of course preparing Pesach so they were not going to work anyway to prepare on Shabbos itself and would still be able to fly back to their homes and have 4 days after Shabbos before Pesach starts.
I suggested the idea to my wife and she said it was not a good idea since her mother cannot waste a second before Pesach attending the Bar Mitzvah celebration. I couldn’t understand and said that if anything it would be a help as many shuls and community yeshivas do the Shabbos before Pesach – they make chometz community meals to give everyone a break from preparing for Pesach and not have to worry about having chometz in their home which cleaned already for pesach. My wife said though that her mother wouldn’t even waste a few hours before or after shabbos this past year to go away to her brother for Shabbos so she did not like the idea. The Problem I have with that is that it is both very extreme and also will both hurt the attendance of the simcha and cause an aveirah of many losing money and agmas nefesh for my parents and family as I will explain.
Additionally, we all know that if Pesach is on March 25th or April 1st or April 15th or whatever day you choose, her mother will still be doing things up to the last day so if she had less time it would be the exact same and she would get it done, especially here where she would know well ahead of time and could prepare to have everything on pace or finished so the little amount of time she would lose before and after shabbos attending. Mind you, my mother also has made Pesach for many years and has no issue with this and is in the exact same boat. If anything my mother is even more of a factor as my wifes mother who unfortunately got divorced recently does not even know if she will be making and hosting Pesach this upcoming year or even if she will be still living in New York or moving to Florida or where she will be while my mother plans once again to be making Pesach and hosting everyone. She only missed it 2 times in over 40 years both because of a problem she had with her hand so she went away for Pesach.
Should we not make the Bar Mitzvah the week before Pesach, it will hurt the attendance greatly as that week is Bein Hazmanim and all of his cousins are off of Yeshiva anyway and individuals like my sister who lives with her family of 5 in Europe or my Uncle and Cousins who are another 16 people and plan to come anyway to Florida for Pesach will not be able to attend. They cannot fly twice from Europe and it would be an Aveira also to cause them and my parents who help pay for tickets lose money and even then their kids would not be able to come. My wife though is not concerned with this and feels that if the Bar Mitzvah was any other time of the year they would come and spend money so it should not be a factor. I think its an aveira to cause them a loss of money which would be tens of thousands of dollars and disagree as they might not come another time and also their kids for sure who are the Bar Mitvzah boys’ cousins would not be able to attend which will cause great anguish and pain to my parents and also disappointment for me, the bar mitvzah boy and also my wife even. I also believe my wifes brother who is in Kollel will be more likely to come as he has bein hazmanim then although my wife said her brothers prefer not the week before Pesach in case they make Pesach, as a ROV, majority they do not make Pesach. They have always gone to their parents with the exception of Covid and one time last year making half Pesach but regardless even if they do, their kids would be on bein hazmanim and they could know this information and still come for shabbos and help us not cause a lack of attendance and to do an aveirah and cause people to lose tens of thousand of dollars.
I totally understand that it is not ideal for her mother but it’s also not ideal for my mother and she is much more of a vadai making Pesach then my wife’s mother who is a huge safeik as she said there is a high possibility, she might not be able to make Pesach again and does not even know where she will be living. I am not sure how that should override people not being able to attend or doing an aveirah and causing people to lose tens of thousands of dollars and have anguish when even if her mother ends up making Pesach she can know this information ahead of time and plan for it and will lose nothing and if anything, have a nice Shabbos without worrying about chametz in here home before Pesach.
I appreciate your Psak greatly on what should be done to avoid anguish of less people attending and an aveira of causing tens of thousands of dollars in loss of money and look forward to hearing what you say should be done
with a great deal of Hakaras Hatov for your help and time
Thank you for your question.
It does seem to be a complicated situation, since you are trying to include everyone, and there are too many people and factors to be able to meet everyone’s needs, and have them all attend, and keep everyone happy. From what you are writing it seems that the crux of the issue is that your mother-in-law should be happy with the time of the bar mitzva. In a way I understand her nervousness about leaving a week before Pesach, it is not just a few hours, like going to the local shul for meals. It means packing up on Wednesday, or Thursday, and coming back on Sunday exhausted, 72 hours before bedikas chametz. Different people take things differently, and if one person is laid back about the Pesach cleaning or highly organized then they can swing it, however many people get very uptight about the Pesach leaning and preparations, and for them it is a tremendous pressure. To add to this your brother-in-law, who might be making Pesach will also be under extra pressure as a result of this. On the other hand, indeed it is a burden on the family from overseas. Yes, they would come if the Bar mitzva would be two months later, but to take two overseas trips within two weeks is also not something they will be willing to do.
How about inviting your mother in law to you for Pesach? She will come for the Bar mitzva and stay until after Pesach. This way, she can sell the house, and she won’t have the pressure of all the purchases before Pesach and all the cleaning etc. I don’t know your family situation, but if that won’t work for you, maybe you can arrange for your mother-in-law to go to one of your brother or sister in laws for Pesach. Needless to say, if there is a need for you to assist them financially, consider it part of the expenses of the Bar mitzva. This way the pressure will be off your mother-in-law, and if the sibling needs some help preparing for Pesach of hosting your mother-in-law.
You should have siyata dishmaya, that this situation should work out and that everything should fall into place. And the main thing is that your son should grow up to be a talmid chacham and yirei shomayim, with good middos.