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Home » Coming of Age

Life Cycle: Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Submitted by on November 4, 2005 – 2:41 amNo Comment | 2,257 views

Held Accountable

The Hebrew words “ar/Bat Mitzvah mean “one who is held accountable for the
Mitzvos”. The Bar Mitzvah ceremony celebrates the official entry of a
child into the religious ranks of adulthood.

According to Torah, children are not required to observe the
commandments of Torah until they reach the religious age of maturity.
For a boy it is the day he turns thirteen. For a girl it is the day she
turns twelve.

It is important to note that the Bar/Bat mitzvah date follows the
Hebrew calendar. In the event that one is unaware of his/her Hebrew
birthday, a rabbi must be consulted.

Our sages have ruled that parents must teach their children the ways of
the Torah from a very young age. This training process, called Chinuch
in Hebrew, allows them to have a proper understanding of their
obligations when they reach the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

Rituals and Celebrations

In most communities the day of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is celebrated with a
festive celebration to which family and friends are invited. These
celebrations are a matter of local custom and usually reflect the
personal taste and means of the parents.

It had become customary to invite a boy at his Bar Mitzvah to recite a
blessing over the Torah. The child recites two blessings, one before
the Torah is read and one immediately following the reading.

In the first blessing, the child expresses his willingness to become a
member of G-d’s chosen nation. In the second blessing he expresses his
willingness to accept the commandments of the Torah.

Many families also train their sons to read from the Torah and lead
portions of the service on this occasion. It is also customary for the
Bar Mitzvah boy to deliver a Dvar Torah (Torah Insight) from the pulpit
on this occasion

From this day and on the child can be counted as part of a Minyan
(quorum of ten people). From this day and on the child is required to
put on Teffilin. From this day and on the child is obligated to keep
every Mitzvah down to its minutest detail.

Bat Mitzvah

A girl at the age of Bat Mitzvah celebrates her maturity in all Torah
matters that pertain to women. Customs regarding the exact specifics of
a Bat Mitzvah celebration differ from community to community.

There are communities in which a Bat Mitzvah party is held with the
same pomp and celebration as that of  Bar Mitzvah. In other communities
the Bat Mitzvah is a women’s only affair.In most communities the Bat
Mitzvah girl will deliver a Dvar Torah (Torah Insight) to mark her rite
of passage into Torah maturity.

The Bat Mitzvah ceremony may lack the ritual of being invited to the
Torah but, with a little planning and ingenuity, a Bat Mitzvah
celebration can be just as meaningful as that of Bar Mitzvah.

It is important to remember that the parties and celebrations simply
serve as a means to an end. They are meant to impress upon the child
the significance of the underlying factor of the day. He/she must
realize that this day is special and holy for he/she has become a