In accordance with Jewish law, in the age of thirteen a son is not considered a minor and is responsible to carry through all of the Torah’s commandments. The term “bar mitzvah means “son of ”, the mitzvah or one who’s obligated in mitzvah observance.
The obligation is not manual, if a celebration or special service is held. But since becoming a bar mitzvah is joyous occasion and this kind of important milestone, we make a place of celebrating together with family and friends.
Bar Mitzvah Observance
From time immemorial, Jewish custom continues to be to mark this milestone with a synagogue ceremony welcoming the bar mitzvah boy to the world of Jewish maturity and initiating him in the opportunities and responsibilities which come along with his new status.
The Bar Mitzvah ceremony changes somewhat between communities, but the basic elements remain exactly the same. We’ll investigate all of the practices that are habitual in the order of their relevance. Follow the links at the base of every section for more profound insights and practical tools to assist you prepare for the big day. We wish you enjoy!
Jewish adulthood comes with many responsibilities, but it’s also an enormous privilege. One would be hard pressed to think of a more joyous occasion to observe than a bar mitzvah. Actually, according to some views, to organize a banquet in honor of a bar mitzvah is a mitzvah alone!
Most bar mitzvah celebrations take place directly after the synagogue ceremony and add a jolly meal followed by music (if it is not Shabbat) and dancing.
When selecting a date, bear in mind that if you’re unable to get the party on the day of the particular Bar Mitzvah (i.e. the lad’s thirteenth Jewish birthday) you should plan an additional little celebration on that day.
One closing note: It has become the norm in many communities to celebrate a bar mitzvah on precisely the same scale as a wedding. It’s significant to mention that just as the wedding party is secondary to the wedding ceremony, the Bar Mitzvah ceremony really should be the principal focus of the preparations, and is much more significant compared to the party.
The Bar Mitzvah Speech
It’s accustomed for the bar mitzvah boy to deliver a speech, either in the synagogue after the Torah reading or at the reception that follows.
The speech can also be an ideal opportunity to declare the Mitzvah endeavor and thank family, parents and friends.
The speech typically is made up of notion from the weekly Torah portion, which the young man will utilize in some way. The goal of the address will be to support the bar mitzvah boy in the Jewish tradition of sharing the Torah one has learned with others.
Chanting the Haftarah or Torah Portion
Others have the custom of honoring the bar mitzvah boy with all the last aliyah, known as “Maftir,” after which he chants the haftarah–the reading from the prophets which follows the Shabbat Torah reading.
However many are of the opinion this custom doesn’t have source, and is consequently not a demand for the bar mitzvah ceremony. The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes that in preparation for accepting “the yoke of mitzvot,” the bar mitzvah boy should spend time examining the basics of Judaism, such as the laws controlling daily life. Preparing to read in the Torah or chant the haftarah is not anywhere near as important as the above studies and time intensive. It is therefore preferable to spend this precious time on more important matters.
Bar Mitzvah Offerings
Books are included by traditional presents for the bar mitzvah boy with educational or spiritual worth, religious items, gift certificates, or money. Monetary gifts in multiples of 18 are regarded as being especially auspicious and have become very normal for bar mitzvahs.
Traditionally the parents or grandparents of the bar mitzvah boy take particular pride in purchasing his first set of tefillin as previously mentioned above.
Tefillin are black leather boxes containing parchments inscribed with the Shema and other biblical passages.
Tefillin and the Bar Mitzvah:
Although youthful boys are trained to keep all of the mitzvahs even before their bar mitzvah, tefillin would be the exception. Until he approaches the age of thirteen a lad will not put on tefillin. Because of this, more than some other practice, tefillin have always served as the mark of honour that a lad receives upon his bar mitzvah. Traditionally, his parents and grandparents regard with pride that was particular the purchase of tefillin for a bar mitzvah boy.
Initially, the individual called up (the oleh) would read a section from the Torah himself. But because these days many lack the needed training, there’s a designated “reader” who reads the section out loud, while the oleh reads along gently (or listens).
Aliyah means “ascent,” referring both to the physical ascent onto the platform where the Torah is read and to the religious elevation experienced then.
Traditionally, a lad is honored with an aliyah on the first “Torah-reading-day” that follows his thirteenth birthday. Some wait for the first Shabbat that follows the bar mitzvah.
To be able to receive an aliyah, one know the blessings recited before and after the reading and must be familiar with the procedure of being called up to the Torah.