What is BAR MITZVAH / BAT MITZVAH?
Is it important to observe BAR / BAT MITZVAH in life as a Messianic Jew?
BAR / BAT MITZVAH is something that has been on-going as a JEWISH CUSTOM / TRADITION for centuries. Even our Messiah YAHUSHUA took part in it as revealed in the HOLY BIBLICAL SCRIPTURES through a hint given.
It is actually a great ceremony to have in life. It is very significant just like One’s DAYS OF ACCEPTING YAH’S SALVATION and BAPTISM.
It might interest you to know that YAHUSHUA HA MASHIACH actually had a BAR MITZVAH Ceremony of some kind during his life time on earth in the human flesh. It most likely was not as elaborate as it would be today but he actually had one. Evidence for this is found in:
Luke 2:41-52 Tree of Life Version (TLV)
The Boy Astonishes Jerusalem Scholars
41 Now His parents were going every year to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. [a] 42 When He became twelve years old, they were going up according to festival custom. 43 As they headed home after completing the days, the boy Yeshua remained in Jerusalem, but His parents didn’t know. 44 Supposing He was in the caravan, they went a day’s journey, then began looking for Him among relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him.
46 After three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting in the center of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all those hearing Him were astonished at His understanding and His answers. 48 When His parents saw Yeshua, they were overwhelmed. And His mother said to Him, “Child, why did you do this to us? Look! Your father and I were searching for You frantically!”
49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for Me? Didn’t you know that I must be about the things of My Father?” 50 But they did not grasp the message He was telling them.
51 Then He went down with them to Natzeret and was obedient to them. But His mother treasured all these words in her heart. 52 And Yeshua kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
In the past, the training seemed to have started at the age of 12 for boys and 11 for girls.
Those children who were to be dedicated and committed to YAHUVEH/YAHWEH GOD’S Service by staying in the Temple from around 3 years old thereby being raised and looked after by the Priests (for example, Prophet Samuel, Mary the earthly mother of YAHUSHUA HA MASHIACH, etc), would actually start their BAR / BAT MITZVAH Training much earlier than age 12 and 11. By the times of their BAR / BAT MITZVAH, keeping in mind that only boys actually openly celebrated theirs in the Temple during a SHABBAT SERVICE while girls were given in marriage once an appropriate partner once they reached their BAT MITZVAH age, they were more well equipped than those who had not been staying in the Temple.
Today, boys and girls start preparing for their BAR /BAT MITZVAH at the age of 5.
When a boy turns 12, he starts to attend more serious classes until close to his 13th birthday. If his 13th birthday falls on SHABBAT (a.k.a Jewish Sabbath which is sun-down Friday to sun-down Saturday), then the BAR MITZVAH CEREMONY will occur on that day but if it does not fall on SHABBAT, then the BAR MITZVAH CEREMONY will be scheduled to take place during the SHABBAT SERVICE after his 13th birthday.
On the other, When a girl turns 11, he starts to attend more serious classes until close to her 12th birthday. If her 12th birthday falls on SHABBAT (a.k.a Jewish Sabbath which is sun-down Friday to sun-down Saturday), then the BAT MITZVAH CEREMONY will occur on that day but if it does not fall on SHABBAT, then the BAT MITZVAH CEREMONY will be scheduled to take place during the SHABBAT SERVICE after her 12th birthday.
It has been shown that girls tend to mature more quickly than boys so they are “BAT MITZVAHed” at the age of 12. Boys are given an extra year to grow up before they are “BAR MITZVAHed”.
As time goes on and YAHUVEH / YAHWEH’S Ministry Fellowship grows, we hope to do Messianic Bar & Bat Mitzvot Ceremonies for both boys and girls respectively in attempt to encourage YAHUVEH / YAHWEH GOD’S Children to learn HIS WORD!!!!
MORE INFORMATION on this TO BE ADDED AS TIME GOES ON….
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
(A:vi, S: v) 4 “Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad [Hear, Isra’el! Adonai our God, Adonai is one]; 5 and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources. 6 These words, which I am ordering you today, are to be on your heart; 7 and you are to teach them carefully to your children. You are to talk about them when you sit at home, when you are traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them on your hand as a sign, put them at the front of a headband around your forehead, 9 and write them on the door-frames of your house and on your gates.
Mazal Tov (that is to say “Congratulations / Well done”)!
Bar mitzvah preparations can be both exciting and overwhelming.
Bar Mitzvah = the initiation ceremony of a Jewish boy who has reached the age of 13 and is regarded as ready to observe religious precepts and eligible to take part in public worship.
“BAR MITZVAH” literally means “SON OF THE COMMANDMENT / LAW.”
“BAT MITZVAH” literally means “DAUGHTER OF THE COMMANDMENT / LAW.
“Bar” is “son” in Aramaic, which is used to be the vernacular of the Jewish people. “Mitzvah” is “commandment” in both Hebrew and Aramaic.
“Bat” is daughter in Hebrew and Aramaic. (The Ashkenazic pronunciation is “bas”).
Technically, the term refers to the child who is coming of age, and it is strictly correct to refer to someone as “becoming a bar (or bat) mitzvah.”
However, the term is more commonly used to refer to the coming of age ceremony itself, and you are more likely to hear that someone is “having a Bar Mitzvah / Bat Mitzvah” or “invited to a Bar Mitzvah / Bat Mitzvah.”
So what does it mean to become a BAR MITZVAH / BAT MITZVAH?
Under Jewish Law, children are not obligated to observe the commandments, although they are encouraged to do so as much as possible to learn the obligations they will have as adults. At the age of “13 for boys” and “12 for girls,” children become obligated to observe the COMMANDMENTS.
The Bar Mitzvah ceremony formally, publicly marks the assumption of that obligation, along with the corresponding right to take part in leading religious services, to count in a minyan (the minimum number of people needed to perform certain parts of religious services), to form binding contracts, to testify before religious courts and to marry.
A Jewish boy or girl automatically becomes a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah respectively upon reaching the age of 13 years and a girl upon reaching the age of 12 years. No ceremony is needed to confer these rights and obligations. The popular Bar mitzvah ceremony is not required, and does not fulfill any commandment. However it is encouraged because YAHUVEH / YAHWEH GOD Almighty commands in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 to “… impress HIS LAW (TORAH) upon our children. The Bar and Bat Mitzvah is one way of doing it as it encourages the children to learn the TORAH and HAFTORAH plus the NEW COVENANT / NEW TESTAMENT at a very young age. YAHUVEH/YAHWEH GOD says in Proverbs that we should teach / show our children the right way to go from a young age and they will not depart from it as they grow older.
Proverbs 22:6 New King James Version (NKJV)
6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Psalm 119:11 New King James Version (NKJV)
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Psalm 119:105 King James Version (KJV)
105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
In its earliest and most basic form, a bar mitzvah is the celebrant’s first aliyah. During Shabbat services on a Saturday shortly after the child’s 13th or 12th birthday, or even the Monday or Thursday weekday services immediately after the child’s 13th birthday, the celebrant is called up to the TORAH to recite a blessing over the weekly reading.
- Today, it is common practice for the BAR MITZVAH celebrant to do much more than just say the blessing.
- It is most common for the celebrant to learn the entire HAF-TORAH Portion (usually PROPHETS or WRITINGS), including its traditional chant, and recite that.
- In some congregations, the celebrant reads the entire weekly TORAH Portion, or leads part of the service, or leads the congregation in certain important prayers.
- The celebrant is also generally required to make a speech, which traditionally begins with the phrase “today I am a man.”
- The father traditionally recites a blessing thanking YAHUVEH / YAHWEH GOD for removing the burden of being responsible for the son’s sins (because now the child is old enough to be held responsible for his own actions).
- In modern times, the religious service is followed by a reception that is often as elaborate as a wedding reception.
In Orthodox and Chasidic practice, women are not permitted to participate in religious services in these ways, so a BAT MITZVAH, if celebrated at all, is usually little more than a party. In other movements of Judaism (such as Liberal JUDAISM; Reform JUDAISM; MESSIANIC JUDAISM, etc), the girls do exactly the same thing as the boys.
It is important to note that a bar mitzvah / bat mitzvah is not the goal of a Jewish education, nor is it a graduation ceremony marking the end of a person’s Jewish education.
We are obligated to study TORAH throughout our lives. To emphasize this point, some rabbis require a Bar Mitzvah / Bat Mitzvah student to sign an agreement promising to continue Jewish education after the Bar Mitzvah / Bat Mitzvah.
Is 13 or 12 an Adult?
Many people mock the idea that a 12 or 13 year old child is an adult, claiming that it is an outdated notion based on the needs of an agricultural society. This criticism comes from a misunderstanding of the significance of becoming a bar mitzvah.
Bar mitzvah is not about being a full adult in every sense of the word, ready to marry, go out on your own, earn a living and raise children. It is said that while 13 is the proper age for fulfillment of the Commandments, 18 is the proper age for marriage and 20 is the proper age for earning a livelihood. Elsewhere, it is said that the proper age for marriage is said to be 16-24.
BAR MITZVAH is simply the age when a person is held responsible for his actions and minimally qualified to marry. If you compare this to secular law, you will find that it is not so very far from our modern notions of a child’s maturity. In Anglo-American common law, a child of the age of 14 is old enough to assume many of the responsibilities of an adult, including minimal criminal liability. Under United States law, 14 is the minimum age of employment for most occupations (though working hours are limited so as not to interfere with school). In many states, a fourteen year old can marry with parental consent. Children of any age are permitted to testify in court, and children over the age of 14 are permitted to have significant input into custody decisions in cases of divorce. Certainly, a 13-year-old child is capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong and of being held responsible for his actions, and that is all it really means to become a bar mitzvah.
Yes, gifts are commonly given. They are ordinarily given at the reception, not at the service itself. Please keep in mind that a bar mitzvah is incorporated into an ordinary Sabbath service, and many of the people present at the service may not be involved in the bar mitzvah.
The nature of the gift varies significantly depending on the community. At one time, the most common gifts were a nice pen set or a college savings bond (usually in multiples of $18, a number that is considered to be favorable in Jewish tradition, see: Hebrew Alphabet: Numerical Values). In many communities today, however, the gifts are the same sort that you would give any child for his 13th birthday. It is best to avoid religious gifts if you don’t know what you’re doing, but Jewish-themed gifts are not a bad idea. For example, you might want to give a book that is a biography of a Jewish person that the celebrant might admire. I hesitate to get into specifics, for fear that some poor celebrant might find himself with several copies of the same thing!
When in doubt, ask the parents.