Bar & Bat Mitzvah

Bar & Bat Mitzvah is a term which is used to describe a boy and girl who has come of age, and the ceremony which is held to honor the event respectively. The laws of Judaism state that children are not required to adhere to its commandments, although they are expected to learn them so that they may starting adhering once they become adults. Once a boy reaches the age of 13, he is expecting to begin observing these laws, and for girls, they are expected to begin following them at age 12.

Why Does The Bar & Bat Mitzvah Exist?

The bar & bat mitzvah is a ceremony which publicly marks a male or female as being obligated to follow Jewish commandments. They also acquire other rights, including the ability to partake in religious tasks or count within the minyan. After a bar & bat mitzvah is complete a boy or girl (now a teenager) will also be capable of testifying in front of religious courts, drafting contracts which are binding and even marrying.

 

A Jewish girl will become bat mitzvah automatically by age 12 and for Jewish boys at age 13. A ceremony is not mandatory for the rights and responsibilities that they will have, but has become quite popular among the Jews. It should also be stressed that unlike many Jewish customs the bar & bat mitzvah is not something that was established in ancient times; it was developed during modern times and no mention of it is made in the Talmud.

How Does The Bar & Bat Mitzvah Work?

The ceremony will usually be held on Shabbat service during the Saturday immediately after a boy reaches his 13th birthday. However, they are sometimes held on Mondays or Thursdays, days during which the Torah is read. The celebrant will come to the Torah and will then recite a blessing during the reading for that week. The bar mitzvah has become quite elaborate and in some cases, is even comparable to a wedding.

 

The celebrant may be expected to memorize the “haftarah” (a reading from the Prophets) and then recite it. They may also be required to lead the service for that week, or to lead specific prayers. One feature which is common to almost every bar mitzvah, regardless of the congregation, is for the celebrant to give a speech, which begins with them declaring that they have become a man. The father may also speak, blessing God for eliminating his responsibility for his son’s sins now that his son is old enough to be responsible for them.

 

In Orthodox Judaism, females are usually not allowed to conduct religious services, so if a celebration does take place it will be modest party. However, among some Modern Orthodox Jews, the bat mitzvah is considered just as important as the bar mitzvah, and females are expected to perform the same duties as their male counterparts.