Bar and Bat Mitzvah


Bar and Bat Mitzvah

In Judaism, Bar Mitzvah (Hebrew: בר מצוה, "one (m.) to whom the commandments apply"), Bat Mitzvah (בת מצוה, "one (f.) to whom the commandments apply;" Ashkenazi: Bas Mitzvah), and B'nei Mitzvah (pl.), are the terms to describe the coming of age of a Jewish boy or girl. According to Jewish law, when Jewish children reach the age of majority (generally thirteen years for boys and twelve for girls) they become responsible for their actions, and "become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah." In many Conservative and Reform synagogues, girls celebrate their Bat Mitzvahs at age 13, along with boys. This also coincides with physical puberty. [Niddah, 45b.] Prior to this, the child's parents are responsible for the child's adherence to Jewish law and tradition, and after this age, children bear their own responsibility for Jewish ritual law, tradition, and ethics and are privileged to participate in all areas of Jewish community life. [Traditionally, the father of the Bar Mitzvah boy gives thanks to God that he is no longer punished for the child's sins. (Genesis Rabba, Toldot 23:11)]

It is a common misconception that the Bar Mitzvah ceremony causes a change in status from youth to adulthood. In fact, the rights and responsibilties vest solely because of age, and the Bar Mitzvah ceremony is typically an ordinary Sabbath service in which the boy or girl participates for the first time as an adult. Although the term "Bar Mitzvah" is commonly, even among Jews, used to refer to the ceremony, it actually refers to the boy or girl who has come of age. In modern Jewish observance, the occasion of becoming a Bar Mitzvah or (in non-Orthodox congregations) a Bat Mitzvah is usually associated with the young man or woman being called to read the Torah and/or Haftarah portion at a Shabbat or other service, and may also involve them giving a d'var Torah including a discussion of that week's Torah portion. Precisely what the Bar/Bat Mitzvah may do during the service varies in Judaism's different denominations, and can also depend on the specific practices of various congregations. Regardless of the nature of the celebration, males become entirely culpable and responsible for following Jewish law once they reach the age of 13, and females once they reach the age of 12.

The majority of Orthodox Jews reject the idea that a woman can publicly read from the Torah or lead prayer services while there is a minyan (quorum of 10 males) available to do so. However, the public celebration of a girl becoming Bat Mitzvah in other ways has made strong inroads in Modern Orthodox Judaism and in some elements of Haredi Judaism. In these congregations women do not read from the Torah or lead prayer services but occasionally they will lecture on a Jewish topic to mark their coming of age, learn a book of Tanakh, recite the verses from other texts (such as the Book of Esther or the Book of Psalms) or prayers from the siddur.

In the Sephardic tradition, a boy may enter adulthood somewhat later, waiting until after his 14th birthday.]

Kaplan, an Orthodox rabbi who joined Conservative Judaism and then became the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, influenced Jews from all branches of non-Orthodox Judaism, through his position at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. At the time, most Orthodox rabbis strongly rejected its usage.Fact|date=October 2007

As the ceremony became accepted for females as well as males, many women chose to celebrate the ceremony even though they were much older, as a way of formalizing and celebrating their place in the adult Jewish community.Fact|date=October 2007

Today, most non-Orthodox Jews celebrate a girl's Bat Mitzvah in the same way as a boy's Bar Mitzvah. All Reform and Reconstructionist, and most [Conservative Judaism is pluralistic, and a small percent of Conservative synagogues reject the halakhic propriety of women reading the Torah portion in public.] Conservative synagogues have egalitarian participation in which women read from the Torah and lead services. The majority of Orthodox Judaism rejects the idea that a woman can publicly read from the Torah or lead prayer services while a minyan (quorum of 10 adult males) is available to do so. This was done because a woman reading the Torah or leading the prayer services implied that the men were illiterate and couldn't (Massechet Megilah).

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, in a prominent Orthodox "posek," has opposed anyone attending a Bat Mitzvah and has referred to the ceremony as "hevel", nonsense. The Sephardic rabbi René Samuel Sirat, who served as Chief Rabbi of France, has also opposed Bat Mitzvah. However, the public celebration of a girl becoming Bat Mitzvah has made strong inroad in Modern Orthodox Judaism. In these congregations women do not read from the Torah or lead prayer services but occasionally they will lecture on a Jewish topic to mark their coming of age, learn a book of Tanakh, or recite the verses from other texts (such as the Book of Esther or the Book of Psalms) or prayers from the siddur.

econd Bar Mitzvah

Among some Jewswho?, it is customary for a man who has reached the age of 83 to celebrate a second bar mitzvah, under the logic that a "normal" lifespan is 70 years, so that an 83-year-old can be considered 13 in a second lifetime. This practice is now becoming increasingly common among other denominationswho? as well. [ [http://www.jewishsf.com/content/2-0-/module/displaystory/story_id/16289/edition_id/319/format/html/displaystory.html j. - Encore for violinist: 2nd bar mitzvah at 83 ] ] [Actor [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000018/bio Kirk Douglas] had a second Bar Mitzvah at age 83.]

Bar/Bat Mitzvah gifts

As with weddings, it is common to give the Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebrant a gift to commemorate the occasion. Traditionally, common gifts included books with religious or educational value, religious items, writing implements, savings bonds (to be used for the child's college education) or gift certificates [http://www.jewfaq.org/barmitz.htm] [http://parents.berkeley.edu/recommend/religion/mitzvah.html#50] . Gifts of cash are commonplace in recent times. As with charity and all other gifts it has become common to give in multiples of 18: the "gematria", or numerical equivalence of the Hebrew word for "life", ("chai") is the number 18. Monetary gifts in multiples of 18 are considered to be particularly auspicious and have become very common for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. Many Bar/Bat Mitzvah also receive their first tallit from their parents to be used for the occasion.

Humanist Judaism's procedures

Instead of reading from the Torah, some Humanist Jews prefer to research, write, and present a research paper on a topic in Jewish history to mark their coming of age. [http://www.myjewishlearning.com/lifecycle/Bar_Bat_Mitzvah/InPractice/MollysBatMitzvah.htm] [http://www.citycongregation.org/index.php?pageID=0031]

References

"This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia#if:{article|}| article #if:{url|}| [{url|} "{article}"#if:{url|}|] #if:{author|}| by {author}, a publication now in the public domain."

Further reading

Oppenheimer, Mark. "Thirteen and a Day: The Bar and Bat Mitzvah across America." New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005.

External links

* [http://www.myjewishlearning.com/lifecycle/Bar_Bat_Mitzvah/History/HistoryBarMitzvah.htm Schauss, Hayyim. History of Bar Mitzvah]
* [http://www.jewish-world.org.il/BarMitzva/english/Main.aspx?Language=english&PageLink=236&lesson=3 Bar/Bat Mitzvah curriculum in the Jewish Agency website]
* [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/firstbat.html Article on the First Bat Mitzvah Celebration of Judith Kaplan] at the Jewish Virtual Library Web Site
* [http://www.chabad.org/library/article.asp?AID=259492 Entering Adulthood - the Bar and Bat Mitzvah] chabad.org
* [http://www.my-bar-mitzvah.com Bar/Bat Mitzvah resources] at my-bar-mitzvah.com
* [http://www.encyclopaediajudaica.com/AboutTheEncyclopaedia/SampleContent/SampleContentBarMitzvah/ Encyclopaedia Judaica excerpt on Bar/Bat Mitvah] at EncyclopaediaJudaica.com
* [http://www.doctorsimcha.com Bar/Bat Mitzvah resources & community] at DoctorSimcha.com
* [http://www.chabad.org/calendar/bar-bat-mitzvah.asp?AID=6227 Bar/Bat Mitzvah Calculator]
* [http://www.bar-mitzvah.org.il The Official Israeli Ministry of Tourism Website with information about celebrating Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Jerusalem] Jewish life


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • BAR MITZVAH, BAT MITZVAH — (Heb. masc. בַּר מִצְוָה, fem. בַּת מִצְוָה; lit. son/daughter of the commandment, i.e., a person under obligation, responsible), term denoting both the attainment of religious and legal maturity as well as the occasion at which this status is… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • bat mitzvah — [ˌba:t ˈmıtsvə] n [Date: 1900 2000; : Hebrew; Origin: bath miswah daughter of (God s) law ] 1.) a religious ceremony held when a Jewish girl reaches the age of 13 and is considered an adult in her religion →↑bar mitzvah 2.) a girl for whom this… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • bat mitzvah — /baht mits veuh, bahs/; Seph. Heb. /baht meets vah /; Ashk. Heb. /bahs mits veuh/, (often caps.) Judaism. 1. a solemn ceremony, chiefly among Reform and Conservative Jews, that is held in the synagogue on Friday night or Saturday morning to admit …   Universalium

  • bat mitzvah — [bα:t mɪtsvə] noun a religious initiation ceremony for a Jewish girl at the age of religious maturity (twelve years and one day). Origin from Heb. baṯ miṛwāh daughter of commandment , suggested by bar mitzvah …   English new terms dictionary

  • Mitzvah — This article is about beliefs in Judaism. For the Jewish rite of passage, see Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah. Part of a series of articles on Jews and Judaism …   Wikipedia

  • MITZVAH — (Heb. מִצְוָה), a commandment, precept, or religious duty. The term is derived from the Hebrew root צוה which means to command or to ordain. In common usage, mitzvah has taken on the meaning of a good deed. Already in the Talmud, this word was… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • bar mitzvah — bar mitz|vah [ˌba: ˈmıtsvə US ˌba:r ] n [Date: 1800 1900; : Hebrew; Origin: bar miswah son of (God s) law ] 1.) the religious ceremony held when a Jewish boy reaches the age of 13 and is considered an adult in his religion →↑bat mitzvah 2.) a boy …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • bar mitzvah — /bahr mits veuh / or, Ashk. Heb. /bahrdd/; Seph. Heb. /bahrdd meets vah /, (often caps.) Judaism. 1. a solemn ceremony held in the synagogue, usually on Saturday morning, to admit as an adult member of the Jewish community a Jewish boy 13 years… …   Universalium

  • Mitzvah goreret mitzvah — Part of a series on …   Wikipedia

  • bat mitz·vah — /bɑtˈmıtsvə/ noun, pl ⋯ vahs [count] : a ceremony and celebration for a Jewish girl usually on her 13th birthday when she takes on the religious duties and responsibilities of an adult; also : a girl for whom a bat mitzvah is held called also bas …   Useful english dictionary


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