Responsibilities of a Bar MitzvahIn the Jewish tradition, a child becomes a full-fledged adult a bar mitzvah when a boy reaches the age of 13 and a bat mitzvah when a girl turns 12. This transition from childhood to adulthood is celebrated with a religious ceremony and reception together with the child’s family and friends. However, apart from the celebration, this occasion also calls for the acceptance of more mature responsibilities in accordance with the Jewish law and religion.
Becoming a bar mitzvah is a process that a child goes through even before his 12th or 13th birthday. A main component of this process is the study of the Jewish religion several months before the child’s birthday. This arrangement is made with the guidance of the parents to make sure that this religious study does not affect the child’s regular schooling.
Before reaching the age of maturity, parents are responsible for teaching their children the Jewish law and tradition. Once they enter adulthood, they are given the privilege to take part in all aspects of Jewish community life and carry the responsibility of following Jewish law, tradition and moral obligations.
There are several obligations that a bar mitzvah should fulfill as an adult Jew. According to Jewish law, these responsibilities include:
- Being morally responsible for one’s own actions. This means that parents are no longer responsible for whatever wrongdoings their child commits.
- Being eligible to be called to read from the Torah and to take part in the minyan. The Orthodox denomination allows only the males to read from the Torah. Being called to read the Torah blessings is the highest honor from the synagogue known as an aliyah. This is done for the first time by a Jewish adult during a Shabbat service on or after his 13th birthday. Leading certain parts of the morning prayer services may also be called for.
- Making a speech called the d’var Torah. This speech should be made in consultation with the parents and religious leader. A bar mitzvah is supposed to discuss the chapters and verses in the Torah assigned to him, relate them to his personal life as he becomes an adult and what lessons can be derived from such portions.
- Being allowed to own what they possess as personal property.
- They are considered old enough to be legally married.
- They are required to follow the 613 laws of the Torah.
As a Jewish son becomes of age, it is usually at this time when they are expected to change into a more responsible individual doing good as much as they can to help other people. Religious leaders stress that a bar mitzvah need to acquire a Jewish identity and develop the three ideal traits of Jewish people – merciful, shameful and benevolent.
Instilling these three important attributes in the minds of children depend primarily on how they were raised by their parents and how they absorb the teachings of their rabbis.
Keep in mind that parents are the first teachers and main role models of children at home hence, they play a major part in instilling the proper values to their kids as early as possible.
Read more articles on the subject: Bar Mitzvah Traditions Still Being Observed Today