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Bar Mitzvah 101

Our Bar Mitzvah website is a free online resource for planning and learning about Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah party

Bar Mitzvah in Israel

Our Bar Mitzvah in Israel website is a free online resource for planning a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah party in Israel

The History of Bar Mitzvah / Bat Mitzvah

Celebrating the bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah among the Jewish children has become so widespread these days. It is considered a very important occasion in the life of a 12-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy as they enter adulthood. But how did this event evolve?

Originally, only the bar mitzvah is first mentioned in the Talmud referred to as “an agent subject to scriptural commands.” In the Talmud, it is stated that a boy who reaches the age of 13 has legal responsibilities. It is also in the Misnah that the age of 13 is stated as the time a person is made responsible for observing the Torah’s commandments.

The term bar mitzvah as it is used today can be traced back to the 14th century referring to the rabbinical term “bar onshin” or son of punishment which means he is liable to be punished for his wrongdoings. It was in the 1920’s when the first bat mitzvah was held to give equal honor to a young woman’s right of passage into Jewish adulthood.

Many early sources state that the ceremony to celebrate the bar mitzvah started in the Middle Ages. There are also various earlier references to the age of 13 as obligatory for following the Torah commandments.

The public reading of the Torah, meanwhile, began in 444 B.C.E. with Ezra the Scribe after the Jewish people returned from exile in Babylon. The Torah, since then, was divided into 54 weekly portions; each called a Parasha, which are read in every synagogue around the world based on the Hebrew calendar. These readings are done at each Shabbat service.

Today, Jewish religious leaders emphasize that more than the celebration, bar and bat mitzvahs should be made to gain a deep understanding of their spiritual and moral obligations as they assume a new status in their lives. It should be a major task for them to take part in the Shabbat service on a regular basis throughout their adulthood and to give to charitable institutions during their celebration as a way of sharing their blessings with the unfortunate people in their community.

Read more articles on the subject: Bar Mitzvah Traditions Still Being Observed Today

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