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The Bar Mitzvah or "Son of the Commandments" is an important ceremony which Under Jewish Law, marks the obligation to follow the 613 Jewish Mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah.

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Introduction

The Bar Mitzvah or "Son of the Commandments" is an important ceremony which Under Jewish Law, marks the obligation to follow the 613 Jewish Mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah, 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. Preparation for this ceremony stretches as far back as a year before the ceremony although it may be argued that preparation for this day is undertaken since the child is first enrolled into Jewish school, some synagogues demand 3 years of Jewish education prior to Bar Mitzvah training. A Jewish boy receives special training in important skills he is to display during the Bar Mitzvah ceremony. These skills include donning a tephillin, reading the haftarah and a weekly portion of the Torah. About a year before some synagogues will present the boy with his Tenak, which is the Jewish Bible and a Kippah, which is the skullcap worn by Jewish males on the head also known as the [image002.jpg] Yarmulka. These items symbolize the start of the Bar Mitzvah training. The boy will start supplementary classes in addition to his regularly scheduled classes. During these classes he will learn Hebrew and religion in order to perform rituals such as putting on a tephillin and tallit. He will also learn how to recite the Haftarah (reading from the Prophets) ...read more.

Middle

The Torah contains Jewish laws on Jewish life, food laws, marriage etc. The Torah Scrolls and the Sefer Torah or the parchment it is written is carried out with great reverence. Upon the Bar/Bat Mitzvah confirmation ceremony a Jewish boy automatically becomes a Bar Mitzvah upon reaching the age of 13 years and a girl at 12. No ceremony is needed to confer these rights and obligations. The popular bar/bat mitzvah ceremony is not required, and does not fulfill any commandment. It is a relatively modern innovation, not mentioned in the Talmud. However it does mark the `coming of age' and does mark a difference in life in several aspects. As Bar Mitzvah literally suggests the girl/boy is now responsible to follow his/her religion and obey the 613 mitzvot. Bar and bat mitzvah are considered responsible for their own conduct and are required to observe the commandments. They also assume the privileges of majority--for instance, they can be counted in the minyan; can be called to the Torah for an aliyah; can form binding contracts; can testify before religious courts; can marry; and can wear tefillin (phylacteries donned for prayer). 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. The Torah makes this abundantly clear. In Pirkei Avot, 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. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the modern world where emphasis is shifting towards complex industrial skills rather than simple agriculture a child of 12/13 will hardly be able to support him/herself so the child can't be expected to assume adult responsibilities such as supporting a family. Perhaps when a child is able to fend for himself and is fully developed may he assume adult responsibilities. Another argument is that adolescents of such an age are still easily influenced through impression and to be sure they should be kept in education until their mind is fully developed and matured to handle tougher situations in adult life. I personally think that 12/13 is the right age to assume most adult responsibilities as the child will one day have to support himself and by the time of adolescence he should be aware of what will be expected of him/her throughout his life. Also looking at western law a child of such an age is responsible for minimal criminal liability, can testify in court and can marry with parental consent although it may vary from state to state. Therefore I believe a 12 year old girl and 13 year old boy can be expected to assume adult responsibilities. SOURCES � [1]Copyright 5756-5761 (1996-2001), Tracey R Rich [image007.gif] Yalkut Bar Mitzvah An Anthology of Laws and Customs of a Bar Mitzvah in the Chabad Tradition ______________________________________________________________________ Chapter 2 Preparations for the Bar Mitzvah ___________________________________ by Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov Published and copyright � by [2]Sichos In English [3]http://www.uscj.org/central/stpaulaaron/barbatmtz.html Copyright �1998-2003, Temple Beth Elohim, Brewster, NY. Putting God on the Guest List by Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin Copyright � 2000-2003, Tri-City JCC. ...read more.

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