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December 06, 1985 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-12-06

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24

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, December 6, 1985

your advertising dollars do better in

THE JEWISH NEWS

Call Us Today! 354-6060

Al

OP-ED

Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Continued from Page 4



tial of being one of the most
stirring and religiously-
motivating times of a young
person's life, with the serious
support of a concerned parent to
foster its development.
Historically, the Bar/Bat
Mitzvah ceremony which we
witness in American Jewish life
is relatively new. The Bar
Mitzvah as we know it today
dates back to the 15th Century
and the Bat Mitzvah really did
not take hold in this country
until some 35-40 years ago.
It is quite true that the bibli-
cal and talmudic origins of this
entire concept go back some two
millenia, when reference is
made to Eleazar Ben Shimon's
ruling that a father is not le-
gally held responsible for the ac-
tions of his son, past the age of
13.
The Talmud in Kiddushin
ruled that young men at 13, and
young women at 12, had
reached the age wherein they
must assume religious responsi-
bility as well as puberty and ul-
timately maturity.
The Midrash relates to us,
that the age of 13 was a crucial
time for a young man, in that
Abraham was 13 when he re-
jected his father's life-style of
idolatry. Also, at 13, Jacob and
Esau too chose to go their own
ways ... Jacob to study Torah
under the tutelage of scholars,
while Esau became an idol-
worshipper.
In the synagogue of yes-
teryear, and in some Chasidic
congregations today, we find the
blessing which was always pro-
nounced by the young man's
father still utilized: "Blessed be
he who has now ridded me of
this responsibility" ... This re-
fers to the - son now having his

own religious duties and respon-
sibilities, and is thus considered
a mature young adult.
Surprisingly, in the shtetel of
Eastern Europe most Bar
Mitzvah boys did not celebrate
their Bar Mitzvah on Shabbat
morning, as is the American-
Canadian custom. Rather, they
were called to the Torah and re-
ceived their first aliya on the
Monday or Thursday morning
following their birthday. The
family tendered some schnapps
and pastry or perhaps herring
too, and thus concluded the
youngster's entry into adult
Jewish life. He was now offi-
cially counted for a minyan and
able to "don tefillin" as part of
his daily ritual of prayer, stres-
sing the fact that he was of age.
In recent years, two sites in
Israel have become associated
with BartBat Mitzvah celebra-
tions ... the - Kotel-Western
Wall in Jerusalem, and the his-
toric Masada, just south of
Jerusalem.
In my humble opinion, the
Bar`Bat Mitzvah ceremony had
the potential to embed and emb-
lazon Jewish youth with a posit-
ive outlook and with serious
Jewish goals. Many of the young
people whom I was privileged to
prepare and to lead through
their respective ceremonies told
me that their parents regarded
this as the end of any and all
formal Jewish education. The
rabbi has lost the battle, before
he begins!
The time has come to re-
evaluate the rabbi's words as
found in the Mishna of Avot.
Shlosh esreh l'mitzvot
upon
attaining his 13th birthday, a
young person is ripe and ready
to assume God's commandments.

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