When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 1 Corinthians 13:11

Bar Mitzvah   

(or Son of the Commandments)

Reading from TorahComing of Age for a Jewish Man

Bar Mitzvah is the celebration when a Jewish boy  becomes a man and takes on the responsibilities of a man before GOD and Israel.  

In Jesus' day boys of twelve had their Bar Mitzvah and were, in many cases, tested on their knowledge and belief in the Temple.  Look at the story of Jesus in the Temple   ( Luke 2 v41-52 ) in this light.  He had come up to Jerusalem for his first Passover, and may well have had his Bar mitzvah while the family was there. 

In Jewish culture, the quality of a person's questions is seen as the best measure of his understanding and maturity.  Remember how the scribes were amazed at Jesus' questions!

Nowadays a young man has his Bar mitzvah on the Shabbat after his thirteenth birthday.  He has to recite a portion from Torah, read and pray.

"Shema Israel" is an important scripture for this day.  It starts,  "Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad"  "Hear O Israel, the LORD your God The LORD is one"    (Deuteronomy 6 v4-9)   It goes on to exhort Israel to love GOD wholeheartedly and teach their children well.  It also speaks of binding GOD's word to ones arms and forehead.  The young man will do this pictorially as part of the service with his  Tefillin, which are the small black boxes on long leather straps which contain portions of the "Sh'ma Israel" passage.

A father is responsible for his son's actions until his Bar mitzvah.  During the ceremony he says,  "Praised be he who released me from punishment for the actions of this one."  This led to a famous quote,  "Until the thirteenth year I talk to my son about God; after his Bar mitzvah I talk to God about my son."

Nowadays many young women celebrate Bat Mitzvah.   ( Daughter of the commandments )


Jewish males have other rites before Bar mitzvah.


All, healthy, Jewish males are circumcised on the eighth day.  It marks their entry into the covenant.   Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day and given the name Yeshua  (God saves) as his parents had been instructed by the angel.  This was the occasion when Simeon and Anna saw him.   ( see Matt 1 v21 and Luke 2 v21 )    Brit Milah, or Circumcision


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