Myth:В A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is an event.
Fact: В A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a person.
Myth:В You go through a specific ceremony and вЂњbecome Bar/Bat MitzvahвЂ™edвЂќ.
Fact:В В Becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah marks that you have reached a certain emotional maturity. It develops at age of 12 for a girl and at 13 for a boy. It happens with or without a party, a rabbi or a ceremony. (An adult may celebrate his/her commitment to Torah at any age in life, and that has become loosely termed as an вЂњadult Bar MitzvahвЂќ.)
Myth:В Bar/Bat Mitzvah training consists of at least one year studying to read Hebrew.
Fact:В В While many focus on Hebrew Reading skill, Bar/Bat Mitzvah is about taking the вЂњtrainingвЂќ вЂ“ the education вЂ“ that we got during our childhood, and growing forward for the rest of life.
Myth:В The idea tha a child becomes an adult at 12/13 is outdated, based on the needs of an agricultural society.
Fact:В В Establishing early teens as the onset of adulthood, with new vistas of responsibilities opening, is used even by modern society. Judaism is not suggesting that a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a full adult in every sense of the word; rather it is the time that maturity begins to set in and the child is ready to step beyond childhood.
Childhood is a time to learn from others – watching, imitating, seeing what others are doing and copying it for themselves – under the guidance of parents and teachers.
A child thinks more in the short term, very conscious of immediate needs and wants. Thus, they arenвЂ™t yet expected to rise above their instinctive desires, unless thereвЂ™s some immediate gratification or punishment attached.В A child is focused on playfulness and less on serious and weighty concepts. ThatвЂ™s adult work!
Bar/Bat Mitzvah is the entree into adulthood.
At Bar/Bat Mitzvah, with an increased maturity, and a personality that is developing and crystallizing, we become better equipped to choose correct responses to lifeвЂ™s dilemmas, and we slowly begin to seek meaning, fulfillment, connection and inspiration.
Life is no longer one-dimensional; it has a depth and a complexity of which children are blissfully unaware. A Bar/Bat Mitzvah can say, “Although I really want it, I know it’s wrong. So I’ll rise above my temptations.” Or, “Although I am upset at you, I still love you.” Or, “Although I am not in the mood, I will do it because it’s the right ring to do.”
This a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, though still short of adulthood, has entered a ‘post-childhood’ phase, ready to accept responsibility for his/her actions, and ready to ‘step-up to the plate’ as a reliable functionary in family and society.
A Bar/Bat Mitzvah says, “I have grown out of childhood. I am now ready to fulfill the covenant with GвЂ‘d by being responsible for performing Mitzvot, the obligations of Jewish life.
So, what are we celebrating with this вЂcoming of ageвЂ™?
Myth:В A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is celebrating a newly-minted adult.
Fact:В В A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is celebrating this new status of someone who can now be вЂњofficiallyвЂќ counted in the Jewish Community, ready to take a place of real responsibility!
What a reason to celebrate!