Bar Mitzvah/Bat Mitzvah

Our children’s Bar or Bat Misvah: The renewing of the L-rd’s army

This celebration is not biblical in the sense that there is not a command that has precisely been given regarding this, but it is biblical in its mindset and has, above all, a prophetic meaning in our world today.

First of all it is a reflection of the Jewish mindset:

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9

The term « you will teach »   shanan in Hebrew means: 

LSG- to sharpen, sharpened, high pitch, to teach, to feel pierced through, sharp

    1) to sharpen as to cut sharply

    1a) to sharpen

    1b) to trim, to excite, to teach (in a sharp way) 

    1c) to be pierced through

We so understand that this special celebration centered on young boys and girls is an application of this command to teach our children to put it into practice. 

The age is very important: 12 years for girls and 13 years for the boys. It is an age when many physiological changes take place and sexual identity is being developed.

The youngster is seeking for his identity, and he will either find it within the security and confines of his family (preferably) or he will look elsewhere for it, outside, unprotected and away from it, in the world with all its enticements. 

Also from this biblical command comes the tradition for boys to wear the tephilin on their arm and forehead from the age of 13 years until the end of their days.

The tephilin contain these four passages of the Thora: Exodus 13:1-10; and 13:11-16, Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 13-21.

Exodus 13:1-10 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.”    And Moses said to the people: “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. On this day you are going out, in the month Abib.  And it shall be, when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month.  Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD.  Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters.  And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt.’  It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.  You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.

Exodus 13:11-16: “And it shall be, when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you, that you shall set apart to the LORD all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the LORD’s.  But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.  So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ that you shall say to him, ‘By strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. And it came to pass, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all males that open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’  It shall be as a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-9:  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, : when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:13-21:   You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you  (for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth. “You shall not tempt the LORD your God as you tempted Him in Massah.  You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you. And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the LORD swore to your fathers,  to cast out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has spoken. “When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the LORD our God has commanded you?’  then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand;

These signs are witnesses: in Hebrew 'owth (oth): witness, proof, remembrance.

The Bar Mitsvah: (for the boys)

  • From now on the boy has the right to stand up, come to the Thora and to read like an adult.
  • He has an important part to play: He becomes entrusted with the divine mission to continue to carry the name of the L-rd within the Jewish people and to the nations.
  • His heritage becomes concrete and living: he has become a future head of a family entrusted with the perpetuation of the faith and the obedience to G-d.
  • In this way his identity is confirmed through this task.
  • He has the task to read the weekly Paracha portion that his father taught him.

This celebration can be compared with a genealogical tree: the blessing, the life and the instinct of conservation of the divine mission is flowing from the source, that is to say, from the parents and ancestors, into the children. Each Jewish child brought up in this mindset knows that as a Jew he has a part to play as a Jew.

Thanks to this commandment, the Jewish people have already lived and survived for 4000 years.…

The blessing that the parents give to their children is crucial in the life of the child. The father is the one who affirms the sexual identity of his children. G-d has granted to fathers a divine right:

So the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the same day that Isaac was weaned.Genesis 21:8

The blessing of the father is completely biblical and flows from this divine right of the parent over the child. In fact, G-d expresses Himself over the future of our children through the father or the mother:

Avraham has blessed Yitzchaq

Yitzchaq has blessed Yaakov

Yaakov has blessed his twelve sons

David has blessed Shlomo…

The concept of blessing the descendants is very present within the biblical context; it is a perpetual concern of the men of the Bible: for example, Avraham impatiently awaited the promise of a son. It was also shameful for women not to have offspring as we can see in the life of Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, Tamar, Elisheva…

The Bat Mitzvah : (for the girls)

Now concerning the girls: in the Bible, the mother plays a very important role because it is through her that the Jewish identity is transmitted; it is often the mothers who have received the prophetic vision that the messianic offspring until Yeshua, should be carried out through a specific child and not just anyone:

  • Sarah and Yitzchaq (She caused the sending away of the slave that desired to steal the inheritance of Yeshua)
  • Rivka and Yaakov (contrariwise to her husband, she has discerned the perversity of Esav who despised the messianic inheritance and married Canaanite women)
  • Rachel and Yossef (who saved the people from the famine)
  • Tamar and the descendants of Yehuda, from who came Messiah
  • Ruth and her prophetic calling, which as a nation will make a covenant with the Jewish people to insure the descendance of Messiah; she is an image of the Gentiles who have come to join the House of Israel.

Here are other examples of the importance of the role of the mother in the education and the transmission of the Jewish identity:

  • Yokhebed and Moshe: she saved her son at the cost of her life to accomplish the divine purpose.
  • Channah who gave away her son Sh’muel.
  • Manoach’s wife, who when she became pregnant with Samson, would not drink any more wine to insure the Nazarene conditions were upheld for her son even before his birth.
  • Eunice and Timothy.

All of them have taught their children the fear of G-d. The Bat-Mitzvah gives us the opportunity as mothers, whether Jewish or not, to continue to transmit this identity in the Mashiach and to insure for all the blessings of motherhood through maternity, to our daughters: the tenderness and the deep feeling of well being that comes from the weaning:

By the God of your father who will help you,And by the Almighty who will bless you With blessings of heaven above, Blessings of the deep that lies beneath, Blessings of the breasts and of the womb Genesis 49:25

  • This Bat or Bar Mitzvah celebration is for us parents, the opportunity: 
  • To give our mouths to G-d to prophesy over our children. 
  • To symbolize their official entrance within the assembly of believers.
  • To give them this feeling of responsibility towards G-d who calls them to glorify His Name in the nations.
  • To confess and strengthen the relief of the army of G-d before the heavens.

The Bat, Bar-Mitzvah is a joy for the parents to see their children become responsible before G-d, and the satisfaction to have passed on to them the love of His Word.

For the grandparents it is a joy to see the family who continues in the faith and in obedience to G-d, the source of blessings.

During the course of history, G-d has repeatedly used children: King David, Sh’muel, the experience of the Huguenots when the children prophesied… We should not neglect them; they are precious instruments for the Lord and they deserve all the attention we can give to them. 

Within the body of believers, the devil has always managed to keep the children aside; it is often difficult to find teachers for Sunday Schools, and very often there is no teaching given on this command of Deuteronomy 6:4 and the children are set aside. Unfortunately, even within the family of believers in Yeshua, the biblical teaching of children is not a priority.

But the Bible is clear and we must teach them and highly esteem them: 

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit[a], in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Statistically, through observation, the second generation of believers do not follow in the faith like their parents: the children, as teenagers (« critical age » which by the way, the Bible does not address as such) no longer want to follow the L-rd, often seeking their identity elsewhere, outside of the family nest.

We must invite our teenagers to officially become a part of the Assembly of G-d, to help them to integrate softly within the adult world.

Hashem is the same yesterday, to-day and tomorrow. It is always His Will that our children become the relief for His army, to-day more than ever. He has a calling for our children and it is our duty to teach then so that they may feel important in the House of G-d and that they will be solidly anchored in their identity in Him. 

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