Monday, March 14, 2016

From A Boy To A Young Man

Judaism's rite of passage from childhood to adulthood happens for boys at the age of 13 (bar mitzvah) and for girls at the age of 12 (bat mitzvah). What we have come to recognize as the ritual - sometimes simple, but often opulent - is not necessary for the rite to take place. The obligations of adulthood  are automatic.

Young men are permitted and expected to wear tefillin daily. The first time the young man puts them on is usually two months before his bar mitzvah date. That ritual is documented here, here, and here. There is an intricate yiddish text that very observant Jews require the young man learn and say from memory, called the ma'amar, which is a chassidic discourse on the deep mystical meaning of tefillin. It's recited during the celebration dinner which can occur before or after the actual bar mitzvah service usually held on shabbat, and on the occasion of the young man being called to the torah for an aliyah a day or two before the service.

Eli Moshe reciting the ma'amar and being guided by his father Sholom:

Receiving the priestly kohanim blessing from his maternal grandfather:

Leading the late afternoon mincha prayer service with his paternal grandfather:

 Congregants joining the family in the celebration:

Preparing to read the torah at Chabad World Headquarters in Brooklyn, NY:

 Eli Moshe being called to the torah for his first aliyah:

The proud father and uncle: